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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Coming Crash of 2013

On Inauguration Day, 2009, President Obama seemed so politically blessed by the timing of developing economic trends. I expected that based on American economic history, recovery from the recession should have occurred some time during 2009. Even the longest previous recession since the Great Depression would have resulted in a recovery in summer 2009, as the recession began in December 2007.

Moreover, prior American history had shown that the deeper the recession the stronger the recovery. So I was expecting President Obama to pass his economic recovery plan, as foolhardy and ineffective as I believed it would be, and then to ride a wave of adulation as the economy roared back later in the year, which it should have done just on its own according to long established rhythms of the business cycle.

So even I have been surprised by the reality that President Obama's economic policies have been so disastrous that they have prevented any real recovery from getting off the ground, at what is now three and a half years since the recession began.

In America, the economy does not fall into stagnation and just lie there for years, which is the narrative of the Obama Administration, thinking the American people are too stupid to know their own country. Our economy has periodically fallen into recessions, but recovers to show robust economic growth within a year or two. That is why chief White House economist Austan Goolsbee, who does know better, is playing with us when he says as he did last Friday in response to the May jobs report, "there are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years."

The Worst Recovery Since the Great Depression

How much time do Obama and Goolsbee think they have to do their job right for the American people? In every other recession since the Great Depression, the overall trajectory of the economy has been dramatically better after two years. But not this time. Since the Great Depression, recessions have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously being 16 months. Yet, in May, 41 months after the recession began, unemployment rose yet again, to 9.1%. America has now suffered the longest period with unemployment that high since the Great Depression.

The depression for African Americans continued, as unemployment among them rose again to 16.2%. Hispanics continued with unemployment at double digit depression levels as well, with unemployment among them also rising again to nearly 12%. For teenagers, the depression level unemployment persisted at 24.2%; for black teenagers, over 40%. The U6 unemployment rate, counting those marginally attached to the labor force who have given up looking in the Obama "recovery," and those stuck in part time unemployment for economic reasons, continued at nearly 16%.

While the Reagan recovery, a real recovery from a similarly deep recession, averaged 7.1% real economic growth over the first 7 quarters, the Obama recovery has produced less than half that at 2.8%, with the last quarter at a dismal 1.8%. While the Reagan recovery produced nearly 20 million new jobs, and civilian employment rose by almost 20%, today America still suffers 6.8 million fewer jobs than when the recession started over 3 years ago. The labor force participation rate has fallen to its lowest level almost since the Reagan recovery started over 25 years ago. As the Wall Street Journal explained on Monday:
This is an important economic measure because it reflects the opportunities that Americans perceive in the marketplace. In the long boom from the Reagan years through 2000 or so, the labor force participation rate took a historic leap upward as women, immigrants and others entered the job market…. It has now fallen off a cliff, and we doubt that is what Mr. Goolsbee means when he hails the "trajectory of the economy."
I have previously discussed why this happened. Obamanomics doggedly followed the opposite of Reaganomics in every detail. The centerpiece of Obamanomics was the old-fashioned Keynesianism that was a proven failure and left for dead 30 years ago. That was reflected most of all in Obama's February 2009 trillion dollar stimulus package. That didn't work because borrowing a trillion dollars out of the economy to spend a trillion dollars back into the economy does not add anything to the economy on net.

And borrowing two trillion for the stimulus instead still wouldn't have done it, for the same reason. Those calling for still more of the same Keynesian snake oil are just self-identifying themselves as hopelessly deluded fools who must not be taken seriously ever again. Worse than not working, Obama's trillion dollar stimulus already drove us to the brink of bankruptcy. Going for still more now as advocated by the mentally blinded would be walking off the cliff with our eyes closed.

Great Depression 2.0

Hard as it may be to imagine, where we are headed under Obamanomics will be worse than where we have been. The economic indicators are increasingly flashing economic decline already. Once the Bush tax cuts were extended to 2013, I didn't expect to see that until then, for all of the reasons below. But Obamanomics keeps deteriorating faster than even I expected.

Already scheduled now under current law in 2013 is the expiration of those Bush tax cuts, which President Obama has refused to renew for single workers making over $200,000 a year, and couples making over $250,000. Also scheduled to go into effect in 2013 under current law are all the tax increases of Obamacare. Together, these job killing tax policies would result in a sharp increase in the tax rates on the nation's small businesses, job creators, and investors for virtually every major federal tax.

These taxpayers would see their income tax rates jump by nearly 20%, the capital gains tax rate increase by nearly 60%, the total tax rate on corporate dividends increase by nearly three times, their Medicare payroll tax rate increase by 62%, and the death tax rise from the grave with a 55% rate. This would go way beyond the outdated Obama talking point about returning to the Clinton tax rates, adding up to a top federal tax rate of 44.8% on wage income alone, besides all the tax increases on capital income, on the way up to a 62% top federal tax rate.

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