Tag Archives: Wealth inequality

All that glitters is not gold: storm clouds on the economic horizon

“There is perhaps no single person or entity that has done more to sell the economy under President Trump than Fox News.” When Trump faces a negative story, Fox News pivots to the economy:

Fox routinely finds ways to spin bad, unrelated news about the economy into good, related news about the economy, often blaming the media for its focus on Trump’s scandals and ethics probes.

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Indeed, Fox has been so anxious to praise Trump for the economy, it has even admitted to deliberately giving the president positive economic coverage.

The economy is not as good as the three dolts on the divan (Fox and Friends) who provide Trump his presidential daily briefing (PDB) of Fox propaganda each morning would have you believe.

Earlier this month, the New York Times editorialized Clouds Darken Trump’s Sunny Economic View:

[T]he American economy has a lot more power than it can handle right now, and it’s making a lot of noise. So is President Trump, who takes singular credit for a robust second-quarter rise in the gross domestic product of 4.1 percent, something that hasn’t happened under any other president since … Barack Obama. While Mr. Trump praised himself effusively — he’s good at that, isn’t he? — the stock market seemed unimpressed. Friday’sannouncement that 157,000 new jobs were added in July, a modest gain or perhaps a seasonal glitch, elicited an even more subdued reaction. That’s because if you look down the line, there are few clear reasons to be so enthusiastic.

“Over all, we see this report as supportive of our views that the economy is currently firing on all cylinders,” wrote Bricklin Dwyer, a senior economist with BNP Paribas, after the new G.D.P. numbers were announced. But there was a caveat: Mr. Dwyer said that “growth is likely peaking. Indeed, in our forecasts, [the second quarter] marks a high-water mark for growth.”

For one thing, the initial jolt of the Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax cuts, mostly for corporations and the wealthy, is wearing off. Corporations have bought back $437 billion of their own shares, which leaves them that much less to invest in new production, or wages. In fact, spending on business equipment slowed.

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July jobs report is below expectations

Steve Benen has the July jobs report. American job growth falls short of expectations in July:

Ahead of this morning’s new jobs report, most projections said the U.S. economy added roughly 190,000 jobs in July. Apparently, we didn’t do quite that well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 157,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate inched lower, going from to 4% to 3.9%. It’s the second lowest monthly jobs total of the year.

That said, the revisions for the two previous months – May and June – looked very good, with a combined gain of 59,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

JulyJobs

In terms of the larger context, this morning’s data points to 1.5 million jobs created so far in 2018, which is evidence of a healthy job market, and which is an improvement on the totals from the first seven months of 2016 and 2017. That said, this year’s tally is still short of the totals from the first seven months of 2014 and 2015.

Here is another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

JulyPrivate

The Washington Post points out that wage growth remains stagnant (so much for the GOP tax cut scam):

The U.S. economy has added jobs for 94 consecutive months, a record streak that shows no signs of waning despite President Trump’s escalating trade war. Many business leaders have warned the standoffs with China, the European Union and other major trading partners could cause layoffs if tariffs stay in place for an extended period of time.

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All that glitters is not gold in the new Gilded Age

On Friday the government said that the economy grew at a 4.1 percent annual rate last quarter.

Naturally our egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief, who always speaks in exaggerated superlatives, tried to claim that this was the biggest, bestest, greatest economic achievement by any president ever in the history of the world!

Not even close, dumbass. Fact check: Mr. Trump cited a long list of indicators of how well the economy has performed on his watch, some lacking context or foundation. Barack Obama had three quarters besting Trump’s best quarter.

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Economists caution that the latest acceleration, while good news for American businesses and households in the short term, is unsustainable in the long term and could raise the risk that the recovery will flame out in the years ahead.

The quarter’s figures were pumped up by a range of one-time factors — including a surge in exports tied, at least in part, to Mr. Trump’s trade policies, as foreign buyers rushed to stock up on American goods before tariffs took effect — that are unlikely to recur. Most forecasters expect growth to cool in the second half of the year — even without factoring in the possibility of a trade war, which corporate executives in recent weeks have cited as a source of uncertainty that could force them to pare hiring and investment plans.

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The Roberts Court: a new Gilded Age and a return to the long-discredited Lochner Era

Jedediah Purdy, professor of law at Duke, recently wrote at the New York Times, The Roberts Court Protects the Powerful for a New Gilded Age:

Faith in courts runs deep in the American liberal imagination. Remembering Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade and the recent marriage-equality decisions, we keep hoping that wise and fair-minded judges will protect the vulnerable and lead the country toward justice.

Recent decisions upholding President Trump’s travel ban and Texas’ racially skewed voting districts are body blows to this optimism. They are unhappy reminders that for much of American history, the Supreme Court has been a deeply conservative institution, preserving racial hierarchy and the prerogatives of employers.

When it comes to economic inequality, today’s Supreme Court is not only failing to help but is also aggressively making itself part of the problem in a time when inequality and insecurity are damaging the country and endangering our democracy.

Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has consistently issued bold, partisan decisions that have been terrible for working people. Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was one of them.

Just hours after that decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. With this “swing” vote gone, Chief Justice Roberts is now likely to take even more control over the direction of issues related to economic inequality — a direction that is earning him a legacy as chief justice of bosses, not workers.

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‘Economically forgotten’ have much in common with America’s poor

Axios.com has an Exclusive: 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics:

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Data: United Way; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

At a time of rock-bottom joblessness, high corporate profits and a booming stock market, more than 40% of U.S. households cannot pay the basics of a middle-class lifestyle — rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone, according to a new study.

Quick take: The study, conducted by United Way, found a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses. Based on 2016 data, there were 34.7 million households in that group — double the 16.1 million that are in actual poverty, project director Stephanie Hoopes tells Axios.

Why it matters: For two years, U.S. politics has been dominated by the anger and resentment of a self-identified “forgotten” class, some left behind economically and others threatened by changes to their way of life.

  • The United Way study, to be released publicly Thursday, suggests that the economically forgotten are a far bigger group than many studies assume — and, according to Hoopes, appear to be growing larger despite the improving economy.
  • The study dubs that middle group between poverty and the middle class “ALICE” families, for Asset-limited, Income-constrained, Employed. (The map above, by Axios’ Chris Canipe, depicts that state-by-state population in dark brown.)
  • These are households with adults who are working but earning too little — 66% of Americans earn less than $20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year if they are working full time.

When you add them together with the people living in poverty, you get 51 million households. “It’s a magnitude of financial hardship that we haven’t been able to capture until now,” Hoopes said.

By the numbers: Using 2016 data collected from the states, the study found that North Dakota has the smallest population between poverty and middle class, at 32% of its households. The largest is 49%, in California, Hawaii and New Mexico. “49% is shocking. 32% is also shocking,” Hoopes said.

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Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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