Monday, June 20, 2011

Tuesday: Did Obama save us from a Depression?


Did Obama save us from a Depression?

“....The conclusion is that in claiming to have staved off a Depression, THE WHITE HOUSE AND ITS SUPPORTERS SEEM TO BE ENGAGING IN A BIT OF HISTORICAL REVISIONISM.

Economists weren't predicting a Depression.

White House economists forecast in January 2009 that, even without a stimulus, unemployment would top out at just 8.8% — well below the 10.8% peak during the 1981-82 recession, and nowhere near Depression-era unemployment levels.

The same month, the CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE PREDICTED THAT, ABSENT ANY STIMULUS, THE RECESSION WOULD END IN "THE SECOND HALF OF 2009." The recession officially ended in June 2009, suggesting that the stimulus did not have anything to do with it.

The data weren't showing it, either.

The argument is often made that the recession turned out to be far worse than anyone knew at the time. But VARIOUS INDICATORS SHOW THAT THE ECONOMY HAD PRETTY MUCH HIT BOTTOM AT THE END OF 2008 — A MONTH BEFORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK OFFICE.

MONTHLY GDP, FOR EXAMPLE, STOPPED FREE-FALLING IN DECEMBER 2008, long before the stimulus kicked in, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. (See nearby chart.) MONTHLY JOB LOSSES BOTTOMED OUT IN EARLY 2009 WHILE THE INDEX OF LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS STARTED TO RISE IN APRIL.

The stimulus timing is off.

WHEN THE RECESSION OFFICIALLY ENDED IN JUNE 2009, JUST 15% OF THE STIMULUS MONEY HAD GONE OUT THE DOOR. And that figure's likely inflated, since almost a third of the money was in the form of grants to states, which some studies suggest they didn't spend, but used to pay down debt…

This is bad. Take away Obama’s claim of keeping us out of a Depression and he doesn’t have much to run on.

It’s been a good week in Wisconsin

So the state's deficit is fixed, its finances are honest for the first time in about a decade, public services are trimmed but not decimated and no taxpayers were skinned to make it happen. ALL IN ALL, IT'S BEEN A GOOD WEEK FOR WISCONSIN, ESPECIALLY ITS HARD-PRESSED, MIDDLE-CLASS TAXPAYERS.


You might not know that from the theatrics in Madison - the fringe of tents, the bucket-drummers in the rotunda, the activists telling Progressive magazine it's time to make the state "ungovernable."
But that all is precisely theatrics, a show, a tale. The reality is that in our purple battleground of a state, conservative ideas now hold the high ground. Let us count the signs:

THEY'RE WINNING. Scott Walker, Democrats told us all last fall, was a budget-cutting, union-busting, smaller-is-better (eww!) conservative. Voters responded by electing him - and, to boot, not merely Republican but conservative Republican majorities in the Legislature.

When Walker broke the usual low taxes vs. good services impasse by cutting the price we pay for public-sector labor, unions turned the Supreme Court race into a de facto referendum. They spent every milliwatt of power they had - and lost. We'll see if they do better in upcoming recalls (my bet is they don't take the state Senate), but on a clean pair of votes about the state's direction, voters picked conservatism....

Wisconsin has a long history of progressive politics. This shift to the right is a huge problem for the left if it holds.

After surgery, Chavez faces troubles in Venezuela

While President Hugo Chavez has been recovering from pelvic surgery in Cuba, HIS TROUBLES AT HOME IN VENEZUELA HAVE BEEN ACCUMULATING.

On top of 23 percent inflation and growing government debt, worsening blackouts have emerged as a serious dilemma, forcing Chavez's government to announce rationing measures including rolling power outages in some parts of the country.

Chavez is increasingly focused on shoring up support ahead of his 2012 re-election bid, and some analysts say his domestic woes seem to be limiting his international reach in Latin America.
"PRESIDENT CHAVEZ IS GOING THROUGH A VERY DIFFICULT TIME," said Maria Teresa Romero, a professor of international studies at the Central University of Venezuela. "He's not the same Hugo Chavez he was four, five years ago…."

Here is some good news for a change.


Study details significant sea level rise

Sea level has been rising significantly over the past century of global warming, according to a study that offers the most detailed look yet at the changes in ocean levels during the last 2,100 years.
The researchers found that since the late 19th century — as the world became industrialized — SEA LEVEL HAS RISEN MORE THAN 2 MILLIMETERS PER YEAR, ON AVERAGE. THAT'S A BIT LESS THAN ONE-TENTH OF AN INCH, BUT IT ADDS UP OVER TIME.

It will lead to land loss, more flooding and saltwater invading bodies of fresh water, said lead researcher Benjamin Horton whose team examined sediment from North Carolina's Outer Banks. He directs the Sea Level Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

The predicted effects he cites aren't new and are predicted by many climate scientists. But outside experts say the research verifies increasing sea level rise compared to previous centuries.
Kenneth Miller, chairman of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University, called the new report significant.

"This is a very important contribution because it firmly establishes that the rise in sea level in the 20th century is unprecedented for the recent geologic past," said Miller, who was not part of the research team. MILLER SAID HE RECENTLY ADVISED NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE THAT THE STATE NEEDS TO PLAN FOR A SEA LEVEL RISE OF ABOUT 3 FEET BY THE END OF THE CENTURY.....

Another hockey stick of sorts. However what makes this truly foolish is Dr. Miller warning Chris Christie to prepare for a 3 foot rise by the end of the Century. Two millimeters per year would give you a rise of less than 16 inches in a Century.

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