August 26, 2011 archive

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Sick of being right

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Cassandra Herr Doktor Professor

It’s kind of annoying when people claim that I said the stimulus would work; how much noisier could I have been in warning both that it was grossly inadequate, and that by claiming that a far-too-small stimulus was just right, Obama would discredit the whole idea?

Of course, the WSJ also said that the stimulus wouldn’t work. The difference was in how it was supposed to fail.

The WSJ view was that federal borrowing would crowd out private spending by driving interest rates sky-high, that the bond vigilantes would destroy the economy. Note that when the linked editorial was published, the 10-year rate was at 3.7%, with the Journal in effect predicting that it would go much higher.

My view was that government borrowing in a liquidity trap does not drive up rates, and indeed that rates would stay low as long as the economy stayed depressed.

How it turned out.

That’s a pretty clear test; among other things, you would have lost a lot of money if you believed the WSJ view.

Inflation is another issue; the WSJ kept telling readers that a big inflationary surge was coming. Commodity prices have muddied this issue to some extent, but even so actual developments on the inflation front have been a lot closer to what Keynesians were predicting than to the right-wing line.

Of course, I would much rather have actually had adequate policy than be vindicated by the form of our economic failure.

Democratic Bloodbath

If you pay attention to economics it’s hard not to predict a Democratic defeat in 2012 of epic proportions starting at the top with Barack Obama.

Fact:  The US economy has just entered or is about to enter the second leg of at least a Double Dip Recession.

Second-quarter growth cut on inventories, trade

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

WASHINGTON | Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:43pm EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. economic growth in the second quarter was slower than previously thought and consumer confidence sank in August, further reducing prospects of a strong pick-up in output in the second half of the year.

Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Friday, as business inventories and exports were less robust. That was a downward revision of the government’s prior 1.3 percent growth estimate.

Separately, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 55.7 this month from 63.7 in July.

The economy advanced just 0.4 percent in the first quarter. Economists had expected second-quarter GDP to be marked down to a 1.0 percent rate.

The second GDP estimate for the quarter confirmed growth almost stalled in the first six months of this year.

Chance of Recession Is as High as 80%: Study

By: John Melloy, Executive Producer, Fast Money & Strategy Session, CNBC

Published: Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 | 6:55 PM ET

The Philly Fed puts a recession probability at 85.7 percent, while the consumer survey puts contraction chances at 80 percent, according to Bank of America’s probability model, which uses a so-called Bayesian technique that “tests if the economy is in a recession based on the interaction of variables that are associated with turns in the business cycle.”

According to their data, the Philly Fed has accurately forecast four of the last seven recessions. The older Michigan survey has accurately signaled three of the last eight recessions.

“It’s a 100 percent chance,” said Peter Schiff, CEO & Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. “In fact the recession might have already started.”

World Facing 50% Danger of Another Recession, Nobel Laureate Spence Says

By Robyn Meredith, Bloomberg News

Aug 25, 2011 7:00 PM ET

“I’m quite worried,” Spence said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong yesterday. “A combined downward dip in Europe and America, which is a good chunk of the industrialized economies, I’m quite sure will take down growth in China particularly, and that will then immediately spread to the rest of the emerging economies.” He put the likelihood of such a scenario “at about 50 percent.”

China “cannot make up for the kind of loss of demand that would go with a downturn in the advanced economies,” Spence said. Because Chinese inflation is running at an official rate of 6.5 percent, a figure many economists say is understated, Beijing would be “pretty close to nuts” to fuel further credit growth, he said.

QE3 Is Coming by Year End: Roubini

By: Margo D. Beller, CNBC

Published: Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 | 5:49 PM ET

Roubini, also known as “Dr. Doom,” puts the chance of a double-dip recession at 50 percent.

While bad economic data on housing, jobs and home sales suggests a double-dip in the U.S., Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain “are already back in recession or never got out of the first one.” Data also suggest France and Germany are in “borderline contraction” while the U.K. “has not had any economic growth for three quarters.”

With Economic Pessimism Rising, Americans Move Towards Keynesianism

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Friday August 26, 2011 9:30 am

(T)here is now a slim plurality of the country ready to embrace real spending on jobs programs. A five point increase over two months is a rather impressive amount of movement on what could be considered a fairly fundamental question of government ideology.

More government spending to create jobs is exactly what Keynesian economics prescribes. The fact that, without realizing it, more Americans are open to the idea of Keynesian spending to help the economy is remarkable given how the top leadership in both political parties have trumpeted the importance of deficit reduction over all else for so long. And Republicans have been openly disparaging Keynes, just as they did in the Great Depression.

This change in attitudes is a reflection of just how seriously worried regular people are right now about what they perceive as the worsening state of the economy. Since the last time Pew asked this (my link- ek) question the number of people who think the economy is getting worse has increase by over 10 points according to Gallup’s tracking poll.

AP-GfK poll: Views on economy, Obama role sour

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

22 hrs ago

The survey found that 86 percent of adults see the economy as “poor,” up from 80 percent in June. About half – 49 percent – said it worsened just in the past month. Only 27 percent responded that way in the June survey.

As the public’s outlook on the economy dips, so has approval for the president’s economic stewardship.

More than 6 in 10 – 63 percent – disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy. Nearly half, or 48 percent, “strongly” disapproved. Approval of his economic performance now stands at just 36 percent, his worst approval rating on the issue in AP-GfK polling.

Among Democrats, 58 percent approve of the president’s handling of the economy, down from 65 percent in June. Among Republicans, approval dipped to 9 percent from 15 percent.

Just 51 percent consider Obama a strong leader, down from 60 percent in June and 65 percent following the capture and death of Osama bin Laden in May. In June, 85 percent of Democrats in the poll called him a strong leader. Now, the number is down to 76 percent.

Some 75 percent in the poll said the country is heading in the wrong direction, up from 63 percent in June. Among Democrats, 61 percent chose “wrong direction” – up from 46 percent in June.

In a new high, 52 percent of all adults said they disapprove of his overall performance – 52 percent, up from 47 percent in June. Among Democrats, approval fell 8 points, to 74 percent from 82 percent in June. Among Republicans, it fell to 11 percent from 22 percent.

Unemployment increased to 9.2 percent in July, up from 9.1 percent in June. And most economists don’t expect it to decline much below 8.5 percent by the November 2012 presidential election. No president has won re-election with a jobless rate that high since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

Stock Tip: Be Worried. Workers are Consumers.

Robert Reich

Friday, August 19, 2011

We’re slouching toward a double dip, and the stock market is imploding, because consumers – whose spending is 70 percent of the economy – have reached their limit.

It’s not just the jobless who can’t spend. It’s mainly people with jobs. Median wages continue to fall. Weekly wages in July for Americans with jobs were 1.3 percent lower than eight months before.

Many on Wall Street are scratching their heads, trying to understand why the stock market is plummeting. After all, they tell themselves, corporate earnings are still near record highs.

But it’s becoming clear those earnings can’t be sustained. Corporate earnings are the highest they’ve been relative to worker wages and benefits since just before the Great Depression. And the richest 1 percent of Americans are getting a higher percent of total income since just before the Great Depression.

Get it? It was only a matter of time before the boom on Wall Street turned into a bust. Economic booms cannot continue without American workers participating in them.

What will happen to the Dow Jones Industrial Average when corporate earnings revert to their historic average relative to American wages? I’ve seen various estimates. They’re not pretty.

Bernanke “optimistic.” Philly Fed says another recession 85% sure; Roubini says it’s coming

by John Aravosis, Americablog

on 8/26/2011 10:40:00 AM

Anyone who votes to cut any spending this year or next, or signs such legislation, shouldn’t be re-elected.  Period.  This is criminal that Congress and the President just cut spending, and now plan on doing it again in the super committee.  It’s equally criminal that the President refused to adequately defend the stimulus (and refused to push for a big enough stimulus the first time), then embraced deficit reduction over a year ago, when the economy was still teetering on the brink.

Every single one of them, the Democrats in Congress, the Republicans in Congress, and the President own this double dip recession if it comes, as they do the already crappy economy we have.  And I don’t know how you vote for anyone who is supporting legislation that will literally depress the economy further.

We need another massive stimulus now. Or a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and their homes, and it will be the fault of every single politician in Washington, from the White House to the Congress.  The President’s constant pandering to conservative Dems and Republicans is no longer academic.  It’s  having real world consequences.

A lot of Politicians are going to lose their jobs too, including Barack Obama.

Electoral victory my ass.

The Week In The Dream Antilles, Hurricane Edition

An Offering to Chaac And Kukulkan



Chaac is the ancient Maya god of rain and lightning. He is usually depicted with a serpentine axe (lightning) in his hand. His body is scaled and reptilian. He is worshipped at sacred wells and cenotes. He is in charge of life-giving rain needed for agriculture. At the dawn of time Chaac split apart a sacred stone with his axe, from which sprung the first ear of maize. When he is not in the clouds, he is near falling waters.


Kukulkan at Chichen Itza

Kukulkan is the ancient Mayan feathered serpent and represents both the Earth’s wish to ascend to the sky and sky’s descending to Earth. Through Kukulkan chaos becomes order. Kukulkan represents the merging of opposites and the end to dualism.

As I post this, the map of Hurricane Irene seems to have announced the storm’s arrival on the East Coast of the US, between North Carolina and Massachusetts some time this weekend.  This is what the computer models are saying:


And so right now an offering (I recommend burning copal and/or sage and/or palo santo or a candle or a fire), a petition, a propitiatory prayer seems especially in order, an offering to Chaac, who controls the rain, and Kukulkan, who creates order from chaos, for the safety of all people in the Eastern United States:

May Chaac and Kukulkan exercise restraint. May all be safe. May all find shelter. May destruction be averted. May peace prevail. May the rains be moderate. May the wind be temperate. May divine tranquility be preserved. Let it be so!

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment, or click the “encouragement jar” so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Your Bloguero thanks you for visiting.

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles


Porky’s Double Trouble

On This Day In History August 26

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 26 is the 238th day of the year (239th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 127 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1920, The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

America’s woman suffrage movement was founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s rights. After approving measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.” For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman suffrage movement in America.

n January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land.

The package containing the certified record of the action of the Tennessee legislature was sent by train to the nation’s capital, arriving in the early hours of August 26. At 8 a.m. that morning, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed it without ceremony at his residence in Washington. None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present when the proclamation was signed, and no photographers or film cameras recorded the event. That afternoon, Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Suffrage Association, was received at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson, the first lady.

The 26th of August was proclaimed “Women’s Equality Day” in 1971 when a joint resolution, that was introduced by Rep. Bella Abzug, was passed. Each year the President issues a proclamation recognizing women’s equality.

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26th, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

Libya: Not Quite Mission Accomplished Or Legal

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While the world will not miss Mommar Gadaffi, there are some very serious questions about how this was achieved, particularly for Americans who were opposed to Pres. George W. Bush military intervention policies while excusing Obama’s violation of the law.

Glenn Greenwald makes two salient points in his critique of an article by Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast that argues “the war in Libya highlights how “one can see how he (Obama) might become not just a good but a great foreign-policy president” and how some intellectual progressives conceive of the Obama presidency”.

First, this is not “mission accomplished” by any means:

No matter how moved you are by joyous Libyans (just as one was presumably moved by joyous Iraqis); no matter how heinous you believe Gadaffi was (he certainly wasn’t worse than Saddam); no matter how vast you believe the differences are between Libya and Iraq (and there are significant differences), this specific Iraq lesson cannot be evaded.  When foreign powers use military force to help remove a tyrannical regime that has ruled for decades, all sorts of chaos, violence, instability, and suffering — along with a slew of unpredictable outcomes — are inevitable.

Greenwald’s second point is the illegality:

The Atlantic‘s Conor Freidersdorf argues that no matter how great the outcome proves to be, Libya must be considered a “Phyrrhic victory for America” because:

   Obama has violated the Constitution; he willfully broke a law that he believes to be constitutional; he undermined his own professed beliefs about executive power, and made it more likely that future presidents will undermine convictions that he purports to hold; in all this, he undermined the rule of law and the balance of powers as set forth by the framers.


The New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson warns of the serious precedential dangers not only from Obama’s law-breaking but from our collective willingness to overlook it.  Honestly: can anyone claim that if George Bush had waged an optional war without Congressional approval — and continued to wage it even after a Democratic Congress voted against its authorization — that progressives would be lightly and parenthetically calling it “ridiculous” on their way to praising the war?  No, they’d be screaming — rightfully so — about lawlessness and the shredding of the Constitution; that this identical contempt for the law by Obama has become nothing more than a cursory progressive caveat (at most) on the way to hailing the glorious war is astounding.

(emphasis mine)

The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe discussing Libya setting Gov. Howard Dean and Newsweek‘s Tina Brown straight. He says what’s happening in the country is essentially “a NATO enforced regime change” and that President Obama is “implementing the Bush domino agenda in the Middle East”. Scahill also expresses concern that the US is making future enemies across the Middle East.

This article was a tough call for me to write because like so many I would rejoice to see Gadaffi in shackles at The Hague and that this revolution was initiated by the Libyan people. That said and as Glenn also points out in his article:

Does anyone know how many civilians have died in the NATO bombing of Tripoli and the ensuing battle?  Does anyone know who will dominate the subsequent regime? Does it matter?


But my, how soon some have forgotten the Bush regime’s policies.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.

–Johann von Goethe

Art Glass 40

Late Night Karaoke