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December 31, 2008
Good Economic News Despite Bush Being President
The latest jobs data show something good. So watch the MSM do back-flips to make sure Bush gets none of the credit and all of the blame.
Reuters announced, "Jobless claims drop by much more than expected." But for every bit of good news under President Bush, there must come a "but." Reuters made sure to say, in its opening sentence, "but seasonal factors were likely behind this unexpectedly large decline."
Either Wall Street analysts are too stupid to realize when Christmas occurs, or Reuters believes that they are. And not just Reuters. All the reporting I've heard on this "unexpected" drop in jobless claims came with the "seasonal" caveat.
The MSM is just flummoxed. Again, according to Reuters, " ‘The numbers seemed unbelievable but the states certified they were correct,' the Labor Department official said." It is simply unbelievable that anything good could be happening while Bush is President.
Here is the story line, according to the MSM, as a reasonable man could infer:
The current economy is the worst ever and has been virtually the whole time Bush has been President. It will not improve until government, under President Obama and the Democrats, takes bold and decisive action.
All data must be bent to that story line. The bad news, for the MSM, is that the data do not quite bend to that narrative.
The "recession" we are currently in (which started last December, according to the NBER) was based largely on employment figures, not GDP. The number of people employed peaked last December 2007 and decreased every month since. The cumulative loss so far? There were 1.38% fewer jobs in November 2008 than in December 2007.
Real GDP growth in the US actually went up the first two quarters of the year, despite going down in Europe at that same time. US GDP finally relented in the third quarter, shrinking at an annual rate of 0.5%.
So that is what we know about our "recession" to date: real GDP growth of positive 0.8% for the first 9 months of 2008, and a decline of employment by 1.38% in the first 11 months. Those are not "Depression" numbers by a long shot. They are not even normal recession numbers: the employment decline was more than 1.38% in 9 of the 10 previous recessions since World War II. (Yes, I know, we're not out of this yet. But the current numbers are not alarming in any historical sense.)
And now we are hearing good news on jobless claims.
I have always thought our economic "crisis" has been exaggerated. In my view, the real crisis came with our government's actions to handle it. I believe that if we had not come of the rails by offering trillion dollar bailouts to every Tom, Dick and Harry, we would have had no recession at all, or a very mild downturn at worst.
That might still be true. And when this mild downturn starts turning up, look for President Obama to be declared the savior. And if it doesn't turn up, well, not even a superhero could be expected to undo the awful mess he inherited from Bush. Heads Democrats win, tails Republicans lose.