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Years of Tragic Waste
By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times
September 6, 2013 (Edition)

In a few days, we’ll reach the fifth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers — the moment when a recession, which was bad enough, turned into something much scarier. Suddenly, we were looking at the real possibility of economic catastrophe.

And the catastrophe came.

Wait, you say, what catastrophe? Weren’t people warning about a second Great Depression? And that didn’t happen, did it? Yes, they were, and no, it didn’t — although the Greeks, the Spaniards, and others might not agree about that second point. The important thing, however, is to realize that there are degrees of disaster, that you can have an immense failure of economic policy that falls short of producing total collapse. And the failure of policy these past five years has, in fact, been immense…

…I think it’s important to realize how badly policy failed and continues to fail. Right now, Washington seems divided between Republicans who denounce any kind of government action — who insist that all the policies and programs that mitigated the crisis actually made it worse — and Obama loyalists who insist that they did a great job because the world didn’t totally melt down.

Obviously, the Obama people are less wrong than the Republicans. But, by any objective standard, U.S. economic policy since Lehman has been an astonishing, horrifying failure.

Friday morning, at 8:30AM, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August 2013 Employment Situation Report will be published. I’m pretty sure—like virtually every monthly BLS’ Employment Situation Report in the past five years--it’ll be somewhere between abysmal and mediocre. (NOTE: Latest prognostications from economists point to a consensus of 180,000 jobs added last month.)

This morning, Paul Krugman really does speak for me. Dean Baker, too...

Scary Thought on Labor Day Weekend: Obama's Economic Team Think They Are Doing a Good Job     
Dean Baker
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Saturday, 31 August 2013 07:41

Ezra Klein gives us some terrifying news in a Bloomberg column today. President Obama's economic team think they are doing a great job, hence the desire to bring back former teammate Larry Summers as Fed chair. This is terrifying because the economy this Labor Day is described by a set of statistics that can only be described as horrible.

We are almost 9 million jobs below the trend level of employment. The number of people involuntarily working part-time is still up by almost 4 million from its pre-recession level. Wages have been stagnant for a decade and show no signs of increasing any time soon. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the economy is still operating more than $1 trillion (6 percent) below its potential. Oh, and by the way, the financial sector is more concentrated than ever, with top honchos drawing the same sort of paychecks they did before the crisis.

I could go on but what's the point? This is an economy that under other circumstances we would all say is awful. The Obama team can pat themselves on the back for saying its better than a second Great Depression, but that's a bit like saying that the 1962 Mets didn't lose all their games. Horrible is horrible.

The best that can be said is that the crew has been ineffectual in the face of Republican opposition in building any sort of political support for a stronger economic agenda. But ineffectual is not a much better recommendation than incompetent...


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Originally posted to http://www.dailykos.com/user/bobswern on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 01:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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