Thursday, July 22, 2004


In fact, Stephen Roach is a Wall Street shill, which means he is more interested in knowing the reality of underlying economic conditions so his employer can make gobs of money than he is in assigning blame for political reasons. Nonetheless, he ain't afraid to tell it straight about how crappy the economy has performed under Bush. In this morning's NYT:

More than a million jobs have been added to total nonfarm payrolls over the past four months, the sharpest increase since early 2000.

These gains certainly compare favorably with the net loss of 594,000 jobs in the first 27 months of this recovery. But there's little cause for celebration: the increases barely make a dent in the weakest hiring cycle in modern history. From the trough of the last recession in November 2001 through last month, private sector payrolls have risen a paltry 0.2 percent. This stands in contrast to the nearly 7.5 percent increase recorded, on average, over the comparable 31-month interval of the six preceding recoveries.

Nor is there much reason to celebrate the type of jobs that have been created over the past four months. In general, they have been at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

...Desperate to maintain lifestyles, [American families] have turned to far riskier sources of support. Reliance on tax cuts has led to record budget deficits, and borrowing against homes has led to record household debt. These trends are dangerous and unsustainable, and they pose a serious risk to economic recovery.

We hear repeatedly that the employment disconnect is all about productivity - that America needs to hire fewer workers because the ones already working are more efficient. This may well be true, but there is a more compelling explanation: global labor arbitrage.

It was only a matter of time before the globalization of work affected the United States labor market. The character and quality of American job creation is changing before our very eyes. Which poses the most important question of all: what are we going to do about it?

For starters, how about throwing Bush out of office? There may be no easy answers to this challenge, but at least in Kerry we get someone who recognizes it as a problem, and a serious one at that.


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