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[VIDEO] Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson: July 23, 2017

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, big banks paid tens of billions of dollars to settle state and federal fraud investigations, yet not one top bank executive was prosecuted. Plus, the eye doctor who first uncovered possible links between erectile dysfunction drugs and permanent blindness. Also, the surprising reason why the federal government is missing-out on some of the best and brightest talent, as it recruits to fight online cyber battles.

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Washington Post Catalogues the Biggest Lies Obama Ever Told

Barack Obama

 reports: The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.

For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.

Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.

But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.

[Read the full story here, at TheBlaze]

Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.

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Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.

“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”

“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


James Grant Explains ‘The Forgotten Depression’

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Mr. Grant confronts the subjectivity of economic measurement head-on in his book in an enlightening discussion of whether the 1921 depression was, in fact, a depression at all.

The Forgotten Depression: 1921 — The Crash That Cured Itself, by James Grant, Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Joseph Calandro Jr. writes: To better understand the current economic environment, financial analyst, historian, journalist, and value investor James forgottendepressionGrant, who is informed by both Austrian economics and the value investing theory of the late Benjamin Graham, analyzes the Depression of 1920–1921 in his latest work, The Forgotten Depression: 1921 — The Crash That Cured Itself.

[Order James Grant’s book “The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself from Amazon.com]

Grant understands that despite the pseudo-natural science veneer of mainstream economics the fact remains that economic value is inherently subjective and thus economic measurement is also subjective. Mr. Grant confronts the subjectivity of economic measurement head-on in his book in an enlightening discussion of whether the 1921 depression was, in fact, a depression at all.

Was It a Depression?

Grant concludes it was a depression, but mainstream economist Christine Romer, for example, concludes it was not a depression. As Grant observes, Ms. “Romer, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, presented her research, titled ‘World War I and the Postwar Depression,’ in a 1988 essay in the Journal of Monetary EconomicsThe case she made for discarding one set of GNP estimates for another is highly technical. But the lay reader may be struck by the fact that neither the GNP data she rejected, nor the ones she preferred, were compiled in the moment. Rather, each set was constructed some 30 to 40 years after the events it was intended to document” (p. 68).

In contrast, Mr. Grant surveys economic activity as it existed prior to and during 1920–21 and as it was evaluated during those times. Therefore, five pages into chapter 5 of his book, which is titled “A Depression in Fact,” we read that:

A 1920 recession turned into a 1921 depression, according to [Wesley Clair] Mitchell, whose judgment, as a historian, business-cycle theorist and contemporary observer, is probably as reliable as anyone’s. This was no mere American dislocation but a global depression ensnaring nearly all the former Allied Powers (the defeated Central Powers suffered a slump of their own in 1919). “Though the boom of 1919, the crisis of 1920 and the depression of 1921 followed the patterns of earlier cycles,” wrote Mitchell, “we have seen how much this cycle was influenced by economic conditions resulting from the war and its sudden ending. … If American business men were betrayed by postwar demands into unwise courses, so were all business men in all countries similarly situated.”

So depression it was … (p. 71)

men-depression-AP

Interestingly, there are a variety of similarities between “The Forgotten Depression” of 1921 and “The Great Recession” of 2007–2008. For example:

  • War finance (the currency debasement and credit expansion associated with funding war) has long been associated with economic distortion including World War I, which preceded “The Forgotten Depression.” Such distortions unfortunately continue to the present day.
  • Scandal is also associated with booms and busts; for example, the boom preceding “The Forgotten Depression” had Charles Ponzi while the boom preceding “The Great Recession” had Bernie Madoff.
  • The booms preceding both financial disruptions also saw governmental banking regulators not doing a very good job of regulating the banks under their supervision.
  • Citibank famously fell under significant distress in both events.
  • Both eras had former professors of Princeton University in high-ranking governmental positions: Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States at the beginning of “The Forgotten Depression” while Ben Bernanke was chairman of the Fed during “The Great Recession.”
  • On the practitioner-side, value investor Benjamin Graham profited handsomely from the distressed investments that he made during “The Forgotten Depression” while his best known student, Warren Buffett, profited from the distressed investments that he made during “The Great Recession.”

The Crash That Cured Itself

Despite similarities, there are noteworthy differences between these two financial events. Foremost among the differences is the reason why “The Forgotten Depression” has, in fact, been forgotten: the government did nothing to stop it. Not only were interest rates not lowered and public money not spent, but interest rates were actually raised and debt paid down. The context behind these actions is fascinating and superbly told and analyzed by Mr. Grant. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Why Do American Companies Leave America?

America is the world’s largest economy, and yet many American companies are moving jobs and factories overseas.

Why do large companies based in the U.S. often move jobs and new factories overseas? Because our current tax system often makes doing business in America a losing proposition compared to expanding internationally. So, just how much more expensive is it to build that next factory or hire that next worker in America?

The American Dream has long evoked the idea that the next generation will have a better life than the previous one. Today, many Americans feel that dream is in jeopardy.

Source: PragerU


Dallas Fed says U.S. Has Lost 70,000 Oil Jobs in the Past Year 

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

HOUSTON – Collin Eaton writes: For American drillers, the New Year will likely bring more of the same – financial pressure and mass layoffs.

The U.S. petroleum industry hasn’t seen this many bankruptcies in one quarter since the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says, counting nine Chapter 11 court filings in the year’s final three-month period. And that’s just a third of the year’s domestic casualty count.

The Dallas Fed also estimates in a new report on Thursday the nation has lost about 70,000 oil and gas jobs since October 2014, a 14.5 percent drop in the 14 months after the domestic shale drilling boom that drew thousands to Houston’s oil hub began a steep decline.

But the sacrifice of dozens of U.S. oil producers, thousands of oil field workers and more than 1,200 drilling rigs still hasn’t stalled U.S. crude production enough to shrink the global oil glut that has sent oil prices below $40 a barrel.

Global crude supplies, the Fed said, could outpace demand by 600,000 barrels a day, and the world’s crude storage tanks may not start to decline until 2017.

That’s in part because increased production from Iran has come on earlier than anticipated and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to continue pumping crude at current levels. Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: Does Lower Labor Force Participation Mean the 5% US Unemployment Rate is a Phony Number? 

James Pethokoukis writes: The current 5%  unemployment rate is half its worst level of the Great Recession. But the jobless rate would be 10.1% if the labor force participation rate — which feeds into the unemployment rate — were back at pre-recession levels. So what is the “real” unemployment rate? The other day, I quoted a new Goldman Sachs study on the LFPR issue:

What about the 3.6pp decline in the labor force participation rate since 2007? While it’s true that the unemployment rate would be much higher if participation had remained stable, we now believe most of the decline since that time should be considered structural. By far the largest contribution to the decline in participation has been an increase in retirees—mostly a natural consequence of the aging of the workforce. Rising disability rates—a trend mostly driven by demographics—and a tendency for young people to remain in school have also played a role.The remaining cyclical component is a relatively modest share of the labor force, and broadly captured by the U6 unemployment rate, in our view.

And n0w the San Francisco Fed offers a similar perspective:

First is the aging of the population. The baby boomers are entering retirement and people are living longer. Remember, the participation rate counts everyoneover 16, so my happily retired parents count as “out of the labor force,” even though, in their 80s, few people would still be working. Second is that younger people aren’t working as much as they used to. But this is partly because many have extended their education or gone back to school, and fewer are working when they’re there. Third is an increase in people deciding they’d rather have single-income families (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007–2014). For whatever reason, they’ve traded a second paycheck for spending more time at home, whether it’s for child care, leisure, or simply that it’s a better lifestyle fit. Each of these groups is made up of people who are not working, but doing so for personal or demographic reasons. As their numbers swell, it will, obviously, push the participation rate down.

As for the area of concern, we’re emerging from the deepest, longest recession since the Great Depression. And it’s true that a lot of people did give up looking for work. A key indicator is the somewhat unfairly named “prime-age males” cohort, who are 25–54. This group has historically been a constant in the American workforce, but in the wake of the recession, its participation fell sharply. However, as the labor market has improved, that number has largely stabilized over the past two years, as has the overall participation rate.

[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The last factor to consider is whether there are people who will reenter the labor force and pull the participation rate back up. The “marginally attached” for instance, a group made up of people who are ready and able to work and who’ve searched for jobs in the past year but who aren’t currently looking. The assumption would reasonably be that this group is poised to return to the labor force. First off, these numbers have come down a lot, falling by over 12% in the past year alone. In addition, my staff has found that, over the past few years, their reentry rate back into the labor force has actually fallen. When you combine this with the aging workforce, it looks unlikely that participation will rise. This is supported by other research from both within and outside the Fed System (Stephanie Aaronson et al. 2014 and Krueger 2015). Overall, the evidence suggests that, even with a quite strong economy, we won’t see a significant number of people come back into the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Well, That Explains It

union-wsj

One can only wonder why the president continues to overlook the American businessmen and women who build the healthy economy that enables workers to find jobs and careers.

Andy Puzder writes: In his remarks at a White House event last week called the Summit on Worker Voice, President Obama said that people who work hard “should be able to get ahead” but went on to acknowledge that workers are “seeing their wages and their incomes flatlining.”

“Here’s the reality: Wages and incomes for workers are stagnant because there aren’t enough jobs…When the job market is strong and businesses must compete for employees, wages and benefits improve. The solution, then, is more jobs. This isn’t rocket science.”

The reason, according to Mr. Obama, is dwindling union membership. “Union membership today is as low as it’s been in about 80 years, since the ’30s,” he said. “And I believe that when folks attack unions, they’re attacking the middle class.” Thus he recommends “making it easier, not harder, for folks join a union.”

“Businesses create jobs; labor unions do not. To the contrary, labor unions often discourage businesses from creating jobs, particularly entry-level ones, by increasing the cost of labor without increasing its value.”

Here’s the reality: Wages and incomes for workers are stagnant because there aren’t enough jobs. It’s a matter of supply and demand. When jobs are scarce and people are unemployed, wages and benefits decline. When the job market is strong and businesses must compete for employees, wages and benefits improve. The solution, then, is more jobs. This isn’t rocket science. One can only wonder why the president continues to overlook the American businessmen and women who build the healthy economy that enables workers to find jobs and careers.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Businesses create jobs; labor unions do not. To the contrary, labor unions often discourage businesses from creating jobs, particularly entry-level ones, by increasing the cost of labor without increasing its value. Even if labor unions could magically lift wages for those lucky enough to have a job in this economy, what about the unemployed?

In September the labor-force participation rate—the percentage of Americans employed or actively looking for work—continued its decline under Mr. Obama, hitting 62.4%, a low last seen 38 years ago during the Carter administration. Read the rest of this entry »


Study: 43 Percent Of Americans ‘Main Source’ Of News Is From Online

Kitchen-Planet

Digital News Sites Continue To Flourish

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Online outlets are the number one source of news in the United States, surpassing both television and print, according to a new study.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 found that 43 percent of Americans identified online sources as their “main source” of news, as reported by Tap Into. Television trails slightly behind with 40 percent of Americans citing it as their main source of news.

Citizens-in-Boulder-Colorado-using-their-smart-phones

“We see the smart phone more clearly as the defining device for digital news with a disruptive impact on consumption, formats, and business models.”

— Nic Newman, Research Associate, Reuters Institute

Research indicates that seven out of ten magazines have lost subscribers in recent years. About half of news magazines analyzed received more visits via mobiledevices than desktops, according to Pew Research Center. The Pew study also found that print newspapers continue to struggle with circulation dropping 3 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Commuters use smartphone

“The U.S., United Kingdom, and Japan showed the most growth in news accessed via smartphones. Average weekly usage has grown from 37 to 46 percent across all countries, with two-thirds of smartphone users  now accessing news through their devices every week.”

The new Reuters study suggests that mobile news and video news consumption online are experiencing substantial growth…(read more)

CBS DC


Minimum Wage Effect? January to June Job Losses for Seattle Area Restaurants (-1,300) Largest Since Great Recession

minwage

Seattle minimum wage hike is getting off to a pretty bad start.

In June of last year, the Seattle city council passed a $15 minimum wage law to be phased in over time, with the first increase to $11 an hour starting on April 1, 2015. What effect will the eventual 58% increase in labor costs have on small businesses, including area restaurants? It’s too soon to tell for sure, but there is already some evidence that the recent minimum wage hike to $11 an hour, along with the pending increase of an additional $4 an hour by 2017 for some businesses, has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs in the Seattle area. The chart above shows that the Emerald City MSA started experiencing a decline in restaurant employment around the first of the year (when the state minimum wage increased to $9.47 per hour, the highest state minimum wage in the country), and the 1,300 job loss between January and June is the largest decline over that period since 2009 during the Great Recession (data here). The loss of 1,000 restaurant jobs in May following the minimum wage increase in April was the largest one month job decline since a 1,300 drop in January 2009, again during the Great Recession. In contrast to the January-June loss  of restaurant jobs in the Seattle area: a) restaurant employment nationally increased by 130,700 jobs (and by 1.2%) during that same period (data here), b) overall employment in the Seattle MSA increased 1.2% and by 21,800 jobs (data here) and c) non-Seattle MSA restaurant employment in Washington increased 3.2% and by 2,800 jobs (data here). Read the rest of this entry »


The Worst Economic Expansion Since World War II Was Even Worse Than You Thought

obama-frown-white-background

Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007.

Eric Morath reports: The economic expansion—already the worst on record since World War II—is weaker than previously thought, according to newly revised data.

From 2012 through 2014, the economy grew at an all-too-familiar rate of 2% annually, according to three years of revised figures the Commerce Department released Thursday. That’s a 0.3 percentage point downgrade from prior estimates.

The revisions were released concurrently with the government’s first estimate of second-quarter output.

navy-getty

“While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years.”

Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007. While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years.

 BN-JP847_Revise_G_20150729124033

The latest revision, however, did significantly upgrade what was seen as a historically wretched winter of 2014.

The output reading for the first quarter of last year was recast to a 0.9% contraction instead of a 2.1% annualized drop. The prior figure represented the worst contraction on record outside of a recession. The new number isn’t even the worst quarterly contraction of the expansion. GDP declined at a 1.5% annual pace in the first quarter of 2011. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Sperry: Obama Administration Collecting Personal Data for a Secret Race Database

comp-wall

Paul Sperry writes: A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

US-SECURITY-INTELLIGENCE-OBAMA-PROTEST

“The FHFA will also pry into your personal assets and debts and whether you have any bankruptcies. The agency even wants to know the square footage and lot size of your home, as well as your interest rate.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

Obama Big brother

“FHFA will share the info with Obama’s brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which acts more like a civil-rights agency, aggressively investigating lenders for racial bias.”

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income 51PlZCT6QLL._SL250_housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

[Order Paul Sperry’s bookThe Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused the Great Recession” from Amazon.com]

Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.

So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.

Obama is presiding over the largest consolidation of personal data in US history.blinking-computer

Housing database

The granddaddy of them all is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing database, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled out earlier this month to racially balance the nation, ZIP code by ZIP code. It will map every US neighborhood by four racial groups — white, Asian, black or African-American, and Hispanic/Latino — and publish “geospatial data” pinpointing racial imbalances.

The agency proposes using nonwhite populations of 50% or higher as the threshold for classifying segregated areas.

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

Federally funded cities deemed overly segregated will be pressured to change their zoning laws to allow construction of more subsidized housing in affluent areas in the suburbs, and relocate inner-city minorities to those predominantly white areas. HUD’s maps, which use dots to show the racial distribution or density in residential areas, will be used to select affordable-housing sites.tape-recording

“The FHFA has offered no clear explanation as to why the government wants to sweep up so much sensitive information on Americans, other than stating it’s for ‘research’ and ‘policymaking.'”

HUD plans to drill down to an even more granular level, detailing the proximity of black residents to transportation sites, good schools, parks and even supermarkets. If the agency’s social engineers rule the distance between blacks and these suburban “amenities” is too far, municipalities must find ways to close the gap or forfeit federal grant money and face possible lawsuits for housing discrimination.

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Civil-rights groups will have access to the agency’s sophisticated mapping software, and will participate in city plans to re-engineer neighborhoods under new community outreach requirements.

“By opening this data to everybody, everyone in a community can weigh in,” Obama said. “If you want affordable housing nearby, now you’ll have the data you need to make your case.”

ObamaOrwell

Mortgage database

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, headed by former Congressional Black Caucus leader Mel Watt, is building its own database for racially balancing home loans. The so-called National Mortgage Database Project will compile 16 years of lending data, broken down by race, and hold everything from individual credit scores and employment records.

Mortgage contracts won’t be the only financial records vacuumed up by the database. According to federal documents, the repository will include “all credit lines,” from credit cards to student loans to car loans — anything reported to credit bureaus. This is even more information than the IRS collects.

big-brother-poster

The FHFA will also pry into your personal assets and debts and whether you have any bankruptcies. The agency even wants to know the square footage and lot size of your home, as well as your interest rate. Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: How Crony Capitalism is Slowing Global Economic Growth

money-bags

 writes: US productivity growth, at least as measured, has been in low gear for a decade. And especially so since the Great Recession, averaging just 0.6% annually from 2010 through 2014. We’re aren’t going to consistently hit 3% GDP growth, much less 4%, like that.

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Then again, productivity growth has slowed in most OECD countries over the past decade. A new OECD research note doesn’t think the problem is a lack of innovation, so much as an inability to spread innovation broadly throughout advanced economies. “A breakdown of the diffusion machine” is what the OECD calls it.

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[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The gap between high productivity firms and low productivity firms is increasing. (Maybe also helping to explain rising inequality.) So why aren’t innovations spreading as fast as they used to? The WSJ’s analysis of the paper sums it up nicely:

One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified. Read the rest of this entry »


CATO Institute: New Research on The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession

money-jar

During the last part of the previous decade, the average effective minimum wage rose by nearly 30 percent across the United States.

New research from Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither analyzes the effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery. The authors estimate that the minimum wage increases reduced the employment-to-population ratio of working age adults by 0.7 percentage points, accounting for 14 percent of the total decline. Low-skilled workers in particular were hurt by minimum wage policies, despite being the purported beneficiaries.

Read more….


Center for Immigration Studies Report: All Employment Growth Since 2000 Went to Immigrants

Thousands of immigrants marched on the US capital Washington to demand immigration reform on October 8, 2013. (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Thousands of immigrants marched on the US capital Washington to demand immigration reform on October 8, 2013. (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

According to a major new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), net employment growth in the United States since 2000 has gone entirely to immigrants, legal and illegal. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CIS scholars Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler found that there were 127,000 fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level.

The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit research institute. Founded in 1985, the organization is regularly consulted by policymakers, the academic community, and the media on matters of immigration policy.

The rapidity with which immigrants recovered from the Great Recession, as well as the fact that they held a disproportionate share of jobs relative to their share of population growth before the recession, help to explain their findings, the authors report. In addition, native-born Americans and immigrants were affected differently by the recession.

Other significant findings include:

  • Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
  • The share of natives working or looking for work, referred to as labor force participation, shows the same decline as the employment rate. In fact, labor force participation has continued to decline for working-age natives even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Investors Buying Up U.S. Golf Courses

obama-golf-sidebarFor the Los Angeles TimesE. Scott Reckard reports: Eight years ago, Du Sha cashed out his chain of home-improvement centers — the first superstores of their kind in China — with a sale to Home Depot for $100 million.

Today, with a net worth of more than $600 million, the former economics professor has taken up the conventional pastime for those with money and time: golf.

Du has bigger plans than reducing his handicap. Teaming with a Canadian golf executive, he has bankrolled Pacific Links International, which now owns 10 high-end U.S. courses, including the $20-million Dove Canyon Golf Club, in a private community abutting the Cleveland National Forest in south Orange County.

Du and other wealthy Chinese investors are quickly adding golf courses to their growing portfolios of U.S. holdings. In the last year, Chinese investors have bought prime properties including the 2,000-acre Sea Trail Golf Resort, built around three Sunset Beach, N.C., courses, along with smaller ones, such as Rancho Duarte Golf Club, a nine-hole, par-31 course built on a former dump in the San Gabriel Valley.

“We’re seeing a lot of tires getting kicked by the Chinese,” said broker Jeffrey Woolson in Carlsbad, managing director for golf and resorts at real estate services giant CBRE Group Inc. “They only recently came forward and started buying. They do love golf, so it makes sense.”

The influx is restoring the fortunes of some unprofitable clubs such as Dove Canyon, where Pacific Links has committed $6.2 million to refurbishments after buying the property last year.

The investments also mark the third wave of golf course purchases by Asian investors. Unlike the Japanese and the South Koreans before them, the Chinese are buying at the bottom of the market. But they are entering an overbuilt industry that has suffered from declining American interest in golf since well before the Great Recession drove many courses into bankruptcy.

The purchases of U.S. golf courses follow a long series of investments by wealthy Chinese in other areas — such as Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet housing project in Oakland and the AMC Theatres chain. Chinese investors also have purchased Sheraton hotels in Universal City and at Los Angeles International Airport and helped ignite such red-hot California housing markets as Arcadia and Irvine.

Major Chinese investments in U.S. businesses doubled to $14 billion last year — and added $8 billion more in the first three months this year, according to Rhodium Group, a New York economic consulting firm. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Economy Slowed to 0.1 Percent Growth Rate in Q1

Economy GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year as a harsh winter exacted a toll on business activity. The sharp slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather.

The economy’s growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent growth rate in the October-December quarter.

Consumer spending grew at a 3 percent rate. But that gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.

The scant 0.1 percent increase in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, was well below the 1.1 percent rise economists had been predicting. The last time the quarterly growth rate was so slow was in the final three months of 2012, when it was also 0.1 percent. Read the rest of this entry »


Demographic Mega-Trends and Robert Samuelson’s Denial

grid-cell-2777-1391024215-3“There is no parallel in history to the [American] experiment of free government on this scale. The scale accounts for a great deal, including . . . pessimism about the present or the future of America.”

— Scottish historian D.W. Brogan in “The American Character,” 1944

Robert Samuelson’s Op-Ed about “America’s Menacing Mega-Trends” in Sunday’s Washington Post is mostly very good — particularly at presenting the data, and identifying the problem — but perhaps not so good at solutions, and conclusions. So it’s disheartening to see a few lazy passages undermine an otherwise good article.

“…America’s future rests heavily on how these mega-trends play out. Democracy works best when the political system can mediate between the often-inconsistent demands of public opinion and larger national needs. This, America’s leaders can’t or won’t do. Faced with immutable trends, they have not adapted to change. Instead, they pander to partisans with soothing, though outdated, stereotypes. Nostalgia poses as policy when it is actually a marketing strategy.”

So far so good. But I’m not sure that today’s political elite are any better or worse at embracing change, avoiding nostalgic sales pitches, partisan pandering, or “outdated” thinking, than politicians were at any other time in our history. Why should we expect any more of politics, or politicians? Increasing dependence on government institutions, and political solutions — the infantile habit of looking to political leaders to solve our problems — is itself a problem, one that goes unmentioned here.

It’s mainly the next few paragraphs, where Samuelson oversimplifies liberals and conservatives, mischaracterizing both, giving into wrongheaded stereotypes.

CLIENTS

“Liberals won’t come to terms with aging. Believing that spending on the elderly and near-elderly constitutes the essence of progressivism — and ignoring the affluence of many elderly — some liberals even support raising these benefits. The paradoxical result is that the pro-government party has become an instrument of anti-government policies, because accommodating all the elderly’s benefits means quietly condoning deep cuts in most other programs.”

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D.C. Area has Exploded Since Kennedy Era

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Lawson Bader writes: I’m quite partial to the Potomac River. My mother crossed it on her doctor’s visits in the months leading to my birth. And while I spent my youth in freewheeling California, I knew I’d return to the changing seasons that give the region much of its character. But my, how that character has changed.

This week, reminiscences of where people were when they heard the news of the Kennedy assassination prompted me to ask: What was greater Washington, D.C., like then?

Consider where I live, Fairfax County, Virginia. In 1963, that then-sleepy burg set off on a growth surge that’s ballooned in population to more than a million people today, with new homes and shopping malls spread out across what was farmland not long ago. In fact, when I was a youngster, “going to McLean” meant driving out to the country for a picnic. Today, McLean is considered an inner suburb – albeit a fancy one.

Now, if you don’t live in the national capital area, you might wonder what this has to do with you. The answer is: everything, because you’re paying for it. As the federal government expanded its footprint beyond the District of Columbia’s borders, it’s brought a bonanza to those surrounding areas.

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Hope ‘n Change: In Many States, the Recovery is Making the Income Gap Worse

A sign showing a foreclosed home in Texas for sale in August 2006. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press.)

A sign showing a foreclosed home in Texas for sale in August 2006. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press.)

Niraj Chokshi writes:  The income gap in America has been widening for decades and the modest three-year recovery did little to change that, according to new Census data.

The new data suggest that despite modest recoveries in many states, the middle class has been shrinking while households have been added in the lowest and highest income brackets. In many states and nationally, the highest income brackets saw more growth than the lowest, but households in the middle brackets continued to decline. The state-by-state data compare incomes from a pair of three-year periods: 2007 through 2009, a span that included the Great Recession, and 2010 through 2012, a period that included the ongoing and modest recovery.

For years, the wealthiest 1 percent have amassed income more quickly than the rest. From 1979 through 2007, for example, the top 1 percent of households saw income grow by 275 percent, according to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study. Compare that to the bottom fifth of households, which saw income gains of only 18 percent over that time. Recent Nobel Prize winner for economics Robert Shiller, who is known for creating a closely tracked home-price index, last month called income inequality “the most important problem that we are facing now today.” And just last week, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, called income inequality “an extremely difficult and to my mind very worrisome problem.”

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The Luckiest Generation

Why those born in the late 1930s and 1940s are richer than those who came before — or after.

pic_giant_102413_SM_The-Luckiest-Generation

Kevin D. Williamson writes:  One of the great American assumptions — that while individuals and families may rise and fall, each generation will end up on average better off than the one that preceded it — has been the subject of much scrutiny in the past decade. Democrats and their affiliated would-be wealth redistributors have argued that the large income gains enjoyed by the highest-paid workers threaten the American dream of ever-upward generational mobility, while others have worried that the housing meltdown and the Great Recession, which inflicted serious damage on the net worths of many American families, now stand in the way of that dream. Deficit hawks, including yours truly, have long worried that the entitlement system, with its unsustainable wealth transfers from the relatively poor young to the relatively wealthy old, would eventually leave one generation — probably mine — on the hook, having paid a lifetime’s worth of payroll taxes to support a system of retirement benefits likely to fall apart before we’ve recouped what everybody keeps dishonestly insisting is an investment. It’s fashionable to hate the Baby Boomers, who are numerous and entitlement-loving, for the problem, but in fact they may be the first generation to feel the sting of the reversal.

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When Wealth Disappears

LONDON — As bad as things in Washington are — the federal government shutdown since Tuesday, the slim but real potential for a debt default, a political system that seems increasingly ungovernable — they are going to get much worse, for the United States and other advanced economies, in the years ahead.

From the end of World War II to the brief interlude of prosperity after the cold war, politicians could console themselves with the thought that rapid economic growth would eventually rescue them from short-term fiscal transgressions. The miracle of rising living standards encouraged rich countries increasingly to live beyond their means, happy in the belief that healthy returns on their real estate and investment portfolios would let them pay off debts, educate their children and pay for their medical care and retirement. This was, it seemed, the postwar generations’ collective destiny.

But the numbers no longer add up. Even before the Great Recession, rich countries were seeing their tax revenues weaken, social expenditures rise, government debts accumulate and creditors fret thanks to lower economic growth rates.

We are reaching end times for Western affluence. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Birth Rate Dips to Lowest Since 1909

abortion_on_demand_AFP

The birth rate in the United States took another dip last year, falling from 63.2 births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old in 2011 to 63.0 births in 2012. The data was compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. birth rate, which was 69.3 per 1,000 women in 2007, has declined for five consecutive years, and is now at its lowest ebb since the government started keeping the statistics in 1909. Read the rest of this entry »


These 11 universities are awful and should be closed now

The Great Recession has put a lot of people out of work and has taken a huge bite out of the value of pretty much everybody’s real property values. It bankrupted some historic companies, too, including Lehman Brothers and General Motors.             ( slideshow )

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