The Lousy Jobs Number & Obama's Original Sin by Noam Scheiber
Which, in the end, brings us back to the original sin of the Obama administration. As I report in my recent book on Obama and the economy, the administration’s top economists knew the amount of stimulus they were proposing was much too small to solve the unemployment problem within a few years. One reason they felt okay about this relates to a concept called “escape velocity,” which held that you didn’t need the full amount of stimulus your math suggested (something approaching $2 trillion). If you just provided an initial boost, the economy could take care of the rest on its own: Consumers would start spending, which would raise GDP, lower unemployment, and lead to further spending. And the whole process would accelerate as people gained confidence, leading to a self-sustaining recovery.
It was, in effect, a bet that you could get away with spending much less than necessary by manipulating mass psychology. And for a while it worked: The economy grew pretty rapidly in late 2009 and early 2010. But, as several administration economists have subsequently conceded to me, we never quite hit escape velocity, which is why we’ve been in stall speed more or less ever since.
A central-bank failure of epic proportions by Ryan Avent
The Austerity Agenda by Krugman
The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.
So what happens if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt? The answer is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better.
This isn’t a new insight. The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called “debt deflation” with the pithy slogan “the more the debtors pay, the more they owe.” Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher’s insight.
Really depressing stuff. Then I saw the movie Bernie and it cheered me up. If you like Jack Black, Richard Linklater and the South then you'll love this movie.And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.