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Economy Nearing Carter-Era Catastrophe – Volcker Present Again

Jobless RecoveryInterpreting the latest unemployment report could make one’s head spin, but there is valuable information in it other than the tragic 10.2% unemployment rate and the fact that the economy has shed an additional 190,000 jobs in the last month.  Yahoo news points at a separate survey that shows 558,000 more people were unemployed in October than September.  This discrepancy is due to the fact that once someone gives up looking for a job or runs out of benefits, they are not longer technically “unemployed”.

Paul Volcker, the President’s chief economic adviser, and others are pointing to the idea that perhaps this is a jobless recovery.  To be a jobless recovery – first, one would expect a recovery.  If the economy were recovering, credit wouldn’t be shrinking, banks would be mending, and consumers would be spending.  In direct contradiction to a jobless recovery:

5 banks failed this week, 121 for this year alone:

United Commercial Bank, San Francisco, CA
Gateway Bank of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Prosperan Bank, Oakdale, MN
Home Federal Savings Bank, Detroit, MI
United Security Bank, Sparta, GA

Consumer spending dropped by the largest amount in nine months:
Consumer Spending Falls In September, Biggest Drop In Nine Months

Consumer confidence drops in October:
Consumer Confidence Survey

Real incomes flat and spending drops relative to inflation:

Income Flat, Spending Falls as Consumers Stay Wary

The sources vary, but are consistent.  We are not experiencing a jobless recovery, we are heading into a jobless stagnation.  This is exactly where we were during the Carter years, we are following the same actions under some of the same people, and are expecting a different result.

Many credit Volcker’s fed for ending inflation during the Reagan era by invoking a recession to reign-in out-of-control inflation.  The problem being, we don’t have any inflation.  With real-incomes dropping, consumption dissipating and credit drying-up, there is not way for producers to raise prices and expect anyone to buy much of anything.  So is the recent push of massive government spending an attempt to re-ignite inflation so that Bernanke and Volcker can work together to end it and save us all?

Carter era gas lines

Carter era gas lines

During the early 80′s, Volcker created a recession on purpose by tightening monetary policy.  His Keynesian theory then was that it was more important to reign-in inflation than save jobs.  This measure was actually needed only because of  failed Keynesian thought that continuing inflation was good for the economy.  Using monetarist policies, he corrected what Keynesian thought had brought about.

The problem now is that we don’t have job growth and we don’t have inflation.  The massive amounts of cash being poured into the economy by the Fed are not inducing price increases, it’s just watering down the money supply.  Money is being dumped into the stock market at alarming rates, mainly because there’s nowhere else for it to go.  Buying bonds is self-defeating considering the Treasury rates, investing in business at this time is suicidal.. Bernanke is using failed tactics probably at the behest of Obama’s chief adviser on the economy.  Monetary deflation with no corresponding economic inflation.

This looks like an orchestrated attempt to cause inflation so that we can do the same things that we did before.  Dump trillions into the economy and eventually producers will raise prices… well..  what if they don’t?   What if we just end up with a dept to income ratios (debt-to-GDP) rate of 70%+ (we’re at 66% by the way)?  We could easily end up spending everything that comes into this country to just service debt.  The Japanese have lost a decade of growth to thinking like this.

It’s time to cut spending, quit dumping money into the economy, let the pain correct the bubble that exists and move forward.  The Fed created the near hyper-inflationary mess that cost Carter his Presidency, made a mess during Bush’s stay, and is trying to put us in a place where they have any clue of what to do.  I am fairly certain that they don’t know how to get us to that place or a healthy economy.

While Obama is busy blaming bush, he has kept on the one person probably the most-responsible for the mess we have – Bernanke.  The President has also brought Carter’s Volcker back into the mix and Barack is egging them both on.  One can hope this is more due to nativity than purpose.

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Comments (2)

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  1. regeya says:

    Quick, anyone remember who appointed Volcker to the Fed?

    • Jimmy Carter nominated Volcker in as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Congress approved it.

      Volcker was appointed as Deputy Undersecretary of Monetary affairs in 1963 – during John F. Kennedy’s presidency.

      Volcker is currently enjoying an assignment as a Presidential adviser at the request of President Obama.

      All of Volcker’s major nominations were made by Democrats.