Quick: What’s a “derivative”? The difference between a “custodial account” and a “trust”? “Listed” versus “unlisted” markets? “Debentures”? How about “price earning ratios”? “Assets” per se, versus “net asset value”? “Capitalism” versus “capitalization”? Stumped? Well, don’t feel badly. Most of your friends and neighbors are stumped, too, unless they majored in economics and are pursuing finance as a career.
Vice President Joe Biden predicted job growth of 250,000 to 500,000 jobs a month in the next two months, according to CNBC on Monday. Biden was speaking at a political fundraiser in Pittsburgh, where he said, “We caught a lot of bad breaks on the way down. We’re going to catch a few good breaks because of good planning on the way up.... All in all, we’re going to be creating somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs next month.” Even though some have cautioned Biden about his excessive and premature enthusiasm, Biden continued: “I’m here to tell you some time in the next couple of months we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month.”
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. executive director Fabrice Tourre probably didn't help his company's public relations efforts (assuming it has some) by referring to an index that facilitates derivatives trading as "a little like Frankenstein turning against his own inventor." But Tourre made that observation in January 29, 2007 e-mail that predated the crisis in the subprime mortgage market.
The idea that President Barack Obama is a socialist is popular among many conservatives; all of us have seen automobiles sporting the bumper sticker reading, Don’t Blame Me; I Didn’t Vote For the Socialist — obviously referring to Obama. Not so fast, says, of all people, Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Item: An Associated Press story dated February 17 reported: “Vice President Joe Biden asserted in an interview Wednesday that taxpayers have ‘gotten their money’s worth’ out of the $787 billion stimulus program that Congress passed during the depths of the recession....
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last Friday that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February, the usual choristers took that as good news. Christina Romer, the Chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers said, “Today’s report on the employment situation is consistent with the pattern of stabilization and gradual labor market healing we have been seeing in recent months.”
On February 24, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), at a hearing held by the House Financial Services Committee, asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke whether he was aware of allegations that the Federal Reserve had been complicit in the Watergate cover-up and in the illegal funneling of billions of dollars in loans to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein:
Just when the headline news about the economy was beginning to look good and the talking heads were beginning to sound good, along came a barrage of bad news that was so bad that it couldn’t be covered up. Gallup began with the news that in January nearly 20 percent of the U.S. workforce “lacked adequate employment”, which was worse than the numbers reported by the Labor Department. According to Reuters, these “findings appear to paint a darker employment picture than official U.S. data,” with about 30 million Americans “underemployed.” And Gallup misses the mark by at least 2 percent, according to John Williams of ShadowStats.com.
“Core consumer prices” fell by a monthly 0.1 percent in January, reported the Wall Street Journal on February 19, noting that the last time core consumer prices fell was in December 1982. However, noted the Journal, citing the U.S. Department of Labor’s statement, the seasonally adjusted consumer price index rose 0.2 percent during the same month, the increase caused mainly by higher energy prices.
"The art of economics," economist Henry Hazlitt wrote nearly seven decades ago, "consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."