Friday, June 6, 2014

Economic news old and new

New unemployment claims were up slightly but are still near the seven year low last seen before the Bush crash really started to pick up speed.

Over 217,000 jobs were created in May maintaining the average that we've seen during this slow climb out of the hole that the GOP has been endeavouring to keep us in. With immigration near zero that is about 150,000 more jobs than the number of new people entering the workforce. The unemployment rate based on household surveys remained unchanged at 6.3%. This is surprisingly the same rate of unemployment seen at this point in the Reagan Presidency.

However Reagan spent upwards of $11 trillion (in today's dollars) on stimulus to jump start the economy. Most of the money was squandered on military spending of course. He doubled the size of the USN to counter an imaginary Soviet buildup. This included four combat groups built around WWII battleships that were obsolete when Reagan was serving in the Army film office in Hollywood. He also funded an entirely new ICBM system that was immediately scrapped thanks to Reagan's nuclear weapons treaty with the Soviets. Reagan reinvigorated fears of nuclear annihilation to push through spending $1t (or the equivalent of $3.5t) on SDI or Star Wars research that produced exactly nothing.

Reagan did fund some highway safety improvements like guardrails and sand barrels at bridge abutments. Not so many bridges though. He did pay for lots of airport runway improvements, these were mostly at small remote airports to make them long enough to handle corporate jets. This was supposed to bring jobs to rural america. Of course at the same time he was signing stacks of exemptions to tariffs that began the de-industrialization of America.  

Speaking of thing no longer made in this country, China has agreed to abide by a WTO ruling that China must end its tariffs on the export of Rare Earth metals. These metals are essential to just about everything that we would consider to be a 21st century product. This does nothing to address 97% monopoly that China has on production of these metals. Eventual monopolization of metals was a policy that China put in place when Reagan began normalizing trade with China. Geo W Bush allowed the sale of all existing US rare earth production equipment to China shortly after 9-11. Building a new rare earth industry in the US is a ten to twenty year project, and there is very little being done about it.

The SEC has announced that they are coming out with new regulations on high speed stock trading that basically takes advantage of stock market swings in the nano-seconds before this knowledge becomes available to the public. The SEC also says they will address the so-called Dark Pools where something like 60% of all stocks are traded with no transparency to the public. We'll see if this new regulation turns out to be anything meaningful.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - on a computer not made in the US, and that even if we tried to build in the US we would need parts that can only be made in China thanks to Reagan and friends. In his mind Reagan was one of the Greatest Generation, but he really should be remembered for what he actually did.


Anonymous said...

Another Reagan inovation was to end free tuition to California's colledges and universitys. Other states followed the lead. It used to be higher education was supported by the Federal, state, and local governments to the point tuition was only 20% of the cost. Today tuition is 80% of the cost and governmemt assistance is 20%. The total student debt is over one trillion dollars. A lot of eligible people are bypassing higher education to the Country's detrement.