Teetering or in Free-Fall?

February 1, 2008

U.S. Economy Unexpectedly Sheds 17,000 Jobs

The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, the first monthly decline in four years and the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.
Until now, the labor market had been growing at a steady if softening pace. Many economists pointed to expanding payrolls as the final holdout in a sluggish economy weighed down by trouble on Wall Street, the collapse of the housing bubble, and a cascade of credit problems linked to soured subprime mortgages.
But the January employment report cast the job market in a startlingly darker light. Jobs disappeared across a broad spectrum of professions, with the steepest losses coming in the manufacturing, construction and goods-producing industries.
. . . “This is the clearest signal yet that the job market is either in or teetering on a recession,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
With economists who think that this is the ‘clearest signal yet’ of what might be this or could be that, but most probably is something they don’t understand and have yet to identify–it’s small wonder we’re where we are.
The laughable fact is that Wall Street pays these guys like 300-home-run-outfielders to bump into each other at the water-cooler.
Laughable is one thing, but the scary part is that George Bush sounds worried. The guy who provoked al-Qaeda to ‘bring it on,’ the fella who swaggers when all others cringe, the man who would rather ride his bike than study his lessons–like any other healthy twelve-year-old–dropped the following statement on reporters in Kansas City;

“There are certainly some troubling signs, serious signs that the economy is weakening, and we’ve got to do something about it,” he said.
Mr. Bush said he was confident of the economy’s fundamental strength but that the employment report showed reasons for concern. “I think government can take decisive action to help us deal with this period of uncertainty,” he said.

Splash–the turd in the punch-bowl of economic prosperity.
The Bush confidence in the economy’s fundamental strength brings a shudder of horror, a chill of recognition to that same term, that he repeatedly applied to confidence
  • in finding WMDs in Iraq
  • in L. Paul Bremer’s sending the Iraqi Army home
  • in “Heckuva job” William Brown over at FEMA during Katrina
  • in Donald “known unknowns and unknown unknowns” Rumsfeld
  • in Roberto “Senator, I can’t remember” Gonzales
  • in Paul “my girlfriend was never the issue” Wolfowitz

This nation’s fundamental economic strength just went off the edge of what might metaphorically be called “Hoover’s Dam,” because of three decades of decadence (do they share the same root?) exacerbated by six terrifyingly ignorant and willful years of presidential mismanagement.

Everything the president evidenced and expressed confidence in over the term of his governance has turned to absolute garbage. Invoking the Theory of Inverse Relationship, it is possible (not credible, but possible) that Mr. Bush’s Ouija-board comment that the “employment report showed reasons for concern” may be our best hope.

He has yet to be right–about anything.

And therein lies the only (and perhaps best) hope that there is no reason for concern.

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