Friday, December 5, 2014

Party like it's 1999

You're one of the 321,000 people who got a new job that was created in November and you are really stoked, but some dude at work just won't leave you alone. He rants about the President being impeached and says how he's wrecking the economy by raising taxes. You really don't know what to think about that stuff because for you things are looking up. Now he's telling you that at the end of the month the world as we know it is going to end. What he's telling you about now sort of makes sense, so you make a mental note to buy extra batteries for your portable CD player on the way home. You know just in case the computers all crash because of Y2K and we're back in the stone age on New Year's Day.

1999 was the last time we had 321,000 new jobs in one month. Clinton had survived impeachment early in the year and the budget was running a $250 billion annual surplus. It was projected that by the end of Al Gore's second term that all the Federal debt except for the Social Security Trust Fund would be retired. Republicans were talking about a Lock Box for the Social Security money and Clinton tried to endorse the concept, but what the GOP really meant was passing a law that would reduce the debt ceiling for every dollar added to the Social Security Trust.

This was all turned on its head by Bush who would in a couple of years be telling everyone that those bonds were worthless and Social Security should be privatised. Bush of course was spending money on the credit card almost as fast as Reagan did. Not a penny of Reagan's debt was ever repaid and was  original paying as much as 20% interest. Clinton was able to refinance it with low interest bonds. Under Obama we're paying nearly zero interest, but you can guess what will happen if the GOP were to actually get control again. It is possible to drive interest rates up to Reagan levels and drown the Federal Government in interest payments, that being their goal all along.

Back to the Future, today we have a huge number of new jobs in November and the gains for September and October together were revised upward by 44,000 new jobs. Job gains have been broad based with substantial increases in manufacturing, transportation and construction jobs. Healthcare continues to add jobs defying Conservative claims that people are losing access due to Obamacare.

The Republicans won't give Obama credit for $2.00 gasoline even though it was his fault when it was pushing $4.00. The GOP is also floating the meme that low gas prices are destructive to the economy, and they say THAT is Obama's fault. With the Conservatives keeping score, he can't win. Rapidly falling fuel prices are deflationary and that can be bad. Average hourly wages are actually going up and that's inflationary, hopefully reaching a balance point that produces growth. As long as the Federal Reserve continues to ignore the Conservatives and keep interest rates low we could see a semblance of prosperity. That's assuming that Obama continues to out think the half witted Republicans and they can't throw a wrench into the works.

Things actually look pretty good for 2015, more jobs, higher wages, low gas price and declining deficit. Sure, most government economic policies still suck, but at least the computers aren't going to crash.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - let's all party like it's 1999 again.