Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Poll Position: Is the economy gaining or just breaking even?

Today’s jobs report was not good. From December to February, net job creation surpassed 200,000 per month — and while estimates vary about how many new jobs are needed each month simply to keep pace with population growth, pretty much everyone agrees anything north of 200,000 is good news. But in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ initial estimate is a disappointing 120,000. That was the worst monthly showing since October, and the worst figure for March since 2009. It doesn’t represent the kind of growth that heralds a reinvigorated labor market.

What’s up with the economy?

  • It’s just treading water (39 Votes)
  • It’s gaining ground (28 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

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The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent, but that had a lot to do with people giving up on finding jobs and exiting the labor force. At this stage of an economic recovery, people ought to be rejoining the labor force as they see an uptick in hiring.

Now, the dip in March could …

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2012 Tuesday: About that notion the economy, GOP ‘war on women’ have Obama cruising to re-election

A GOP “war on women” concerning contraception. A bloody Republican primary that keeps dragging on. Improving jobs numbers. A sharp drop in President Obama’s approval ratings.

Wait, what?

The narrative of February and early March was that Obama baited Republicans into focusing on social wedge issues, even as the economy is foremost on voters’ minds, and then seized on good economic news to begin gaining ground on that top concern as well. The president had returned to the magic 50 percent mark in approval ratings in both the New York Times/CBS national poll and the Washington Post/ABC survey. It seemed that it didn’t matter who the Republicans nominated: His name would simply go down in history as another guy who lost to Obama.

Now, both polls show a significant reversal. The WaPo/ABC poll, released yesterday shows Obama falling from 50 percent approval/46 percent disapproval to the exact opposite: 46/50. Today, the NYT/CBS poll shows an even larger fall: from 50/43 to 41/47. …

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Could a French Socialist throw an economic wrench into Obama’s re-election?

Of all the external factors that might affect the presidential race, I doubt many people saw President Obama being hurt by an honest-to-goodness European Socialist. But the intention of Francois Hollande, the French Socialist challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy, to renegotiate the painstakingly struck European bailout could send shivers through economies over there and here.

From an interview Hollande gave German news site Der Spiegel:

I want to renegotiate it. Not all of it — some things seem reasonable to me. I’ve already committed myself to a balanced budget and better economic governance. But what bothers me most is that there is nothing about growth in the fiscal pact. And then there is some uncertainty with regard to the automatic sanctions — that is, what is expected of countries to reduce their deficits.

Hollande is right in a very narrow sense, that growth is key to balancing budgets in Europe (and here as well). But his proposal to attain that growth by issuing …

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The speech Mitt Romney needs to give — soon

JFK gave a speech about separation of church and state to allay fears the Vatican would control a Catholic president. Barack Obama gave a speech about race to address radical comments by his longtime pastor and adviser, Jeremiah Wright.

Perhaps the time has come for Mitt Romney, dogged by a louder-than-a-whisper about his core beliefs, to give a speech — not about Mormon, but about mammon.

Oh, there will be innuendo and more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to which Romney belongs, should he continue on his current trajectory toward the GOP presidential nomination. It will be an outrageously ironic tactic, coming from supporters of a president smeared as a Kenyan Muslim who should have been disqualified from the presidency. But it will come.

The central Democratic attack against Romney, however, will concern his wealth and experience at the private equity firm Bain Capital. Obama and the left have been laying this groundwork for a class-warfare assault on …

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Gingrich sees gas prices as his ticket to the White House

Herman Cain shot to the top of the GOP presidential race for a time on the strength of one numeral said thrice: 9-9-9. Now, the man Cain endorsed after leaving the race is trying to grab the lead for a third time with his own triple-digit number: $2.50.

Newt Gingrich is not talking taxes with his number, but rather the price of a gallon of gasoline. If his swing through Georgia this week is any evidence, the former House speaker is staking his candidacy not only on a victory in our delegate-rich state come Tuesday. He’s also betting on the idea that he can win here and beyond by taking an increasingly brutal fact of everyday American life and wrapping around it elements of many national and geopolitical challenges we face.

Thus, Gingrich told crowds in Dalton and Rome on Tuesday that $2.50-a-gallon gas is:

  • the result of a goal “to get the United States to a point that we produce enough oil that no American president ever bows to a Saudi king,” as Barack Obama infamously …

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Gas prices add to case for delaying T-SPLOST vote

Take the news today about gasoline prices locally (from AJC.com) …

The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular stood at $3.55 Monday, up 3 cents from a week ago and 45 cents from this time a year ago, according to AAA.

The price has risen 15 cents a gallon in the past month.

Georgia’s average price is just slightly below the national average of $3.56, which is the highest price ever for this time of year, the Associated Press reported. Since January, a gallon of gas has risen 25 cents per gallon.

… add this prediction nationally from a Friday story in the San Jose Mercury News (note the part I’ve bolded) …

Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta.

… and tell me how this news improves the T-SPLOST’s chances of being approved by voters in a referendum scheduled for July.

On one hand, I suppose a project list with half the spending dedicated to mass …

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Three years of “stimulus”

It has been three years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed. Feel stimulated yet?

Three years later, the net change in jobs (since March 2009, through January 2012) is -428,000.

Last year, months after the recovery was to have taken hold, the economy created 1.8 million jobs. That might sound impressive if you don’t follow the labor market closely, but at that rate — monthly job creation of 152,000 — we won’t return to the previous employment peak of 146.6 million jobs until October 2014. That would be almost halfway through a second Obama term, and almost exactly seven years since that peak.

The unemployment rate, still well above the levels the Obama administration predicted when the stimulus was passed, has fallen in recent months in large part because between
3 million and 5 million Americans have grown discouraged and stopped looking for work. (The range owes to how retiring baby boomers are accounted for.) After rising for nearly six decades, the …

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Milton Friedman on greed, capitalism — and the alternatives (video)

Something to tide y’all over until the results from Florida start rolling in.

(H/t: Jonah Goldberg, who calls it a useful reminder “that we’ve seen all this nonsense [about greed] before. Note the year: 1979, the tail-end of another president’s single term.”)

The full interview is in parts one, two, three, four and five and covers topics ranging from auto bailouts to environmental regulations to the minimum wage. (See? Jonah was right: It’s nothing new.)

It’s a lot to watch. But if you do, you just might learn something.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Clearing the way for Georgia’s businesses to flourish

Joblessness in Georgia last month fell to its lowest level since May 2009, but don’t expect a drop-off in job-creation proposals under the Gold Dome. There’s little to celebrate about an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent.

Tax reform and attracting venture capital to the state are among the efforts to boost employment that have gotten the most ink. If Speaker David Ralston gets his way, another item is about to join them atop the agenda.

“One of the things I’ve heard a lot over the past year,” Ralston told me in an interview Thursday, “is small-business owners who tell me they’re struggling under some of the rules and regulations state government puts on them, and that that is a hindrance to attracting jobs and keeping jobs. …

“I know some of them [regulations] are reasonable and are in the public interest, but some of them are pretty far afield.”

As an example of a reason to keep some regulations, he cited the fish kill last May in the Ogeechee River. A …

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Business to government: You are the problem

You’ve no doubt hear people, probably free-market conservatives and libertarians, talk about getting government out of the way so that business can flourish. Here’s a graphical representation of what we mean:

Source: Harvard Business School

Source: Harvard Business School

The scores were given based on surveys completed in October by almost 10,000 alumni of Harvard Business School. While HBS is not exactly renowned as a bastion of right-wingers, note that every single thing considered a weakness — anything in the two left-hand boxes — is solely or largely the purview of government. And every one of those factors is considered by these respondents to be getting worse, not better.

Note also that the factors on which the U.S. is least competitive are, in order (as described more fully on page 13 of the above-linked PDF):

1. Complexity of the national tax code

2. Effectiveness of the political system: ability of the government to pass effective laws

3. K-12 education system: universal access to high-quality …

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