Down the Drain-The Economy is in Big Trouble
By MIKE WHITNEY
Imagine the reaction at the White House when the Department of Labor released its weekly unemployment figures on Thursday. Jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 500,000 in the second week of August. There’s been no improvement in the jobs market in 9 months and now unemployment is edging upwards again. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The Obama administration had bet everything that the economy had turned the corner and would gradually get better. Many economists saw less than a 10 per cent chance that the economy would tip back into recession. After all, double dip recessions are “extremely rare”. Now more people are losing their jobs and Team Obama is caught in the headlights. There is no back-up plan, no Plan B. The Democrats will face the midterms with no stimulus to create new jobs and with an economy that is steadily deteriorating. It’s going to be a massacre and they know it.
Obama and his lieutenants have stopped talking about austerity measures. The plan to dismantle Social Security has been put on hold,( though the Commission headed by the appalling former Senator Alan Simpson grinds on with its mission of destruction.) No one wants to hear about belt tightening when the future is uncertain and they’re worried about losing their jobs. Obama will have to shift-gears again; switch from promoting the elitist “privatize everything” agenda to his “I feel your pain” routine. He might want to dig up some archived video of B. Clinton chewing his lip and blinking back the tears.
All of the economic data is being revised downwards. The economy is in big trouble and the politicians are just starting to catch on. Stocks fell sharply on Thursday (Dow down 144 points) on news that manufacturing (Philly Fed Index) shrank in August beyond analysts expectations. Nearly every category fell including shipments and new orders. The Dow Jones is off 10 per cent since April 23, more than a 1,000 point loss in the last 4 months. Also, Moody’s reported that commercial real estate prices slipped another 4 per cent in June. According to Calculated risk website, “Commercial real estate values are now down 41.3 per cent from the peak in late 2007.” It’s a bloodbath.
Bond yields on US Treasuries continue to tumble as investor pessimism grows and increasingly bleak news feeds the fears of another slump. The two-year note has been setting records nearly every day. The benchmark 10-year which peaked at 3.99 per cent in April has since descended into Bernanke’s inferno. It was last seen parachuting to terra firma at 2.61 per cent. If it continues to plunge at this rate, it will be below 2 per cent by year-end. Welcome to Japan.