Republicans and Jobs


Brief notes worth remembering:

Paul Krugman, shortly after the midterm election:

Eric CantorSo what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed? Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues were clearly caught by surprise, but the budget expert Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that “with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,” they would be “opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.” In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed.

Hence the axis of depression. No doubt some of Mr. Bernanke’s critics are motivated by sincere intellectual conviction, but the core reason for the attack on the Fed is self-interest, pure and simple. China and Germany want America to stay uncompetitive; Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.

GOP stalwart Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and Poppy Bush administrations, as well as former aide to Reps. Jack Kemp and Ron Paul:

Deficits and thh Economy During the Great DepressionIt is starting to look like 1937 all over again. As the table below indicates, the economy made a significant recovery after hitting bottom in 1932, when real gross domestic product fell 13 percent. The contraction moderated considerably in 1933, and in 1934 growth was robust, with real G.D.P. rising 11 percent. Growth was also strong in 1935 and 1936, which brought the unemployment rate down more than half from its peak and relieved the devastating deflation that was at the root of the economy’s problems.

By 1937, President Roosevelt and the Federal Reserve thought self-sustaining growth had been restored and began worrying about unwinding the fiscal and monetary stimulus, which they thought would become a drag on growth and a source of inflation. There was also a strong desire to return to normality, in both monetary and fiscal policy.

On the fiscal side, Roosevelt was under pressure from his Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, to balance the budget. Like many conservatives today, Mr. Morgenthau worried obsessively about business confidence and was convinced that balancing the budget would be expansionary. In the words of the historian John Morton Blum, Mr. Morgenthau said he believed recovery “depended on the willingness of business to increase investments, and this in turn was a function of business confidence,” adding, “In his view only a balanced budget could sustain that confidence.”

Roosevelt ordered a very big cut in federal spending in early 1937, and it fell to $7.6 billion in 1937 and $6.8 billion in 1938 from $8.2 billion in 1936, a 17 percent reduction over two years.

At the same time, taxes increased sharply because of the introduction of the payroll tax. Federal revenues rose to $5.4 billion in 1937 and $6.7 billion in 1938, from $3.9 billion in 1936, an increase of 72 percent. As a consequence, the federal deficit fell from 5.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1936 to a mere 0.5 percent in 1938. The deficit was just $89 million in 1938.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve was alarmed by inflation rates that were high by historical standards, as well as by the large amount of reserves in the banking system, which could potentially fuel a further rise in inflation. Using powers recently granted by the Banking Act of 1935, the Fed doubled reserve requirements from August 1936 to May 1937. Higher reserve requirements restricted the amount of money banks could lend and caused them to tighten credit.

This combination of fiscal and monetary tightening – which conservatives advocate today – brought on a sharp recession beginning in May 1937 and ending in June 1938, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Real G.D.P. fell 3.4 percent in 1938, and the unemployment rate rose to 12.5 percent from 9.2 percent in 1937.

And then there is this, from John S. Irons of the Economic Policy Institute:

The agreement to raise the debt ceiling just announced by policymakers in Washington not only erodes funding for public investments and safety-net spending, but also misses an important opportunity to address the lack of jobs. The spending cuts in 2012 and the failure to continue two key supports to the economy (the payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed) could lead to roughly 1.8 million fewer jobs in 2012, relative to current budget policy.

Economic Policy Institute Debt Ceiling Jobs Outlook

Continue reading

Advertisements

I admit, this is surprising


All things considered, the numbers are surprising to me. Then again, I’m not hip, anymore.

The top-earning tours of 2010, from Pollstar via BBC:

  1. Bon Jovi, $201.1m
  2. AC/DC, $177m
  3. U2, $160.9m
  4. Lady Gaga, $133.6m
  5. Metallica, $110.1m
  6. Michael Buble, $104.2m
  7. Walking With Dinosaurs, $104.1m
  8. Paul McCartney, $93m
  9. The Eagles, $92.3m
  10. Roger Waters, $89.5m

Continue reading

Nazi grinches


Oh, those evil Nazis. I mean, to the one, it’s hardly surprising. To the other, The Independent‘s tale of a very Reich Christmas is still fascinating.

Holiday postcard, 1914

The Nazis were not the first Germans to screw with Christmas, as this 1914 holiday postcard shows.

Sixty-five years after Germans celebrated the last Christmas of the Third Reich, a new exhibition at Cologne’s National Socialism Documentation Centre offers, for the first time, an insight into the elaborate propaganda methods devised by the Nazis in their campaign to take the Christ out of Christmas.

The exhibition contains selected items from a vast private collection of Nazi Christmas memorabilia, including swastika and Nazi SS tree decorations, Aryan department store catalogues featuring presents for boys – toy Nazi tanks, fighter planes and machine guns – and music for carols that have been stripped of their Christian content.

“The baby Jesus was Jewish. This was both a problem and a provocation for the Nazis,” explained Judith Breuer, who organised the exhibition using the items she and her mother collected at flea markets over 30 years. “The most popular Christian festival of the year did not fit in with their racist ideology. They had to react and they did so by trying to make it less Christian.”

The regime’s exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologists wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival’s Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalise on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was “the holy night in which the sun was reborn”.

The swastika, they claimed, was an ancient symbol of the sun that represented the struggle of the Great German Reich. Father Christmas had nothing to do with the bearded figure in a red robe who looked like a bishop: the Nazis reinvented him as the Germanic Norse god Odin, who, according to legend, rode about the earth on a white horse to announce the coming of the winter solstice. Propaganda posters in the exhibition show the “Christmas or Solstice man” as a hippie-like individual on a white charger sporting a thick grey beard, slouch hat and a sack full of gifts.

But the star that traditionally crowns the Christmas tree presented an almost insurmountable problem. “Either it was the six-pointed star of David, which was Jewish, or it was the five-pointed star of the Bolshevik Soviet Union,” said Mrs Breuer. “And both of them were anathema to the regime.” So the Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic “sun wheels” and the Nordic “sig runes” used by the regime’s fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

Continue reading

Metro-what? Tell me you’re … you’re not? Damn.


Those who know me are aware that I stand somewhat at odds with traditional masculine stereotypes in American culture. Thankfully, this story comes to us from overseas. Reuters says:

Men have become so openly affectionate with each other using mobile technology they’ve taken to signing off text messages to male friends with a kiss (x), giving rise to a new generation dubbed “Metrotextuals.”

New research from mobile phone firm T-Mobile reveals nearly a quarter of men (22 percent) regularly include a kiss on texts to their male mates, T-Mobile said in an emailed statement.

“Metrotextuality” is most widespread among 18-24 year old males with three quarters (75 percent) regularly sealing texts with a kiss and 48 percent admitting that the practice has become commonplace amongst their group of friends.

Nearly a quarter of this age group (23 percent) even appreciate an “x’ in a text exchange from people that aren’t close friends.

But it’s not just younger men that have become Metrotextuals — one in 10 men over 55 often completes a text to another male with a kiss, according to the poll.

The research also revealed there’s a certain etiquette within metrotextuality. A lower case “x” is the preferred sign-off for most (52 percent) compared to 17 percent for a bolder upper case X), with one in three sharing the love in a big way with multiple lower case kisses (xxx).

Look, it’s real simple: No, no, and no.

Continue reading

Controversial to the end … and beyond


We have long smiled over the fact that the late Michael Jackson could not cross a street without causing a riot. But apparently neither can he die without … well, it wasn’t quite a riot. Still, though:

The bus was moving through the city of North Lauderdale on Thursday when passenger James Kiernan received a text message about Jackson’s death on his cell phone, and he read it aloud on the bus, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department said.

The unidentified bus driver opined that “Michael Jackson should have been in jail long ago,” prompting Kiernan, 60, to retort that “the world just lost a great musical talent,” the police report said.

It said the last remark enraged another passenger, Henry Wideman, who started a swearing match with Kiernan, then pulled out a knife and chased Kiernan down the aisle with it.

Can’t a man die in peace?