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Initial Claims: Life in the Short Run

11:02 AM, Sep 20, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 in the week ended Sept. 15, the Labor Department said Thursday ...  Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to drop to 375,000. I The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 2,000 to 377,750, the highest level since late June. 

The initial claims number isn't the best indicator of employment and general job market health. It is imprecise and fleeting, like economists' concept of the "short run," which is how President Obama told David Letterman we need to think about deficits and debt. Not a problem in the "short run." And this is almost tautological. We don't have to worry about it until ... well, until we do. That would be in the "long run." And in the long run, "we are all dead," as Keynes helpfully explained. Or, in the case of President Obama, safely out of office.

One cannot help but admire how adroitly the Obama campaign has made present conditions seem normal and endurable. The government bleeds red ink, the debt accumulates massively, unemployment routinely and "unexpectedly" increases and ... the president goes on Letterman and tells him not to sweat it.  

It's working, even as millions of Americans are not.

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