A Second Stimulus Bill Needed

Great Depression: man dressed in worn coat lyi...Image via Wikipedia
New York Times: Second Recession in U.S. Could Be Worse Than First: the economy is much weaker than it was at the outset of the last recession in December 2007, with most major measures of economic health — including jobs, incomes, output and industrial production — worse today than they were back then. And growth has been so weak that almost no ground has been recouped, even though a recovery technically started in June 2009. ..... When the last downturn hit, the credit bubble left Americans with lots of fat to cut, but a new one would force families to cut from the bone. Making things worse, policy makers used most of the economic tools at their disposal to combat the last recession, and have few options available. ....... the four years since the recession began ...... Today the economy has 5 percent fewer jobs — or 6.8 million — than it had before the last recession began. The unemployment rate was 5 percent then, compared with 9.1 percent today..... the typical private sector worker has a shorter workweek today than four years ago...... Income levels are low, and moving in the wrong direction ...... with construction nearly nonexistent and home prices down 24 percent since December 2007, the country does not have a buffer in housing to fall back on. ..... the economy is smaller today than it was when the recession began ....... Unlike during the first downturn, there would be few policy remedies available if the economy were to revert back into recession. ....... Interest rates cannot be pushed down further — they are already at zero. The Fed has already flooded the financial markets with money by buying billions in mortgage securities and Treasury bonds, and economists do not even agree on whether those purchases substantially helped the economy. So the Fed may not see much upside to going through another politically controversial round of buying. ...... at the end of 2007, the federal debt was 64.4 percent of the economy. Today, it is estimated at around 100 percent of gross domestic product, a share not seen since the aftermath of World War II, and there is little chance of lawmakers reaching consensus on additional stimulus that would increase the debt. ...... “There is no approachable precedent, at least in the postwar era, for what happens when an economy with 9 percent unemployment falls back into recession” ...... 1937, when there was also a premature withdrawal of fiscal stimulus, and the economy fell into another recession more painful than the first ..... Corporate profits are at record highs
Even before this recession hit in 2007 China was on schedule to become the number one economy in the world by 2016. Continued policy mistakes in America might only hasten that process. There has been much self destructive behavior.

The stimulus bill was not big enough. The stimulus money was not spent fast like it needed to be to have any effect. One third of the stimulus bill was tax cuts. That was a mistake. Obama did that to get Republican votes, and no Republican voted for the bill anyway. That instead was seen as a sign of weakness and might have hastened the Republican takeover of the House.

The biggest chunk of the stimulus bill needed to go to taking all of America to one gigabit per second kind of broadband. Instead the biggest chunk of the money went to old economy stuff and to humdrum payments. Paying the unemployed is important, but paying the unemployed is not what creates the next generation of jobs.

The threat of a double dip is very real. And the one thing that can save the country is a stimulus bill.

The biggest mistake perhaps has been to apply Great Depression lessons to the Great Recession. The Great Recession is America reeling from a lack of global institutions that globalization asks for. Capital wants to go global at breakneck speeds, but the global infrastructure to make that happen is not there. The Great Depression gave us macroeconomics. The Great Recession needs to give us globoeconomics.

What is needed is massive jobs programs, massive public works programs. Send a million mentors into the inner city schools, and pay them. Send another million to whitewash the roofs across America, and pay them.

Extending the Bush tax cuts was nothing less than criminal.
New York Times: London Sees Twin Perils Converging to Fuel Riot: Frustration in this impoverished neighborhood, as in many others in Britain, has mounted as the government’s austerity budget has forced deep cuts in social services. At the same time, a widely held disdain for law enforcement here, where a large Afro-Caribbean population has felt singled out by the police for abuse, has only intensified through the drumbeat of scandal that has racked Scotland Yard in recent weeks and led to the resignation of the force’s two top commanders...... there was not long to wait until a new one erupted: across London, skirmishes broke out on Sunday between groups of young people and large numbers of riot police officers, which one officer said were drawn from forces around London. ...... In Enfield, a usually calm suburb, shop windows were smashed and debris lay in the street. In nearby Edmonton, groups of young people gathered near damaged storefronts. In Tottenham itself, roads were closed, a helicopter hovered overhead and squads of police vans swooped in to make arrests in side streets. ....... The march turned into a pitched battle between hundreds of officers, some on horses, and equal numbers of rioters, wearing bandannas and armed with makeshift weapons that included table legs and an aluminum crutch. Looting throughout northern London continued past dawn, leaving streets littered with glass. In daylight, residents emerged to survey buildings, many considered landmarks, that had been left gutted and smoldering. ........ unless endemic youth unemployment in Tottenham was curbed, “this will happen again. These kids don’t care. They don’t have to pay for this damage, we do. Working people do. What do they have to lose?” ...... many voiced concern that looters in other areas of London had been allowed to smash and steal for several hours before officers arrived. ....... Economic malaise and cuts in spending and services instituted by the Conservative-led government have been recurring flashpoints for months. ....... Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were attacked in their Rolls-Royce as protesters — some of whom were subsequently jailed — shouted “Tory scum,” a reference to the Conservative Party’s traditional links with the aristocracy, and “off with their heads!” In March, a reported 500,000 people marched against the cuts, with some protesters occupying the exclusive food store Fortnum & Mason — Prince Charles’s grocer. ...... one man shouted, “This is our battle!” When asked what he meant, the man, Paul Rook, 47, explained that he felt the rioters were taking on “the ruling class.” ....... As the budget cuts take hold, risk of unemployment increases and social measures like youth projects are sacrificed, Mr. Beech said, and “all logic says there will be an increase in antisocial behavior.” “Boredom, alienation and isolation are going to be factors”
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