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September 04, 2009

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Of course Obama's projections were much rosier than reality. All politicians sell us bullshit and call it champagne.

What I would like to know is just how much worse these figures would be without the stimulus. Like TARP, one of its main benefits was to ease the fear and panic that had gripped the markets.

Glad to hear you're still upset by all the money spent on the stimulus (spent in the USA and designed to help - albeit imperfectly - our economy, while still advocating pissing away vast sums on that economic, political and military black hole that is Afghanistan.

Just the kind of "fiscal clarity" I come to expect from conservatives.

Arghhh....I really wish there was an edit button.

oh, it's just a mental recession. it's all in your mind. buncha whiners.

The deviation between what Team Obama thought its policies would do to the unemployment rate and what those policies are actually doing is growing.

Wrong. The deviation obviously occurs before the stimulus was even supposed to start having any effect. You are misrepresenting the difference between the effect of the stimulus and the (underestimated) underlying movement in the economy.

Lately, you are genuinely disappointing me. Which may not matter to you, but I havent been enjoying your work. Misrepresentations such as this one seem to be the norm for you now, it's just front-page trolling really.

That chart is from projections based on a hypothetical stimulus package that staff made in January, not the actual bill that was passed.

http://otrans.3cdn.net/45593e8ecbd339d074_l3m6bt1te.pdf

It's comparing apples to oranges. Very intellectually dishonest.

The magnitude is different, but the shape's the same. Looks like the stimulus & related legislation shifted recovery forward in time, but the magnitude of the effect of the recession on employment was not appreciated when these projections were made.

As noted elsewhere, the August increase is somewhat misleading because it corresponds with an increased minimum wage that went into effect in July. A majority of jobs lost were held by teenagers.

@RS - If reality overshoots their "without stimulus" projections, I don't think that comment really holds.

Also, it's sort of funny that Obama's getting shit now for having taken an optimistic view of the recession's magnitude several months ago. Had he come out with "without stimulus" projections of 12-13% unemployment, he would've undoubtedly been pilloried for undo pessimism and charged with fear mongering to get his budget passed.

Wrong. The deviation obviously occurs before the stimulus was even supposed to start having any effect. You are misrepresenting the difference between the effect of the stimulus and the (underestimated) underlying movement in the economy.

What the heck are you talking about? President Obama's projection regarding the effects of the stimulus package on unemployment are clearly set forth on the graph. The stimulus was supposed to have an effect on the unemployment rate in the 2d Quarter of 2009 (chart, above). By the middle of the 3rd quarter -- i.e., August -- the stimulus was supposed to have reduced the unemployment rate by a significant amount.

Now, you're right that we'll never know exactly how far Obama missed the mark .... but we can say with confidence that he missed the mark. According to him, unemployment is supposed to be at about 8% following the implementation of the stimulus package. It's now at 9.7%.

If that disappoints you, too bad, but you're angry at the wrong guy.

That chart is from projections based on a hypothetical stimulus package that staff made in January, not the actual bill that was passed.

http://otrans.3cdn.net/45593e8ecbd339d074_l3m6bt1te.pdf

It's comparing apples to oranges. Very intellectually dishonest.

Apples to oranges? There's no credible way to make that case. At best, you might argue that you're comparing one red delicious to another red delicious, and noticing a small difference in shape and bruising.

Indeed, the reconciled bill reached Obama in February of 2009 -- about a month after Obama prepared this projection. It was essentially identical to the version that Obama proposed, except that it increased the credits for home purchase over Obama's version, had relatively more for healthcare and somewhat less for education, and cut some of the long-term infrastructure projects.

The magnitude is different, but the shape's the same.

I don't know how this is meaningful. You'd expect the unemployment rate to curve every case (at least at this point in the recession -- there may be an opportunity for surprise later). Giving credits for predicting a curve is, well, grading a easy curve. Everyone gets an A!

Also, it's sort of funny that Obama's getting shit now for having taken an optimistic view of the recession's magnitude several months ago.

Not just optimistic; inaccurate. Wrong. Mistaken. In error.

Also, please avoid using the traditional curse words in your comments (like sh_t, f_ck). It's a policy that's designed to foster civility.

Not just optimistic; inaccurate. Wrong. Mistaken. In error.

I know this is part of a longer series, so perhaps I've missed it, but could you point to someone who was accurate at the time this prediction was made?

This AGAIN, von?

So how well would your preferred plan of "tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, and fiber-optic cable buildout" have done?

No prob on vulgarity. Sorry.

My point on the curve is this: Obama's crew predicted that the stimulus would change the date that the economy goes from losing jobs to adding them from around Q4 2010 to about Q4 2009. In January, the CBO also predicted that unemployment would begin to fall in late 2010 (extrapolating from their yearly average numbers; can't find forecasts by quarter. The CBO's prediction (which didn't include any stimulus) was largely in line with Obama's prediction. So to the extent that Obama's team made an error in projecting the current-law unemployment rate, it was a common one.

By the middle of the 3rd quarter -- i.e., August -- the stimulus was supposed to have reduced the unemployment rate by a significant amount.

Allow me to add something to the end of that sentence- ... 'compared to where it would have been without the stimulus.'
Obviously, the stimulus has an effect on the actual economy, not the predicted economy. Unless you've got a graph of what the economy would have done, there is no way to directly compare unemployment rates to determine the effect of the stimulus.
Yet, you claim to do so, using an outdated prediction.

Now, you're right that we'll never know exactly how far Obama missed the mark .... but we can say with confidence that he missed the mark. According to him, unemployment is supposed to be at about 8% following the implementation of the stimulus package. It's now at 9.7%.

He said that the stimulus would reduce unemployment. He made a prediction about what they thought that might look like. That prediction was off of the mark. That has absolutely no bearing on a judgment of the effectiveness of the stimulus itself.

So, no, he didn't miss the mark *with the stimulus*. He missed the mark *with the prediction*.

If that disappoints you, too bad, but you're angry at the wrong guy.

Im angry at the guy who's mad that the stimulus is working pretty well, and is resorting to misrepresentations about outdated predictions to claim that the stimulus is not working. Is that the right guy?

The deviation between what Team Obama thought its policies would do to the unemployment rate and what those policies are actually doing is growing.

No. The deviation between what they thought the unemployment rate be with the stimulus and what it actually is is growing.

Is it not possible that all their forecasts were wrong, that the recession is actually more severe than expected?

You can't make a statement about what the stimulus is doing without providing a baseline as to what would be happening without the stimulus. If you take Obama's no-stimulus forecast as that baseline you are saying that it was accurate, despite the fact that the stimulus forecast was wrong.

I don't think that works.

If you are going to compare projections based on a proposed policy to the actual numbers then yes, it is important to note that the policy you are comparing those numbers against is not the policy that was actually implemented. Knowingly doing otherwise is called "lying". I will charitably assume that you simply did not know what you were doing.

Now, if the unemployment rate really is higher than expected, what does it tell us about the effectiveness of the stimulus so far? It tells us one of three things:

1) The stimulus is less effective than predicted.
2) The stimulus is more effective than predicted.
3) The stimulus is about effective as predicted.

For example, if more jobs begin to be created than lost, many people who are not currently looking for work because they see little chance of finding a job will begin looking for work again - something we see the beginning of in the most recent unemployment report. If there are enough of those people, unemployment as measured by U3 will continue to climb even as the economy is adding large numbers of jobs.

In such an event, you can be sure the extremist right wing will claim it as evidence that the stimulus is not working. That will also be called "lying".

The deviation obviously occurs before the stimulus was even supposed to start having any effect....

What the heck are you talking about?... By the middle of the 3rd quarter -- i.e., August -- the stimulus was supposed to have reduced the unemployment rate by a significant amount.

What I said is that the deviation occurs before the stimulus was supposed to have had any effect. I can't say it any more plainly than that. I pretty clearly didn't say that the stimulus wasn't supposed to have any effect now, or in Q3, or whatever else your defective monitor apparently reported me to have said.

Look at Q1 '09- eyeballing, unemployment is .6% higher than the predictions with or without the stimulus (they are identical at this point, thus "before the stimulus was even supposed to start having any effect"). By Q2, when the stimulus was predicted to start having an effect of a few tenths of a %, reality has diverged by between 1-2%.

Thus, the prediction is wrong. This says nothing about the effect of the stimulus.

von:

I'm still waiting for you to post the chart made by opponents of the stimulus (from before the stimulus passed) that better matches what has actually happened. You know, the proof that they weren't even more wrong than the Obama administration. Because as I recall, they were saying that the president was exaggerating how bad things were, not that he was underestimating them.

"Im angry at the guy who's mad that the stimulus is working pretty well..."

Well it's not working well enough to to keep unemployment from spiking higher than its been since 1983, when Reagan was president and O-Blah Blah was 'finding' himself at Columbia U... and it probably won't improve much for another year (optimistic) or two or three (realistic).

So what's this administration going to do during the next few years to put people back to work? Continue to speechify as more families go bankrupt and their unemployment benefits run out (1.5 million Americans projected to lose them by the end of this year)?

Right - I mean, this whole exercise seems futile unless you show what unemployment/growth/etc. would otherwise have been. I mean, the recession was really bad -- worse than almost everyone predicted.


I mean, this whole exercise seems futile unless you show what unemployment/growth/etc. would otherwise have been.

Doesn't this statement disagree completely with your entire point, here, publius?

How so? I'm saying that government has worked. He's saying it hasn't, and posting numbers to show it.

I'm saying those numbers could be interpreted in a different way -- if they are better than they would have otherwise been, then government worked. Also, there was no catastrophic collapse either (which is sort of a separate point -- I think govenrment clearly helped there too).

My gripe with the stimulus is that it needed to be much much larger.

Also, the Wall Street Journal article does explicitly say that things are better than they would have been.

if they are better than they would have otherwise been, then government worked

But that works the other way, too: if they're worse than they otherwise would have been, then government has done worse than nothing.

I'm not making that point, just wondering how you can logically accept one implication (government is making things better) and reject the other implication.

Fair question -- but note that the WSJ article quotes lots of different economists who provide some empirical evidence based on what's actually happened.

My understanding of von's graph is that he's comparing current results to "past" future estimates, which I think is a shaky foundation

O-Blah Blah

And that was the moment when I realized I will never have to take seriously anything you say.

But that works the other way, too: if they're worse than they otherwise would have been, then government has done worse than nothing.
I'm pretty sure no one ever made the argument that the stimulus would cause us to lose jobs relative to the current law baseline. There's plenty in the stimulus that adds to employment and nothing that takes away employment. In terms of the long-term, sure; in terms of whether there was a better way to create jobs, yes; but nobody except for Michael Steele is arguing that the stimulus actually decreased employment.

Question: is it possible that the stimulus could have a net *negative* impact on the economy in the short-run? Not simply neutral, but actually causing an *increase* in unemployment?

My understanding of von's graph is that he's comparing current results to "past" future estimates, which I think is a shaky foundation

I think all that says is prediction is notoriously dicey, particularly the future kind.

@Chris - In reality, no. In Republican fantasy land where businesses are so forward looking that they adjust employment based on irrational fears of future deficit and taxation, yes.

Some stimulus spending will presumably lower employment relative to current law in the long run, but that's because we're spending money now to increase efficiency and save money in the future. Upgrading equipment in various government agencies (volcano monitoring!) will decrease the number of hours dedicated to fixing old equipment. The healthcare IT stuff that http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aLzfDxfbwhzs>McCaughey likes to lie about could decrease employment in health administration.

the chart is garbage for the fact that the baseline of the chart is garbage.

The prediction of Unemployment WITHOUT the stimulus is also wrong, as shown by the February and January numbers. If the baseline changed, then any predictions made from that baseline are useless.

This isn't rocket science.

I will however point to people that actually study this shit:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/03/AR2009090303317.html

"IHS Global Insight, an economic consulting firm, estimates that the stimulus has increased the 2009 gross domestic product by about 1 percent over what it otherwise would have been, with the benefit almost entirely in the second half of the year.

The firm also forecasts that the package will, in total, result in about 2 million more jobs than otherwise would have existed at the end of 2010. Moody's Economy.com estimates that the initiative will increase employment by 2.5 million jobs. Both estimates are below the 3 million to 3.5 million jobs the Obama administration estimated the package would create or save because the firms assumed more modest ripple effects from the stimulus spending than administration economists did. "

I mean, this is the sort of nonsense that needs to be cut out of the conservative movement. Is Von trying to prove that the Obama admin made bad predictions about the state of the economy back in the beginning of december or that the stimulus bill doesn't work?

The latter is BS (as shown above), the former is a throwaway point considering the only pressure about rosy assumptions came from the left in the first place.

With unemployment headed over 10% and the stimulus bill having wasted about 50% of the spending on tax cuts not directly targeted at employment, you now want to talk about whether a bill that contained even more tax cuts and even less employment-directed spending would have been a better idea?

Yes, the house is burning down faster than we thought; no, that fact does not mean that instead of what we did do - putting half of the people on the bucket brigade and half doing interpretive dance to placate you - we should have put all of them to work on interpretive dance. PS: house still burning down! Interpretive dance advocates: not helping!

Question: is it possible that the stimulus could have a net *negative* impact on the economy in the short-run? Not simply neutral, but actually causing an *increase* in unemployment?

You are making the assumption I warned about earlier. An increase in unemployment - as measured by the unemployment rate U3 - is not necessarily negative.

As the economy begins to improve, people who had given up on looking for jobs may begin looking again. When people aren't looking for work, they aren't measured by U3. When they begin looking but have not yet found jobs, they are.

Without looking more deeply, you can't tell if a change in the unemployment rate is a negative or positive sign for the economy.

That's one reason among many that von's post is so silly.

A critical point that is being lost here is the distinction between recovery in growth and recovery in employment. Normally, they go together. But if there is a sharp change in labour productivity, growth can return while employment is stalled. And that's what's happened.

The underlying mechanism seems to be that firms are not actually perpetual profit-maximizers and bad times cause them to tighten up their operations and get rid of their less productive employees.

In the long run, this is good for America's overall wealth. If productivity is up, then there is a bigger output gap. When that is closed, America will be wealthier and have high employment.

The downside is that a large number of people will be going through an extended period of joblessness. Obviously, that's bad for them, but it also tends to degrade their skills.

None of this has much to do with the merits of Obama's stimulus compared with some alternative. We'd be worse off if Obama and Bernanke had done what nothing as the right-wing ideologes proposed. OTOH, the fiscal stimulus contained a lot of garbage.

According to person on NPR, it the "long time" unemployed that is one of the most concerning numbers. Times are just really bad -- I think the magnitude of problems gets overlooked. Or, at least, by me it does.

There's another problem with the baseline apart from the unreasonably optimistic economic projection--eyeballing the graph, and assuming the monthly datapoints are accurately aligned, it looks like the Obama team's projection predicted that the stimulus would start having an effect mid-January; I presume the chart was made assuming the stimulus would be signed by then. But the stimulus was signed mid-February. So obviously it couldn't begin to have an affect until then; it appears to have taken about 3 months after signing to have had an effect.

Is this correct? Or am I missing something? Would there have been a policy which would have acted quicker? IIRC even the tax cut portion took over a month to wend its way through Treasury.

Von, I haven't commented on any of your previous posts on this topic. However, now I want to see you substantiate your claims of tax cuts providing an economic recovery. Please provide evidence in the form of original numbers and graphs. Since in all your posts you elude to having the answer, please show me your financial calculations and unemployment calculations for a tax-cut based economic recovery. Thanks, I look forward to your response.

(This blog deserves a better post than one you would find on redstate. You are capable of it.)

I'm not going to be nice. Anyone using the above linked chart to claim that the stimulus is not working is either intellectually dishonest or an idiot.

I'm not saying this because I agree with President Obama, or supported the stimulus or out of any partisan feeling whatsoever. I'm saying this because I am a career Statistician and it hurts me to see statistics abused in this way.

IIRC, Obama got as much stimulus as he could get away with politically, so I'm not sure I understand von's criticism.

The deviation between what Team Obama thought its policies would do to the unemployment rate and what those policies are actually doing is growing.

That might well be the case, but you're not providing any evidence to show it.

What you're showing is what the unemployment rate is, not what 'those policies are actually doing'.

Or...


I think all that says is prediction is notoriously dicey, particularly the future kind.

Exactly. But that's not what von said it said.

For some reason, citing Eminem seems appropriate here:

All that gibberish you were spitting, you need to kill it.
Cause your style is like dying in my sleep, I don't feel it.

"Obviously, that's bad for them, but it also tends to degrade their skills."

That's a "but" statement? Seems like an "and" to me.

IIRC, Obama got as much stimulus as he could get away with politically, so I'm not sure I understand von's criticism.

Obama could have done more than a hundred things differently in the process and content of that stimulus package. I can't say which if any of those alternatives might have worked better than what he did, but I also can't say what I think of someone who claims there one and only one possible path.

A critical point that is being lost here is the distinction between recovery in growth and recovery in employment. Normally, they go together. But if there is a sharp change in labour productivity, growth can return while employment is stalled. And that's what's happened.

iirc, this is normal for the last couple of recoveries- unemployment is a lagging indicator, it doesn't increase until well after GDP has starting recovering.

The underlying mechanism seems to be that firms are not actually perpetual profit-maximizers and bad times cause them to tighten up their operations and get rid of their less productive employees.

Not necessarily- during good times, employment opportunities abound, so it's harder to push your employees for extra time and effort bc they might go elsewhere.
Since wages tend to be pretty inflexible, it's easier for employers to 'reduce' salaries by letting some go and working the rest harder. When the economy recovery, workers will get a 'raise' by being asked to work less for their money while new workers are hired.

Productivity is one of those weird measures- employers can increase productivity by eg investing in better equipment or training, or they can increase it by demanding more work. The first is ultimately good for everyone. The second is part of a short-term adjustment in money-per-work-unit.

unemployment is a lagging indicator, it doesn't increase until well after GDP has starting recovering.

Yes. The general reason is that employers do not start adding staff until they are confident the upturn is real. Until then they deal with increased business by having current employees work overtime, or putting part-timers on full-time, etc.

The only comment I can make about this post is that if a lawyer tried to present this argument in court, any competent opposing attorney would be able to make the lawyer be laughed out of court.

I am not qualified to judge whether unemployment is a lagging indicator and/or mismeasured, as Carleton, Yevgeny, and pithlord indicate, but it makes sense. However, that point is irrelevant to the exact issue raised by Von, which is that unemployment, as measured, is worse than predicted. Obama presumably knew unemployment is a lagging indicator, and he still predicted better results by now than he got.

It is also unhelpful to say that the results are worse than expected because the economy is worse than expected. Unemployment figures are one of the measures of economic success, and the stimulus was meant to help the economy as a whole, not just boost the unemployment figures.

The point many people seem to want to make is that when the stimulus bill was passed, the economy was actually worse than was then understood, so that the bill could not boost the economy to the heights then expected. Nobody here has clearly made that argument. If true, that argument would actually address Von's point. Is it true?

Crafty, that is exactly the point. The administration was using figures based upon Bush administration figures, as that was all they really had to work with. Within two months, they realized those figures were way off, and they have admitted such to be the case.

The other point von is making, whether he will admit iot or not, is that the stimulus has caused an even larger increase in unemployment. Yet he has not given any evidence to back up that point.

results by now than he got

You're making the same mistake von is making, which is to assume that the unemployment rate is a 'result' of the stimulus bill. The unemployment rate is not a result of the stimulus bill, or of any government action. That would be impossible in all but the most controlled economies, which we certainly don't have. Properly, the stimulus bill, affected the unemployment rate. In which direction and to what magnitude? Great question. Opinions differ. Von seems to assume the answer by observing a chart that provides no such information.

Sidereal says pretty much what was sloshing around in my head.

Nobody here has clearly made that argument. If true, that argument would actually address Von's point. Is it true?

The prediction and the actual data diverge by quite a bit before the stimulus was even supposed to start having an effect. I think that this makes the argument- if you disagree, perhaps you can explain how a prediction which differs from actual data is not in error?

The point about unemployment being a lagging indicator wasn't addressing von's post, just something that pithlord said.

I am tied up in a fantasy football draft at the moment (priorities, people!), but hope to provide further support for my position in the full post -- which is coming at the end of the long weekend. I hope.

Crafty,

Here is DeLong in one of his many posts on the stimulus.

Here is DeLong's first paragraph:

It truly is remarkable: the Republican-leaning economists who make a living by selling their analyses of the economy to manufacturing firms that need information about demand and to financial firms that need information about industry profits are overwhelmingly assessing that the Obama short-run deficit-spending program has been and is being and will be effective--they are seeing the same 0.5 within-quarter fiscal multiplier and the same 3% boost to the second-quarter growth rate that everybody else is seeing. It's only (a) the true ideologues and (b) those who have decided to make their living by pleasing Republican politicians who are saying that the stimulus is ineffective...

As someone once said, read the whole thing.

BTW, Sidereal, aside from your critical take on yours truly, it's good to see you again .... assuming, of course, you're the same Sidereal from the way back. (Damn you, pseudonyms! So pseudo!)

But, if the assumption is correct, fill me in on The Forvm on the open thread.

Interesting. DeLong is divvying economists along (as I interpret it) an axis that separates non-ideologue Republicans and Democrats from ideologue Republicans. I was thinking that they might separate out purely into two categories: those who belong to organizations that benefitted/have benefitted/will benefit from the stimulus and various bailouts, and those that work for less affected houses.

It still winds up being self-interest guiding the commentary. And of course DeLong would know far better than I how things shake out with the prominent economists.

Interesting. DeLong is divvying economists along (as I interpret it) an axis that separates non-ideologue Republicans and Democrats from ideologue Republicans

Not really.

Some of the ideologue Republicans at the WSJ editorial page are some of the same non-ideologue Republicans at the WSJ news desk.

The Republicans he mentions whose paid reports to industry say the stimulus is working might say something completely different in a different context.

People say different things when there is money at stake if they are wrong than they do when there isn't.

I think the Obama Stimulus prevented the economy from getting worse.

Which unto itself is a good thing: The bleeding had to be stopped.

I think the banking sector has found a way to be profitable again, and in a hurry.

I'm just not so sure about the real economy.

I no longer make my weekly Friday or Saturday trip to Bing's Bakery, where I'd spend $20. We no longer make Saturday, when both my wife and I work hard days, an automatic eat-out night. I can't remember the last movie I saw at a theater. My wife canceled her Y membership because she is faced with working so many hours because we are relying on her income more and more. I need better footwear, but don't even think about parting with $50 or so dollars -- because I do not have it.

None of this speaks of a recovery, or even the beginnings of one, at my home.

At work, my whole department -- and now the new-car side since Cash for Clunkers has brought them back to reality -- stresses the whole day from lack of sales.

We suffer from not enough customers and poor inventory (our buyer doesn't want to pay what he considers inflated prices at the auction). The banks are still very tight with lending -- to the point where we don't even bother sending paper to what used to be go-to lending institutions.

---

A husband of one of my wife's friends lost his job of two decades at the Chrysler plant and is doing handyman work to make ends meet. He was at our house earlier in the week instally a new door frame because the old one was damaged in a storm last month.

John told me Wednesday he needs a new van for his handyman work and I could see why -- his old one was on its last legs. When I got to work Thursday, I was excited because we had just gotten a 2003 Town and Country -- long the Cadillac of vans (and one of the few things Chrysler has done right) -- with low miles.

I thought I could help the guy. But he did not (or could not; I did not pry) want to finance $9,000 and said he could only afford a $5,000 van.

Problem is, everybody wants a $5,000 car or truck right now -- and, sadly, it would not be much of an improvement over what the ex-Chrysler employee already has.

---

In real time, I don't see the makings of a recovery.

I'm hurting, friends are hurting, my customers are hurting.

This is going to be another long winter.

Slarti:


Sidereal says pretty much what was sloshing around in my head.

This is because I have eaten what was sloshing around in your head, because I am Zombie Sidereal, leading to:

von:


BTW, Sidereal, aside from your critical take on yours truly, it's good to see you again .... assuming, of course, you're the same Sidereal from the way back.

I am indeed. Or at least the Zombie Incarnation thereof. And you can see that I only comment on threads about which I'm critical, so you can assume that every thread on which I haven't commented I've been in absolute agreement with.

I've mostly been in blogosphere read-only mode for a while (except for this guest post on the LOG about abortion which predictably produced infinite rage).

Also, on FFL, I just drafted MJD 2nd in a PPR league (All Day was still on the board. Forte went 1st). And now he's injured his leg. NICE. I'll leave further updates for the Open Thread.

I'm not going to be nice. Anyone using the above linked chart to claim that the stimulus is not working is either intellectually dishonest or an idiot.

I'm guessing the former. I think von is auditioning to become a frontpager at RedState.

No matter how much I disagree with von, I think Johnny Pez's last sentence is an insult that goes beyond the line (I retain judgement on 'intellectual dishonesty').

Personally I think von's data doesn't prove what I think vons says but it also does not say the opposite. About the only hard fact is that reality is worse than the publicly made predictions. The data as given does not provide (imo) any hard info on the effects of the stimulus (either the real one or the one originally proposed and then watered down).
Looks like a typical Rohrschach test to me:
Liberal*: It would have been worse without the stimulus
Conservative*: The stimulus MADE it worse than the most dire predictions.
Contrafactual scenario: The stimulus created paradise on Earth (or paradise came anyway)
Liberal: See what the stimulus did!
Conservative: 1.It is actually hell; 2.Imagine how much better it would have been with OUR plan; 3.Any improvement was DESPITE the stimulus.
Nothing new to see here.
My personal opinion (with no backing in professional learning): The stimulus was a highly mixed bag from the start (under Bush!) did not improve that much under Obama and the GOP was quite successful in diminishing those parts that I think would have worked best. I also think that ANY action within the power of the government was at best able to dampen the inevitable economic trainwreck caused by irresponsible politics/policies in the past (caused by ideology and corruption in the whole political system with both parties carrying significant guilt).

*both terms to be taken with a hundredweight of salt

As we approach the Wingularity, every conservative is eventually going to reach a crossroads: either reject the crazy as John Cole did, or embrace it as Moe Lane did.

I think von has made his choice.

I'd like to hear from people who are benefiting from the Obama Stimulus.

Tell me how the Obama Stimulus has improved you financial life.

I imagine they are out there.

I am not one.

And I have yet to talk to one.

On the other hand, I sit next to a guy who raided his 401k, and know others who have.

I know people who have lost their jobs.

I had a U.S. Marine who had just finished basic training on Tuesday. We had a $10,000 Hyundai Tiburon he wanted.

All of my banks turned him down: limited credit (three student loans, none of which were delinquent) and lack of income ($1,600 a month, which stunned me).

Two years ago, a bank, or two, would have given this kid a loan. (We're only talking about a $225 payment or so here, so he wasn't on, as we say, "too much car.")

Not now.

I can't even get a U.S. Marine financed.

I realize this is anecdotal, but I deal with stuff like this every damn day.

That's why I can't work up much of a lather saying how wonderful the Obama Stimulus plan has been.


Bedtimeforbonzo,

Most economists believe that if no action had been taken (as ocurred in the early part of the Great Depression), far more people would have lost their jobs. If that's right, those people benefited from the Stimulus (and TARP and quantitative easing), but will never know it.

Pithlord: I am not an economist and don't even play one on TV, so I'll have to take their word for it.

All I know is the economy in which I live and work is not markedly improved from a year ago.

If you muck around in the backed-up unAmerican cesspool at Redstate, occasionally you'll find Von (not for awhile, mind you), wearing a HazMat suit and ventilator sprinkling a little bit of the lime of reason on the sewage in the comments section ........ to little avail, the denizens lift their heads from the accumulated bile and shit and get their vomitas all over him ....... but, to make a long story short ........ I know who the enemy in this country is .. and I'm way more extreme than John Cole when it comes to realizing what might have to happen to solve the problem .......

,,... and it (the enemy and the problem) AIN'T Von.

O.K. ?

Also, a word about U.S. Administrations and government officials waxing rosy about their predictions regarding just about anything .......

...... read any press release or watch any interview on any business channel .... and witness every rep from every private sector sector business or Wall street shill lie through the rictus of a 100-watt smile, heck, on CNBC, it's sacrilege to interpret any economic stat as any anything but ice cream for all right around the corner ...... as they tell you what the future holds.

The future is bright, says Doctor Pangloss, as his syphilitic nose falls into his drink ......

......nobody likes a pessimist.

Thullen, what's with the elipses?

I second John Thullen re: Von.

And I'd add that calling posters dishonest or idiots isn't likely to help persuade the esteemed Hilzoy to return to front paging here.

And doesn't that goal trump everything short of avoiding death panels?

I'd like to hear from people who are benefiting from the Obama Stimulus.

Tell me how the Obama Stimulus has improved you financial life.

I imagine they are out there.

I am not one.

And I have yet to talk to one.

You'd have to ask some firefighters, police officers and teachers that either didn't get fired, or were first time hires, because the aid to states that kept them from gutting their budgets. You could also talk to some hard hats employed in working on some of the projects.

Of course, some of those people probably don't even know how the stim benefitted them, because they might realize that they would have been fired.

You're so right about the police officers, Eric.

In Wilmington, Delaware, where I grew up, the city has been struck with an alarming increase in murder rates.

Amazingly, it wasn't until last month -- when yet another murder that hit the front pages outraged the citizenry -- that Mayor Sills hired the extra police officers afforded by the stimulus money.

His concern was that he could only offer the extra police a contract of a couple years, and then would not be sure how to keep them on the force financially after that.

That said, in the middle of a spike in crime of any kind, it was pretty amazing that any mayor would turn his back on any assistance, however limited.

P.S. I still don't think the economy is where the White House wants us to believe it is. The 9.7 million unemployed does not include folks whose benefits have run out, or folks who have stopped looking. The increase in existing housing sales has been spiked by banks eager to unload foreclosed properties. Back-to-school business was said to be weak. And there's little doubt new car sales will nose dive without a Cash for Clunkers boost.

And that was the moment when I realized I will never have to take seriously anything you say.

seconded.

"I'd like to hear from people who are benefiting from the Obama Stimulus."

The stimulus resulted in a $100,000 NIH grant for the neuroscience lab I work in, which bought four video eye tracking systems, which will make life better for the monkeys who no longer require the older eye-tracking technique which involves an invasive surgical procedure.

Also, the eye-trackers will work with mice, which gives us the ability to branch into areas other than non-human primates. Which has led to the hiring of a postdoc to do mouse research, which will involve the purchases of a bunch of pimped-out computers and apparatus. I ordered a $400 desktop electronics rack for him the other day, and will be ordering a Mac Pro soon.

Alas, the eye trackers were bought from a Canadian company.


Thanks, Jon.

And that's good to hear.

I'm just miserable right now. There's enough stress at work, then my wife has to remind me when I get home about the latest bill that just came in the mail that I can't pay.

Those are the kind of reminders I do not need.

Perhaps this is too personal. But I remember back before the recession was considered a recession -- even though we non-economists felt we were in one -- russell commenting on how hard economics would produce hard times on marriages.

Well, my wife and I will wind up making it Nov. 5 together, our fifth anniversary together, but I can attest, somewhat shamefully, that this fifth year has been the toughest -- almost all of our troubles rooted in financial problems.

Publius linked the notion by Will Wilkinson the other day that men like the show, Mad Men, because it allows them to get in touch with their lost macho selves. I disputed that notion, but upon consideration, there is at least a little to Wilkinson's belief.

I mean, I miss the pre-recession days when I always had cash in my pocket and did not have to hit my wife up regularly for money, not when the asking comes with a bunch of questions. Fuck that. Today, for example, I ate Lance peanut butter crackers as my lunch during a 9-5 work day -- I had all of 70 cents in my pocket because I did not ask for a five spot before work to get a decent sandwich.

There's something wrong with that picture, I know, so spare me the marriage counseling.

At least I never see the "Man Men" go without lunch; of course, they usually drink theirs.

BTFB:

I'm in an odd place in life with things happening that I didn't think would happen at my age ....

so I wish you the best of luck.

I try to think about when Lance peanut-butter crackers seemed years ago to be full of possibilities and something better was up ahead, but the same crackers seem to taste like ashes now ....

BTFB -- sorry to hear. I wish I had something smarter or more profound to say. But i hope things work out for you.

Thanks, John.

As usual, I can't be as eloquent as you, but I've had a lot of Lance peanut crackers for lunch lately. They go pretty good with a cold Coke.

Frankly, I thought that whole macho thing was a burden left behind by my father's generation, who joined the work force, albeit as an iron worker, during the era that Mad Men depicts.

(As I get older, I miss my father, who died in 1996 at 56, more and more. Strange thing is, he and I were not close, but I respect him more now than I ever did when he was alive. Maybe that's why that Harry Chapin song always hits so close to home when it comes on the radio.)

I find in my working-class circles, that the man in a marriage is still viewed as the so-called breadwinner and, when you ain't bringing home the bread, the thing that takes a hit as much as your wallet is your self-esteem.

There are nights I don't want to come through the door if I haven't sold a car.

"I'm just miserable right now. There's enough stress at work, then my wife has to remind me when I get home about the latest bill that just came in the mail that I can't pay."

Best of luck. I've been okay this recession, but I took it in the pants hard in 2001, getting laid off and not finding work for years because of my weird skill mix and simply because after six months you might as well have "goat raper" on your resume. (Six months after being laid off 9/11 happened, and I was definitely toast). I spent a year looking in Chicago, then moved home to my parents in CT which was cheaper but an even worse job market.

So, so far, I've been getting by this time. In academia, I'm somewhat shielded by the buffeting winds of corporate results.

On the other hand, I recently found out that my boss, the lab primary investigator, was turned down for continued funding by Howard Hughes. Instead of funding him for another 5 years, they're going to fund us for two more years as we transition and wind down, but after that, the lab will be entirely grant-funded. (I think HHMI funds us at about $1 million a year or so, but we usually don't spend it all. The other labs in the department are, shall we say, significantly threadbare in comparison.)

Since reasonably-paid professional programmers are hard to get funded on a neuroscience grant, I'll almost certainly be looking for work again as I approach 40. (It might be possible to split my time and wages between two labs.)

Oh, as far as the stimulus goes, I *think* I recall hearing that some stimulus funds were going to pay to build a brand new facility for our department, and our monkeys and labs, on a floor in a new building across the street. They're still hashing out the design with the architects.

No problem, publius.

I wonder if Eric Martin -- I just read it on espn.com -- knows his Raiders cut Jeff Garcia. (Today was final cut day in the NFL.)

That surprised me.

Would not be surprised if the Partiots or Broncos turn to him as quarterback help/protection.

The return of the NFL provides this fan with a needed escape from the real world.

Jon: I am not sure I would react as well to an extended layoff as well as you seem to have done.

I am almost 47, graduated college in 1984.

The longest I've been out of work was three summers ago was roughly the same time you were, but I was only out of work for six weeks -- and they were the longest six weeks of my life.

This would be a brutal time to be out of work. The lady who cleans our dealership is leaving in two weeks to join her husband in Kansas City -- the GM plant close here, and he was offered a spot there after almost 30 years at the Delaware plant. Anyhow, after just a couple days, more than 30 applicants have applied for that job.

I guess I will be heading for bed before long. But I do want to say that there are a lot of caring, good, honest people who are part of this site, which isn't the most common thing nowadays.

bedtimeforbonzo:

If you don't mind me asking, did you see business get any better from the clunkers and what have you seen since then? (If you've addressed this I'm sorry but I haven't been reading blogs as much because I've been busy)

I have to admit that it seems a lot of my worst fears are coming to fruition. Back in 07 I thought that we'd see a fall with a near complete collapse, then a spring/summer with stability/moderate "growth" that would get everyone excited but would be all on the "top end" (i.e. asset prices and inventory restocking, not jobs or wages) which would take the message off the millions suffering silently. I thought that the fall/winter would then see another plunge harder than the first.

So far except for the latter part, everything has gone exactly like I expected except I was off one year -- I thought Sept 08 would be Sept 07. I'm also not sure whether we will plunge as soon as I expected or whether we'll hang on...Roubini et. al seem to be calling for two quarters of growth before another recession.

Whatever the case, many people are going through their personal depressions as shown in the stats. I am concerned that a couple million people will see their unemployment benefits expire in the next six months and be ignored because "the recession is over" and companies may see large profits due to how much of the workforce has been cut. I ask about the cash for clunkers because I'm naturally an optimist but I'm a pessimist looking at all the numbers and when I read that we're only 1/3 through all the bad credit. Right now I think programs like that are large enough to give false hope but not large enough to really change any dynamics, and that this is paralyzing us towards making any real reforms.

Sorry for the rather impersonal tone, that's just how I relate. Things are kind of surreal to me on the other end because I am seeing my life's dreams on the cusp of reality. Of course I'm spending more time trying to figure out the best way to help people when I'm in that position than actually being excited about it.

DeLong is divvying economists along (as I interpret it) an axis that separates non-ideologue Republicans and Democrats from ideologue Republicans.

I think the division he has in mind, at least as far as Republicans go, is between those whose paycheck depends on providing accurate information and those whose paycheck, or ideological commitments, require them to stick to the party line.

BTFB, my heart goes out to you.

I've been out of work now for 5 months (the longest I've been out of work since the mid-80s) and hope to avoid the "goat raper" issue by virtue of being enrolled in a worker retraining program, learning a new career.

I used to be a patent paralegal. Now I'm studying to be a medical assistant. It's a field I'm genuinely excited about getting into (I love medicine and science) but it's also a job that will never pay better than 2/3 what I made as a paralegal. I will have gone from being comfortably middle-class to hanging onto the middle class by my fingernails - and that's assuming I do manage to find a job in my new field by the time my unemployment runs out.

I've known this country was trending to downward mobility for a while, as our working and middle classes were systematically looted and gutted, but it's still a punch in the gut to actually experience the phenomenon. I'm so profoundly, genuinely relieved not to have kids - I can't imagine being in this situation and having that to worry about as well.

mikkel: I've mentioned that Cash for Clunkers, which seems to have given an overall boost to the economy, hurt my side of the street, used cars. I also think new-car sales are going to start looking bleak again now that it's over.

Good luck, CaseyL.

P.S. I had taken a break and just saw the last 90 minutes of this movie, "Eagle Eye," kind of like a modern-day Parallax View. Not as good as that classic, but not bad.

The US cash for clunkers is the improved version of the German Abwrackprämie (which lacked the conditions that the new car would have to have a better mileage per gallon and was produced in-country). It has run out of money this week and now car dealers try to keep the business high by offering discounts etc. One problem (pseudo- I think) is that many cars were not actually wrecked but sold underhand to Poland (which might have made a dent in the thriving trade in stolen cars ;-) ).
---
I was incredibly lucky to get a job at our version of the EPA in late February (fixed-term though) because the one before me on the list turned out to be so complete an.. eh.. donkey cavity* that he had to be fired after less than a month and I got a call, whether I was still interested. Given the current job situation in the chemical industry (and my less than stellar academic achievements) I can only be extremly grateful (and I am not actually dying of overwork as I would be had I gotten a job at BASF or a similar company).

*that's how I interpret some remarks by coworkers

Dear Bedtime,

Sorry to hear you're having such a tough time. Is there anything positive it's feasible for you to do at work while waiting around for customers (like learning Spanish or writing the Great American Novel or growing tomatoes or whatever)? The times I've been unemployed, I've found that because job-seeking involves so much effort that may not result in anything, that it was good for my morale to also get involved in some projects that had tangible short-term results, where you could see that your effort had actually made a difference to something. It doesn't help bringing in money, of course, but it did give me something else to think about and talk about and get up in the morning for.

magistra: One of the ways I pass the time at work, of course, is logging on here and Balloon Juice.

Unless they are linked, I don't really make a point to visit many other blogs, although I have been viewing more non-political sites.

Three Woofs and A Woo is very whimsical and I highly recommend it if you love dogs -- or just need a laugh. (Just type in Three Woofs, easy enough to remember, and it's the only thing that pops up in Google.)

One of the reasons car sales, like most commission-based work, I imagine, is challenging and stressful is that there is so much dead time, yet you need to be "focused" for when you do get a customer.

It used to be of the three 8-hour days and 2 twelves that I work you could count on talking to 5-6 people a day. You might have a fresh sale in that mix, and two or three customers to follow up.

Now you're lucky if you get to talk to three legitmate "ups" -- and most times, if they aren't buying right then and there (this is more emblematic of used-car sales) the chances are not good you will ever see that customer again.

That's why it's important to develop a knack for being pushy without seeming or being too pushy, which is true more than ever since buyers are more educated than ever. Being yourself and maintaining your credibility -- besides having the right product -- is essential these days.

(I've always had a distaste for the flat-out hard sell, and I think it's going to turn off more of today's buyers than it will turn into to sales).

magistra: I don't think I have a novel in me. But, heck, I'm only 47. Did you ever restart your academia search?

Picking up on what Hartmut was saying about the clunkers, I read a blurb in TIME last month where demolition derbies -- which is apparently a very big form of entertainment in this country -- are having trouble finding clunkers to smash up or scap metal to help repair repairable ones.

---

I hope it did not sound like I was dumping on my wife. Frankly, she has been faced with a financial burden she could not have forseen when we got married 5 years ago and I appreciate her staggering work ethic -- cutting hair 4 days a week and keeping a home is no picnic.

One poor trait I obtained from my father is the tendency to withdraw instead opening up when life's burdens become heavy. I hated it when he did it, and now I am doing it.

We are having a barbecque later today, Russian style. We use a copper fire pit and let the wood burn. The meat is not set on the irons until there are nothing but embers. The end product is some incredible juicy meat which Olga has been marinating since morning.

When we have these barbecques, Olga is at her happiest. You can see it relaxes her and puts her back in touch with her homeland.

P.S. If I ever did a write a novel, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better editor than Gary Farber.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a correction is just a correction. Assigning them other motives and purposes is reflextive of a reader's biases, not the outlet posting the correction -- or am I alone in not wanting to get egg on my face?

I don't know if anybody is still reading this thread, but..

Several posts ago, I accused von of not being dispassionate, to which he responded (paraphrase) 'Why should I be dispassionate? I'm very open about what my opinions are.'

I don't think von is an 'enemy' nor that he is a typical RedState type - hardly. But I think my accusation stands: being dispassionate in your argumentation is not the same as not having a point of view. This, in fact, isn't a court of law, in which opposing lawyers try to convince jury or judge whatever it is they were hired to do - they have a fixed position which they then try to support. This is a discussion. If von feels like spinning, that's his business, but I don't see the point in it; the chart, and the spin thereof, will convince no one who doesn't already agree with his point of view. Obviously he wasn't *hired* to do anything here. But he is trying to spin data to support an a priori conclusion, which is the same function the hired-lawyer provides.

____

Sorry to hear of others' work woes. My recession hit a couple years ago, and it's been pretty dispiriting. I'm in my early 50s, and it's challenging to start over at this age. My wife and I have no kids and have essentially no debt (the two are probably related), so that, along with my wife's health insurance, has made it all survivable. But it's not fun being underemployed, with the prospect of staying that way for at least a few more years - and maybe forever. Being a product of the 'old' America, I am an almost irrepressible optimist - I never give up; but even if I do find a new niche eventually, I know that lots of others like me won't. Seems to me that the coming political debates (and the present one, ie health care) will be about how/whether the welfare state will be expanded to deal with the survival of all the 'excess' people. If the ideological GOP wins more than it loses in the coming years, well....lets just say: I've been to Argentina and I've been to Western Europe, and I know which model I prefer.

Well said, jonnyb.

(Fo some reason, I pictured you as much younger, which, I guess, is a good thing).

Sometimes it's good to re-read older threads. I now know what happened to my "missing" comment (the one right before yours) that never showed up in Lindsay's Kinsley post.

I pictured you as much younger, which, I guess, is a good thing).

I don't know if that's a good thing or not! Thanks for the shout.

Von,

I just wanted to apologize for the Red State comment. I didn't mean it as some may have read it. I saw the word 'unemployment' and it struck a chord close to me. My father was fired out of the blue and about thirty minutes later had a massive heart attack.

Sigh.

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