Sunday, March 9, 2008

An Update On The AWOL Economy

In case there was any doubt after Thursday's bad news (see previous post) that the U.S. economy is sort of absent without leave, Friday's news, and more tidbits from Thursday, probably erased it all.

Here are more economic news nuggets for your dining and dancing pleasure:

-- The Labor Department estimated that the U.S. lost 63,000 jobs in February, far more than analysts had expected.

-- This from The New York Times: "On Thursday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that about 7.9 percent of all loans - a record high - were past due or in foreclosure. Until the third quarter of last year, the rate had not climbed above 7 percent since 1979."

-- More from The Times: "Home prices are falling in almost every part of the country, a phenomenon that Fed officials and many other experts until recently thought was all but impossible, and some analysts now predict that average home prices will ultimately fall 20 percent from their peak in 2006."

-- And still more from The Times: "The effect is reducing household wealth. According to data this week from the Fed, net household wealth declined by $900 billion in the fourth quarter of last year."

-- And yet still more from The Times: "Stocks dipped yet again Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 146.70 points to close at 11,893.69. The S&P 500 was off 10.97 points to close at 1293.37, while the NASAQ was down 8.01 points to 2212.49."

And then, this platitude from "President" Shithead:

"I know this is a difficult time for our economy, but we recognized the problem early (HAWHAWHAWHAWHAW...) and provided the economy with a booster shot. We will begin to see the impact over the coming months." (There is apparently going to be such impact, I don't know how they're going to afford enough Ex-Lax to handle it.)

Pardon my doubts -- I think the recession is very much unofficially here, and a deficit-stoking tax rebate that will seep through the economy in the summer isn't likely to head it off, in the least.

I speculate here, but I hope with all body and soul that we are finally emerging from a very long era of bad economic policy. The laissez-faire, "free market" model seems to keep rising from the dead, but I don't think that's evidence of its strength. It seems to have been discredited over and over.

I think what gives it a perversely enduring strength is its seeming justification for swinish behavior by the economic elite. Consider that these are the folks who give the greatest sums to political campaigns, of both parties.

If you are among the privileged, it's a way to elude guilt. After all, you're hiring gardeners, maids, drivers and cooks. You leave big tips at the country club. Rationalization: How can all this largess not "trickle down?" And then, those nasty government people just want more and more tax money?

I'm actually supposed to help pay for the roads and bridges that I only have my hired help drive over? I'm supposed to help pay for the public library? (Barnes and Noble has all the coffee-table books I want). Those liberals ought to just go out and get themselves honest jobs. Wait, what's this in the paper about outsourcing jobs to India? Oh, OK -- none of my help is affected.

And remember to have that personal secretary keep that subscription to National Review current. God rest Bill Buckley's soul.

Crossposted at Manifesto Joe.