We now understand exactly why Obama gave such a listless performance last night. He knew the jobs report would be abysmal.
And abysmal it is. Anemic payroll growth of 96,000, along with downward revisions of the July numbers. The unemployment rate declined-but only because labor force participation fell to its lowest level in 31 years.
And like clockwork, the administration trotted out its Chief of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, to say it was “important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”
That is truly comical. Krueger has been saying that every month. I figured he would say it again, so I Googled “Krueger one monthly jobs report” and bingo, up came that link.
Not too predictable. But too pathetic. This pointillism-trying to discredit each single jobs report as not particularly informative-rings quite hollow when each successive jobs report is anemic. Individually-yes, probably not important. Collectively: damning. I wonder how Krueger maintains his self-respect. But I guess you have to check that at the door when you take that job in troubled times.
So I guess Recovery Summer will have to wait until 2013, having failed to appear in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Given this report, Obama’s speech looks even more Hooveresque (“Prosperity is around the corner”) than it did when I made the comparison yesterday afternoon:
President Barack Obama portrayed himself as a stout defender of the middle class and a leader with a plan to create jobs across the U.S. economy in a speech Thursday accepting the Democratic nomination for re-election.
. . . .
“I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country,” Mr. Obama said. He cited ambitions to create manufacturing jobs, slow the growth of college tuition and bolster trade. He called them “real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation.”
“That’s what we can do in the next four years,” he said.
Mañana, mañana. Always mañana. Just renew his contract, and voila!, jobs will magically appear. Yeah, hasn’t worked out so well the last four. But just wait! He has ambitions! Real, achievable plans! Promises trump performance!
Slow Joe did Hoover one better. He claimed that the corner has actually been turned:
“America has turned the corner,” Vice President Joe Biden said, taking the stage before Mr. Obama. He added: “The work of recovery is not yet complete, but we are on our way.”
Thanks, Joe, for helping build the meme! I will gladly acknowledge you did build that!
The disconnect between rhetoric and reality, promise and performance, is plainly obvious. Hoover, contrary to decades of political propaganda, was no free marketer: he was an interventionist who contributed to impeding recovery in the 1930s, although the Fed was the main culprit in turning a deep recession into an enduring Depression. Obama is another interventionist, and although the Fed arguably staved off a depression, this interventionism has impeded a recovery similar to those following earlier deep recessions, including those caused by financial crises.
Hopefully Obama’s political fate will mirror Hoover’s as well. And also hopefully, Romney will not be the hyper-interventionist that Roosevelt was, for the New Deal also extended and deepened the Depression. Not that I have high hopes, either on the outcome of the election or for economic policy even in the event of a Romney victory. An Obama defeat is a necessary but not sufficient condition for economic health in both the short and the longer term. This jobs report makes that defeat more likely, especially in light of the yawning gap between glittering promises and lackluster (I am feeling generous) performance. More likely, but not inevitable.