4:28 PM, Jun 17, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The subject of debt – how much and how tolerable – slipped into the shadows for a time. But yesterday, it reappeared. As Rebecca Shabad of the Hill reports:
U.S. debt will hit 101 percent of the nation’s economic output by 2039, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in a report released Tuesday.
… highlights how quickly budget deficits are accumulating. In 25 years, debt as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to balloon to levels only previously seen during World War II.
“The harmful effects that such large debt would have on the economy would worsen the budget outlook. At some point, investors would begin to doubt the government’s willingness or ability to meet its debt obligations, requiring it to pay much higher interest costs in order to continue borrowing money.”
We knew this – in the broad outlines, anyway, if not the precise numbers – but it is probably good to be reminded. Especially at a time when presidential candidates are promising things that would make the problem worse. There is, for instance, Bernie Sanders who wants to spend more on all manner of things. To include Social Security. The CBO, as Andrew Briggs of Forbes writes, also took a look at that program and returned with a finding that:
... Social Security’s long-term funding gap has more than quadrupled since 2008.
As is well known, a fix is possible. But it would take:
… an immediate and permanent 4.4 percentage point increase in the Social Security payroll tax, from 12.4 to 16.8 percent of wages, would be enough to keep the program’s trust fund solvent over the next 75 years.
... we could immediately cut benefits across the board by about 23 percent.
And good luck with that.
12:01 AM, Jun 6, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
On Friday we learned that the U.S. economy surprised on the upside by adding 280,000 new jobs in May, and that 32,000 more jobs had been created in March and April than originally reported. The fact that economic growth is still sluggish, while more and more workers are finding jobs, suggests that productivity -- output per man-hour -- is slowing.
'Things are fine...really they are.'12:00 PM, May 31, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Let’s say that next Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes out with a really handsome non-farm-payrolls report. Something close to 300,000 new jobs and a decline in the unemployment rate by a couple of tenths of a point. How do you suppose the president and his staff would deal with the news?
12:01 AM, May 2, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Last week’s surprising report that the value of all the goods and services produced in America did not grow in the first quarter, which will be subject to two revisions as firmer data come in, tells us one of two things.
3:50 PM, Apr 15, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky is celebrating this April 15 by declaring that America is “the most undertaxed advanced country in the world.” He claims that this chart offers proof of his assertion.
12:34 PM, Jan 30, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Listen to the president, his staff, and his supporters and you might be ready to believe that the economy is on a rocket ride to prosperity. More jobs, lower gas prices, increased consumer spending. So now, at last, we can afford to do away with sequestration and other implements of austerity. Time to grow and spend and prosper.
What the new GDP figures actually reveal. Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By LAWRENCE B. LINDSEY
Two weeks ago the Commerce Department released its final estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter. That marked five years since the recession ended—a period of massive experimentation with expansionary fiscal and monetary policy. While those policies were doubtless well intended, all they did was what standard economic theory says they would do—move future economic output to the present. They did not by any means increase long-term economic growth.
9:04 AM, Apr 30, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The numbers on 1st quarter GDP are, in a word, dismal. An economy that had been limping along came nearly to a standstill. As Jeanna Smialek of Bloomberg reports:
8:52 AM, Jun 26, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
One day after the president declared war on coal and committed his administration to making electricity – and, thus, just about everything else – more expensive, the 1st quarter GDP growth figures were revised down from a tepid 2.4 percent to an anemic 1.8 percent.
Economic growth is the imperative, not budget cuts. May 27, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 35 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The burgeoning deficit has stopped burgeoning, at least for now. So Republican plans to attack the profligate president and to use the debt ceiling as a weapon to get more spending cuts can be shelved. Conservative deficit hawks should turn to a more immediate and important task—devising policies that will help the economy to grow at a rate that ends middle-class malaise and gets the millions who are out of work back into the workforce.
9:33 AM, Apr 26, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal were predicting that we would learn, this morning, that Gross Domestic Product had grown by 3.2 percent in the last quarter. Sorry about that; the economy said as the number came in at 2.5 percent.
10:24 AM, Jan 30, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
We had been hearing talk of an economy that was picking up steam and a recovery that was, at last, on track. Now, it appears that recovery has stalled. Or worse. Bloomberg reports that in last year's fourth quarter:
11:33 AM, Oct 29, 2012 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
There are two U.S. economies. Well, not really. But there is the economy reported in the New York Times as part of its pre-election coverage, and far different one reported in the authoritative financial press.