Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Little Roundup

First, I haven't posted this graph in quite some time, so let me update the Calculated Risk Blog's chart of percent job losses in recessions since WWII:
It's hard to pick the intersection with "normal" since it goes beyond the edge of the plot, it looks like employment will return to pre-recession levels at around 80 months since the start of the '08 recession.  There's some disagreement on exactly when to count the start, but most writers seem to peg it in December of '07 or early in '08.  That means recovery will be complete in late 2014 to early 2015.  But I don't think I believe that.  First, it seems like there's a second dip coming, and second, this is just the "news blurb" unemployment number that the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes up with, so it doesn't include the number of people who are out of the market.  It doesn't reflect the "labor participation rate" being lower than any time since 1978. 

In the past, I've pointed out something that may not leap out at you: notice that the four longest recessions since WWII have been the four most recent recessions, in order by date.  If that trend continues, the next recession will be longer than 80 months, and probably by a large margin.  I believe the explanation for that is the continually increasing regulations and laws we live under are stretching them out. 

Next is a plot I should have posted yesterday.  This is the 30 year bond breaking out of its flag pattern.  Obviously, we have long way to go to get to that 2011 peak, and 2011 was deep in the current recession, so the fact that yields are up is not a sign of gloom in itself, it's just saying that the Fed's policies aimed at keeping interest rates near zero are running out of life.  Note that with the exception of a short retreat earlier this year, the rate has been going up since the summer of 2012.  (image from
Pew reported on Tuesday that:
For the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53%) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago. The share saying the U.S. is less powerful has increased 12 points since 2009 and has more than doubled – from just 20% – since 2004.
I think a result like this comes from more and more people feeling their country and the world they knew are slipping away.  People know something is wrong, they just haven't quite figured out what to do about it.

Finally, a note that famous Marxist Nelson Mandela apparently died of old age today (yeah, I know, they'll call it something else, but he was 95 and stuff just stops working well for most people by that age).  Good riddance.  You can be sure all sorts of twits will be talking about how wonderful he was.  Dying of old age is a privilege his wife denied many, as she's credited with the invention of "necklacing" - tying political enemies up with a petrol-soaked tire around their necks and shoulders, and then lighting it on fire.  An incredibly awful way to be killed, done as a warning to those who were not being executed that day, to keep them from crossing Nelson.  Both Nelson and Winnie are on record endorsing it to execute enemies of their ANC party.

NOTE: Edited to add (12/6 1330 EST) Bayou Renaissance Man has a couple of long pieces on Nelson Mandela which are considerably more kind to Mandela than I was here.  Peter is a South African expatriate, and so has much more knowledge about events and history there than I do.  Further, in my haste, I misread that Wikipedia piece I linked to as saying Nelson personally endorsed necklacing, when it clearly says it was his wife:

" Winnie Mandela, then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and a senior member of the ANC, even made statements that endorsed its use.[2]

One  comment that I like sums up the situation by saying that there were simply no alternatives to terrorism when Mandela was starting his revolt against the administration - it was the living embodiment of JFK's quote that "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." What matters more is how he lived after his successful overthrow of the government.  While I personally won't be doing any celebration of his life, I won't be doing any celebration of his death, either. 

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