Archive for Recession


The Austerity Two-Step

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Paul Krugman was on his game in this video from England (via Crooks and Liars). It’s a familiar dance on both sides of the Atlantic, in which conservatives (here, “austerians”) — losing ground with one argument (economic) — shift quickly to another (moral) one they hope might get more traction. This is not the politics of principle, but of expediency and ideology. When called out as disingenuous — for using economics as a false front for an ideological goal — they throw down the victim card (“and you accuse us of lying?”). Krugman handles that gambit deftly. Watch and learn:

David Atkins comments on Krugman’s Friday column at Hullabaloo:

… The political history of the last thirty years is of the revenge of the right wing after finding itself discredited for a generation after the Great Depression and the fall of fascism. We’re living in a grand period of conservative revanchism, one that I fear will not end without entire economies and and civilizations being destroyed in the process.

That is, after all, what happens when rabid ideologues of any stripe come to power. The problem now is recognizing that, for all the surface niceties of our democratic institutions, we’re in the grip of anti-government cultists just as detached from reality and morality as any other ideological authoritarian regime.

Maybe not so much anti-government as anti-communitarian.

Categories : Economy, Recession
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Just in from Paris:

PARIS — Francois Hollande was elected France’s first Socialist president in nearly two decades on Sunday, dealing a humiliating defeat to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and shaking up European politics.


The Socialist has vowed to renegotiate the hard-fought fiscal austerity pact signed by EU leaders in March and to make it focus more on growth, but is facing resistance from [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel. The French vote coincides with an election in Greece, where voters were also expected to punish the incumbent parties for landing the country in its bleak economic state. Anger over sputtering economies has brought down leaders from Ireland to Portugal since the debt crisis washed over the European continent.

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Categories : Economy, News, Recession, Stimulus
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Homeless Persons’ Memorial

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A memorial service to commemorate the lives of those who died while homeless in Asheville and Buncombe County will be held on December 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. The memorial service is co-sponsored by the Asheville Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, and the Haywood Street Congregation.

The public is invited to attend. Donations of coats, hats, scarves, gloves and blankets will be accepted at Haywood Street Congregation beginning at 9 a.m. A free community meal will be held at 11:30 a.m.

The memorial service precedes the longest night of the year. An average of 20 people die while homeless every year in this community. The memorial service will include the reading of the names and stories of each person who died while homeless this year and the opportunity to speak in tribute to them.

Categories : Housing, Local, Poverty, Recession
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A clear channel

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Two views here on the repatriation holiday. (Sorry about the ad in the first clip.) I had a brief conversation on this Saturday night as Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) was speaking at the Grove Park Inn. Hagan is a the primary sponsor of another repatriation tax holiday. (Because it worked so well when the first one passed under Dubya.) Like she said, we’re all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Hagan, two Democrats and six Republican senators think they can coax the public into having another run at the jobs football that got yanked away after Bush teed it up in 2004. And within weeks of getting their money, Pfizer, HP and others thanked us by laying off thousands of workers to boost their stock prices. As I wrote in back in August,
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From the Wall Street Journal, a sign of the times:

For generations, Procter & Gamble Co.’s growth strategy was focused on developing household staples for the vast American middle class.

Now, P&G executives say many of its former middle-market shoppers are trading down to lower-priced goods—widening the pools of have and have-not consumers at the expense of the middle.

That’s forced P&G, which estimates it has at least one product in 98% of American households, to fundamentally change the way it develops and sells its goods…

Categories : Economy, Recession
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Rabbit Punch

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Wow! That’s terrific bunny …

Wanted: Patriotic CEOs to stop corporate moochers

They’re like the guy who shows up at your Labor Day picnic empty-handed. He drinks all your beer, eats four helpings of barbecue and leaves a huge mess for everyone else to clean up. Then he asks you for 20 bucks in gas money to get home.

A troubling number of U.S. corporations behave as moocher guests at our national cafeteria. They help themselves to all the taxpayer-funded goods and services we create and pay for together and leave patriotic small businesses and individual taxpayers with the bill.

The “Texas Miracle” vs. Massachusetts, the “Socialist Hellhole”
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Media Whistling Past The Graveyard

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Just because the media is tiptoeing around mentioning this doesn’t mean I have to. From S&P’s explanation of the U.S. debt downgrade:

Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.

And this:

When comparing the U.S. to sovereigns with ‘AAA’ long-term ratings that we view as relevant peers–Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K.– we also observe, based on our base case scenarios for each, that the trajectory of the U.S.’s net public debt is diverging from the others. Including the U.S., we estimate that these five sovereigns will have net general government debt to GDP ratios this year ranging from 34% (Canada) to 80% (the U.K.), with the U.S. debt burden at 74%. By 2015, we project that their net public debt to GDP ratios will range between 0% (lowest, Canada) and 83% (highest, France), with the U.S. debt burden at 79%. However, in contrast with the U.S., we project that the net public debt burdens of these other sovereigns will begin to decline, either before or by 2015.

Given S&P’s complicity in the 2008 meltdown, lots of folks online are downplaying S&P’s action and questioning the firm’s credibility. No one seems to have noticed that S&P expects those ‘AAA’ “socialist” countries with their “big government” health care programs to perform better than the U.S. in the near term.

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NCGOP Leader Cheers Job Losses

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The NCGOP is seeing the fruits of their labors – increased unemployment as educators and other public employees received their pink slips.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.9 percent in June as community colleges, universities and other state government employers cut 7,600 workers, the state Employment Security Commission said Friday.
The number of government jobs lost may continue increasing. North Carolina’s Legislature closed a $2.5 billion budget shortfall projected for the fiscal year that began this month primarily by cutting spending. The budget, written by Republicans fully in control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century, took effect after lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue…
I hope it does increase,” Hayes said of the prospect of further state government layoffs.

While the leader of the NC Republican Party cheers layoffs in the public sector, there is still no coherent jobs policy coming out of Raleigh. They are excelling at the anti-education, anti-environment stuff, and as if on cue, the private sector is also doing away with their professionals:

June’s other big job-loser was the sector that includes professional, scientific, technical and administrative workers at private companies. That sector lost 5,400 jobs, the bulk of them from administrative and support positions, the ESC said.


Credit Where Credit Is Due

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During the Iraq occupation in 2006, I observed that at the top of their game conservative spinmeisters are as skilled at misdirection as close-up magicians at the Magic Castle. One of their best sleight-of-hand tricks is “Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.” Steve Benen at Washington Monthly observed the same thing about the weak jobs numbers released last week and illustrates his point with simple graphics:

When the jobs reports were looking quite good in the early spring, Republican leaders were eager to take credit for the positive numbers they had nothing to do with. Needless to say, GOP officials are no longer claiming responsibility, and are in fact now eager to point fingers everywhere else. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Obama’s wrong. Heads they win; tails Dems lose.

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