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Michael Maiello's picture

NItpicking Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson wrote a Newsweek cover story called "Hit the Road, Barack" and now seems surprised that people are picking over the carcass.  This is, of course, ridiculous.  Newsweek editor Tina Brown very often chooses stories specifically to inspire reaction.  There's nothing wrong with that, from where I stand.  It's okay to be provocative on purpose.  Though this one seems as half baked as when Forbes, my alma mater, published Dinesh D'Souza's musings on Barack Obama's Kenyan socialism.

No doubt, Ferguson would bristle at that comparison, were he to notice it.  He has now defended himself against his critics by calling them nitpickers who are ignoring his larger argument, which is that Obama has failed to deliver economically.  If you want to see the very significant nits being picked, this Center for Economic and Policy Research piece gathers them, though Paul Krugman and Brad Delong deserve credit for being early and convincing debunkers.

Still, as a big argument kind of guy, I sympathize with Ferguson.  Sometimes the thesis can be valid even while some important details are wrong.  In this case, I'm especially open to hearing him out, given that we lefties have been some of the most critical people about Obama's handling of the economy.

None of us are happy with current unemployment.  That's Ferguson's big bullet.  Even giving the Obama administration some forgiveness for underestimating the extent of the recession, it has failed to restore anything like full employment during Obama's first term.

Fair criticism.  However... when Obama said that the private sector was "doing fine," it should not have been considered a gaffe.  If you eliminate the public sector from GDP, the private sector is growing... pretty robustly!  It's not awesome, but also not bad.  We're talking 2.5-3% growth for private sector GDP.  And, the private sector has been adding jobs, month by month, since early 2010.  And, the stock market has more than doubled since its January 2009 lows (right before Obama took office, the S&P 500 was at 666).  Also, public company corporate profits are at record levels.  Also, public company balance sheets are flush with cash.  Also, the credit markets that were frozen in 2008 and early 2009 are quite open now, with big companies finding easy access to the credit markets to push out maturities and lower borrowing costs.  There's a lot of good things going on for business.

But, there are a lot of bad things going on with cash strapped states and cities.  They are firing people.  They are firing so many people that they are drowning out private sector job creation and so, unemployment remains high.  Worse, since these public sector jobs pay decently and offer good benefits, their absence is felt acutely throughout the economy and it retards private sector growth.

The issue here is that Obama failed to achieve a large enough stimulus, focused on state and local aid.  But... not exactly the president's fault, right?  I'm sorry but, if you ask the data, the private sector is growing at the kind of post-recession pace you might expect.  The biggest problem that Obama had to deal with was that Republicans, and some Democrats, went deficit hawk too early.  This is the kind of criticism that Ferguson might dismiss as unproven and partisan.  But, we are where we are.  Public sector employment is down so much that even robust private sector employment growth is muted by it, if not negated.  That seems to suggest a problem of inadequate public spending, doesn't it?

And... were public spending adequate and all of those unemployed put back to work at decent wages and with dependable benefits, the economy might well boom.  Not only does every gainfully employed person have spending power but, they are no longer reliant on either the government or friends or family in order to make ends meet.  Every person put back to work, in a public or private job, not only relieves the government of a burden, but they given spending power to their friends and neighbors as well.  A virtuous cycle can result.

Obama failed to get a large enough, and well targeted enough, stimulus.  Some of that is his fault. but the criticisms that Ferguson lays at his feet are kind of silly.  The deficit fixation that suddenly gripped Republicans (after years of dealing with deficits that "don't matter" under George W. Bush) seems political and the Democrats that joined them seem, at best, misinformed.  I'll gladly criticize Obama for not fighting back on that front, and even for trying to compromise with the insane, but that is not Ferguson's argument at all.

Here is Ferguson:

In my view, he has not only failed to live up to the high expectations of those who voted for him, but also to the pledges he made in his inaugural address. (In order to be fair, I deliberately did not judge his performance against his campaign pledges.) The economy has performed less well than the White House led us to expect, despite a bigger increase in national debt than it led us to expect.

This is hard to disagree with. I surely expected that circumstances would be far batter now than I'd have guessed in 2009.  I had no deficit or debt expectations and didn't frankly care.  Just 9 years before, I'd been told that we were running surpluses so extreme that we'd be eating into the debt by now.  But, again... whatever.  Debt or surplus, I only care about rising living standards.  I'd see no value in a surplus economy where people's lives didn't improve over time.

And, yes... Obama has failed to reverse decades of momentum pushing wealth towards the few while the masses struggle.  This is a major problem, one that I think Obama acknowledges, but it is not very important to Ferguson.

So, what is Ferguson's complaint?  If it's that the huge economic gains since 2009 have not been fairly shared, that'd be interesting.  If it's that those at the top haven't gained enough, that's absurd, since they have gained most from the crisis recovery.

Judging by his article, his complaint is that the recovery has been more tepid than Obama promised and that too few of us have shared in what has gone right.  So I have to wonder how Romney and Ryan, who Ferguson now supports, are going to fix that.

Ferguson notes the upcoming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts an spending cuts that could cost us more that 4% of GDP.  Without balanced budget demands from Republicans (and some Democrats) in the midst of a severe recession, the fiscal cliff would not exist.  Heck, Obama only agreed to the cuts and expirations because his opponents threatened to default of the entire national debt of the United States, an action that would, by the way, have more severe effects outside of the U.S. than within.

Obama is blamed, in the end, for not being magic.  He was unable to persuade people who would rather see him fail than succeed, to do what was right.  I think we all kind of agree on that.

But, to Ferguson's point, I have not seen any math that proves that pivoting towards debt service would actually improve people's lives.  Obama has made some mistakes.  But Ferguson failed to explain how Romney and Ryan would fix them.  As for his complaints about his critics...

...he should be more honest.  That his voice is louder than so many others is proof enough that the world is unfair and that meritocracy is a myth.

If Ferguson is willing to tell the Republican House to hit the road in favor of a Democratic House, and also argue for a veto-proof Democratic Senate that will require several Republican senators to hit the road, I would be more than happy to trade him Barack Obama.

Obama is blamed, in the end, for not being magic.

We'll never know what Barack Obama could have achieved, I suppose, if he was a stronger and more confident progressive leader, with a more ambitious sense of purpose and a different reading of history, and a willingness to accept risks, seek "drama" and lead a progressive crusade rather than administer a historically insignificant caretaker government..

But I believe the greatest chance in three generations for major progressive advancement toward a more equal, prosperous and democratic society was lost because we had an obsequious hack and mediocre thumbsucker in office when neoliberal capitalism crashed and burned.

I'm tired of choosing between an economically conservative party and an economically reactionary party.  I'm telling every young person I talk to that they need to form a new political party based on principles of equality, democracy, social justice, solidarity and cooperation.  I feel so ashamed of the depraved and dysfunctional culture of greed, exploitation and atomized individualism and spiritual emptiness we have bequeathed to them.  It's rotten to the core.   They need to blow it up and start over.

I'll vote for Obama to save the country from the forces of deep evil and keep it in the hands of the forces of mere mediocrity and failure, but I'm looking for a new party.

I think there's many who feel this way. Other liberals will tell us he did the best that was possible, we'll never know because he didn't try. Now he claims he'll change. Just read an article recently quoting an Obama re-election team member. Said they were going to keep 150 of the best campaign workers on paid staff after the election and keep offices open in each state to work as activists to motivate and network people to build up public support to pass Obama's legislation. Didn't they have an even stronger network 4 years ago? And didn't they shut it down and tell all those people to go home? /sigh

Well maybe he'll do it this time. Maybe he's learned that he's not going to be the great mediator. Maybe he's realized the republicans are going to fight him all the way and the only chance he has is to fight back, to fight for what he believes in. If he actually believes in anything.

I hope so because I agree with everything you posted up to the last line. "I'm looking for a new party." You simply can't jump from nothing to running a presidential campaign. You have to work locally and get mayors and state legislators, then members in the house and senate first. Its going to take years of work to get to the presidential level, if it gets there at all. It just won't work form a party and run for president. All you'll do is elect a republican. We tried that with the greens and Nader. I worked damn hard in the 80's and 90's for the greens until Nader's 96 run. That's when I realized the only hope was to work to change the democratic party and moved to Gore in 2000.

Here's my slogan for this election. Its kinda sad. Obama in 2012, he's useless but Ronmey  Ryan is really really bad.

I'm not talking about winning any presidential campaigns initially, O-K.  I'm talking about a radical social movement.  Young people in America need one for the sake of their future and its not going to come from the Democratic Party.  But they need to harness their movement to a party early on so that as it gradually grows in power and coherence they have the expanding organization in place to start winning some elections and turning political solidarity into legislative change.

For me personally, it's just a matter of not wanting to be a member of the Democratic Party any more.  It's not just Obama.  I'm increasingly turned off by the people and dominant tendencies in the party as a whole.  I feel a yawning temperamental and ideological gap between myself and the dominant culture and opinion leaders of the Democratic Party, and even with much of the rank and file.  I feel rage and resentment at Democrats for their apologetics for the established social order, and for their unwillingness to resist systemic inequality, economic exploitation, social injustice and class stratification.  I feel especially angry at Democrats I know for eagerly and even joyfully engaging in the most shallow and intellectually dishonest forms of discourse that exist in our society - the cultivated idiocy of our election campaigns, and the endless barrage of cynical, luridly entertaining, fake reality that presents itself as a deliberative process.

Lately, I feel like a person in 1820 who has read one too many accounts of slave beatings and lynchings and who has woken up mentally to find himself immersed in a pervasive slave culture, with most of his friends, family and associates defending slavery in some guise.  And there are even slaves in my own household.  I'm drowning in it, and can't find a way out of it, but know I have to.  I believe there is something deeply evil and wrong in contemporary American culture and society, and that Democrats are part of the stink as much as Republicans.  It feels to me like a grotesque, demoralizing, inhuman, soul-rotting decadence that is suffocating, and everywhere.  The culture we have created for the next generation is profoundly sick in my view  - it's not just missing a health care statute or a tax code modification here or there.  It's ugly at a much deeper level.  I feel appalled and personally guilty for having participated in it for most of my life, and regard myself as part of the problem - but its something I am trying to escape from, and I'm looking for a path to redemption.

While I still read fairly broadly, the reading is very eclectic, and I have cut myself off almost completely from all the old flagships of the dominant liberal political, literary and media culture.  Just to give you an idea:  I have no functioning television right now and don't really care.  I don't read the NY Times or the Washington Post of Huffington Post or the Atlantic or the New Republic or the Nation - unless someone I do read happens to reference an article here or there.  I don't read any of the well-known liberal blogs.  I haven't seen a broadcast of Maddow for over two years, or whomever else they are running on MS-NBC these days.  And I certainly don't read any Republican literature.

The whole idea that I could be in a party that contains Tim Geithner, Jamie Dimon and other top corporate honchos makes me feel dirty and overcome with self-loathing.  I don't want to be in the same party as the slave-masters any longer.

So great if Obama puts together a network that is better at fighting for his legislation than he was in his first term.  But I have no reason to think that I will find his legislative agenda all that attractive.

Great movie "Europa" ("Zentropa") - the one unforgiveable sin is to not choose a side.

The difficulty for the Democratic Party is that its "left wing" is basically in a defensive crouch. That is, the most reliably left-wing members are simply trying to defend long standing liberal achievements from being dismembered: SS, Medicare, Medicaid.

That's important work, IMO, but it's backward looking. The Republicans' big advantage is that they sport the patina of "new ideas"--that is, new ways to do SS, Medicare, etc. Fortunately, most Americans reject these ideas when they truly understand what they mean.

But the Democrats--or a new left-wing party--need forward-looking ideas and a new analysis of our current situation that makes intuitive sense to voters who aren't going to take the time to delve into complex blog posts and long comments dialogues.

Interestingly, the times when I've tried to explain MMT to conservatives, really explain some of its principles at a very basic level without calling it anything, I've gotten pretty good reactions. It's thought-provoking and has some of that intuitive common sense-ness to it.

The conservation comes to an end, however, when they begin to feel that what I'm saying simply boils down to the government printing a lot of money. "Doesn't that devalue the currency?"

But I think it's the lack of an intuitively correct analysis of our current situation coupled with "common sense" prescriptions that keeps the left from making gains.

I think that's the reason we need to look to young people, Peter.  It's kind of the nature of the individualistic and insecure-by-design society in which we live that the older people get, the more their attention turns to the anxieties and hazards of old age, and to the politics of self-centered fear that is associated with the perception of threats to one's precarious life and livelihood. 

So, I don't think boomers are going to be in a position to give us a lot of new ideas.  This isn't some kind of knock on boomers.   It's just that they are going to be too busy just trying to hold on to the things they already have, and on which they will depend with increasing desperation.  When the potential for gradual impoverishment, dependency and incapacity are staring you in the face, it's pretty hard to devote much time to thinking about radical changes in society that might be achieved by, say, 2053.

My guess is that we will see the continuing evolution of the two major parties into two species of conservative, static, change-averse, risk-averse organizations, each devoted to conserving an existing social and political order, but emphasizing different aspects of that order.

And on a much smaller point ...

I haven't read one of those publications in a few years.  But I had always been under the impression that Newsweek and Time historically avoided openly endorsing presidential candidates.   Am I to understand that Newsweek just ran a cover story calling for the defeat of the incumbent president?  Haven't they crossed some sort of traditional boundary here?

Newsweek has changed,  Heck, as a writer, I took advantage.

And. Time has its issues, too.

Come the revolution, remind me to call for taking all of Tina Brown's money away and sending her to a labor camp.

Newsweek has changed only lately, like the last 6 months, I know because my greatest generation dad sends me the freebie gift subscriptions that are offered with his own Time and Newsweek subscriptions (after mebbe 30 or 40 years, they should give him something, ya think? He doesn't know who else to send it to but his daughter who likes to keep up with the news. It's sweet, but then I feel guilty that I don't always look at them every week. blush)

Anyhew, how it has changed is that it has become very blog-like, mostly op-eds, with a small news section at front, and then some Huffpo kinda culture coverage if you could call it that. They play both sides of the aisle with the blogs op-eds, in this issue with the Niall Ferguson cover there is also Lloyd Grove, "Reporter at Large" on the GOP convention this way: Welcome to Mitt's seedy coming-out party. A mobbed-up past, a surplus of strippers--Tampa's got it all.  It is pretty anti-GOP, especially raising the hypocrisy issue.

Then they have Bernard-Henri Levi screeching Stop the Slaughter in Syria Now! with an  equal number of pages and the same big photos that Ferguson got, and his title is in pretty big letters above the Newsweek banner on the cover. It is billed in the intro as "a
personal plea to the whole world" and I'd say that's pretty accurate, he seems to focus blame, if he does at all, on neighbors like Turkey, and is asking for a Libya type thing where the US does not appear to be playing the leader role.

The regular columnist thing has gone mostly gone vamoose, it is all free-lance pieces from names they think will attract. (Megan McArdle got one in this issue, on the folly of thinking we can all earn enough saving and investing 5 percent of our income for 30-40 years and then live off of it for another 25-30 years, and that--suprising coming from her--most investments are ponzi schemes and a delusion about all being able to get rich

Time hasn't gone this route, they still sort of do what they long have done, just updated for the times.

I remember reading in the New York Observer or some similar trade-oriented rag what has been going on with the two magazines the last couple of years, where Time was incredibly really healthy, healthier than most newspapers, and Newsweek was diving towards its death. For some strange reason that shocked everyone in the trade, Time got fairly popular with the younger generations the last couple years, and they were making a profit, it was like younger people were liking it to get some overall general coverage after getting all deep into certain things and not at all into others on the net, it was like after surfing to illness, the nice little Time magazine package was a refreshing alternative  or something, so succinct, so easy to read, no typing, no clicking required.. But somehow it worked out through change of management and owners, Newsweek did not at all see the same benefit and it was also considered very uncool among the new Time Magazine fans (maybe kind of like US News and World Report in the 70/'s & 80's-for the fuddy duddy demographic?)

So it looks to me like in the last 6 mos or so they are going "bloggy" in order to win some of the readers that Time got.. Thing is, though, Time didn't get them that way, they got them offering an alternative to the blogosphere.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/if-americans-start-saving-who-will-borrow/255435/

Is this the McCardle article you mean? It's very good.

Recently, I heard Nick Gillespie of Reason arguing for doing away with SS and letting folks invest the money themselves. He made the common argument that if EVERYONE starts saving conservatively in funds when they're young and reinvests their earnings, history shows they will build up a nice nest egg by the time they want to retire. Much better than SS could give you.

But this reminded me of something Michael Kinsley said back when Dub was trying to privatize SS. He said--and I think it's right--that it's mathematically impossible for everyone to make gains in the market at the same time. For all of us to march toward a profitable retirement in lock step. The historical charts showing stocks growing in value over generations depends not only on people making money, but also on many people losing money.

The reason is, almost every stock transaction involves a winner and a loser. (And you can't make money, even in a fund, unless stock transactions are happening.) This is very clearly the case in an options trade. But it's also true, I believe, in ordinary trading.

If a stock goes up after you sell it, you've lost those gains and may not make equal gains elsewhere. If it goes down, the buyer loses. And if it does nothing, then the buyer's money is doing...nothing. So he's losing because time is passing, and he's not making money. But every stock will do one of those three things.

(As an aside, when conservatives say they don't want government picking winners and losers, what they really mean is they want to ensure that there ARE winners and losers.)

So McCardle makes a similar point when she says that borrowers have to equal savers. Lenders have to equal investors. You can't have EVERYONE on the same side of the equation; otherwise, nothing will happen. There's always an equal and opposite reaction to every action. And this is true whether the economy is in balance (the ideal, perhaps) and when it's grossly out of balance.

I believe it's Minsky who said that every balanced economy moves inexorably toward imbalance. But the opposite isn't true. The economy needs exogenous help getting back into balance.

In short, everyone CAN'T save for retirement and end up with a whopping big nest egg to last the rest of their life.

 

 

Though one thing that Time did right was hiring Ana Marie Cox away from the Gawker empire to found Swampland.  I think that Time has won some good will through that part of its web site.

Dan, just FYI,

Newsweek 's cover just three weeks ago was ROMNEY: THE WIMP FACTOR: IS HE JUST TOO INSECURE TO BE PRESIDENT? BY MICHAEL TOMASKY

So I think I'd be pretty safe in saying that, no, Newseeek did not just come out and endorse a presidential candidate. And one could say that they themselves as a published entity are still not editorializing or endorsing, but they have switched from selling news and analaysis to mostly selling political, economic and social op-eds.

Matter of fact, on thinking on it, I see very little difference from the content of some of the blogs you and I and others here frequent. Within that context, I really don't get your disdain.

Actually, the quality of the writing might be somewhat better than the blogs we frequent, owing to the fact that it's more carefully edited. Still, most of the topics are the same.  It wouldn't surprise me if there was a cover I missed with Modern Monetary Theory: The New Economics or A Fad? or one entitled The New Libertarian Movement: Grownups or Children?.

I will readily admit that the current Newsweek is no Crooked Timber (last week the cover was 101 Best Places to Eat In The World Chosen by 53 of The Finest Chefs) but then on my infrequent visits, I haven't seen your name as an common participant over there. But for people who don't spend a lot of time in the blogosphere, they seem to summing up the very same "most popular" issues (even to the point of Foodie-ism seeming to be at its very peak with lots of political blogs with a foodie post mixed in here and there.)

You don't know that much about what I spend my time reading, and I'm not interested in sharing.

If Mitt Romney = Wimp is their standard fare, I'll eat my foodie elsewhere. What an inane insipid article. And to think we have real issues to discuss, yet this stupidity makes it on the cover of one of America's major weeklies, and people take it seriously enough to comment?

Maybe Newsweek should get back in the news business - USA Today and The Enquirer are kicking its butt in terms of quality investigative journalism.

A small and perhaps naive question: You say that the private sector is doing reasonably well, but the public sector is hurting and laying off people. This is my understanding, too.

The public sector is hurting, I imagine, because tax revenues are down and they can't pay salaries and pensions, etc.

Isn't the solution, then, to tax the corporations that are doing well and reside within various states, counties and towns?

I know there are plenty of conservative rejoinders to this: Corporate taxes just get passed through to consumers. Corporations move away from countries, states, and towns that tax them. Corporations already pay real estate and other kinds of tax.

Perhaps things would be different if these corporations that are doing well were also hiring people who could then pay taxes and fill public coffers.

But I guess "doing well" refers only to the balance sheet and not to the number of people being hired. "Growth" is measured by the bottom line, not by payroll. So we can have "growth" with no growth in job creation.

Henry Ford is supposed to have raised his workers' salary to $5/hour so they could afford the cars they were building. Now, there's a disconnect, because those "cars" and "TVs" aren't being made here.

But still, it would seem to me, they are being bought here (for the most part). So even if these corporations don't depend on American workers, they do depend on American consumers. Is this a fair analysis?

The virtuous cycle still exists, even if it now runs through Beijing or Hanoi. At the end of the day, someone has to buy these goods, and while the world is catching up to us as consumers, I don't think they've surpassed us as the most lucrative market. Potentially, yes, as millions of Chinese still don't have dishwashers--but not yet, because they aren't going to pay anywhere what we pay for a dishwasher.

What do you think?

To me the solution is a massive federal bailout of states and cities.  It's politically impossible but it makes sense while the government can borrow at negative real interest rates.

As for companies needing consumers... you bet they do.  But, at the same time, the biggest companies are now courting emerging middle classes elsewhere in the world and the hyper-wealthy.  The old Henry Ford idea of building a middle class here seems bygone.

True, but are those markets lucrative enough yet to replace the American market?

I think it really depends on your line of business.  Digitas, the advertising firm, did a study earlier last year claiming that it no longer makes sense to advertise most products to any but the highest end consumers.  They called it "the end of mass affluence."I think they overstated the case, but there's something to it.

Do you mean that the cost of advertising v the money made on purchases only justifies high-margin purchases, i.e., those the wealthy make?

Whether mass marketing to the hoi polloi still makes sense--and it seems to based on all the ads I see on TV and in magazines--it can't be, I don't think, that manufacturers can survive only on high-end purchases.

Maybe Rolls Royce and Patek can...but not everyone.

For one thing, most companies make high and middle and lower end merchandise. Is this stuff supposed to sell itself? How are middle income people supposed to find out about new brands of washers and dryers? Be induced to buy?

Maybe Digitas meant something other what they appear to mean...or maybe their definition of "highest end consumer" is different from what I assume it means.

Just as the EU is currently discovering that their chosen system has its flaw, I think that this economic downturn has illustrated one of the flaws of our Federalism.  Despite how much the Federal government might have added, much was being subtracted at the state level.  Krugman described this as the "50 Hoovers" syndroms back '08.

To make matters worse, our system is now almost completely polarized politically.  The problem with this is, of course, that there are more "red states" in number than there are "blue states" when we look at who is controlling state governments across America.  Given what we've witnessed, I wonder just how much impact a much larger stimulus would have had, not because I doubt the theory, but because in practice any such measures have been vehemently opposed by a number of Republican governors.

I haven't seen the numbers lately, but my earlier impression had been that if you subtract the financial sector from the private sector numbers, the private sector is not doing that well at all..  Basically, capitalist finance consists in people buying shares in the labor output of others.  The more money you have, the larger the share you are able to buy, and the bigger your free lunch.  A financial sector that is responsible for 30% of the profits in the economy has historically proven to be unsustainable: you can't have that volume of income derived from the work of others.  It's also not socially healthy or just.

I'd like to see what sectors are responsible for the private sector "growth" that is occurring. Also, what the labor share of income is as opposed to the capital share?  How is the labor share distributed?

Note that, as an extreme example, if the owners of the means of production were permitted to reduce the labor force to the condition of chattel slavery, their labor costs would decline rapidly and they could probably generate tremendous output growth and higher ROI as a result.  Aggregate growth alone is not a good measure of how well we're doing.

Financials rebounded big time, on an earnings basis in 2009 and 2010 but have since hit the skids.  They also have some of the lowest profit margins in the S&P 500.  I suspect the problem is that, in general, big companies like those in the S&P 500 are doing well while smaller non-public businesses continue to struggle.  I don't mean to argue that all is right with the world, just that Ferguson's broad critique of Obama is, at best, unfair.  Of course, if Ferguson has his way, we'd be living with a depression brought on by austerity.

Yes, none of the conservatives have any business criticizing Obama for failing to deliver jobs, since their own proposals would have given us the UK debacle, or worse.

But I think progressives should criticize Obama from a progressive perspective.

Destor, I have to say that I feel like you've given Ferguson's critics short shrift here.  Their complaints aren't nitpicking.  Ferguson straight up lied in Newsweek.  When he was called on it, his response was to basically admit it and to illustrate how he had done it in a particularly clever way.

We could try to entertain his argument further, but why should we?  Ferguson was the guy out there for the past few years putting a Serious face on the hand-wringing over invisible bond vigilantes.  That never manifested.  Neither did Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation.  Literally nothing he's said in his public escapades has been remotely correct.  Here he is just the other day on Bloomberg TV pretending he doesn't know the census exists.

The Ferguson flap has nothing to do with whether or not his critics are glossing over his broader argument.  His broader argument has been fundamentally wrong for years running now.  He has been repeatedly exposed as a liar with an agenda.

This would be fine if he weren't a professor at Harvard and Senior Fellow at Oxford and Stanford.  Instead, he's joined the ranks of people like John Cochrane and Eugene Fama who are slapping their prestigious credentials on demonstrable lies.  And he's done it over and over.  He does not even deny it in this case. Why, then, should we care about what else he has to say?

Reality check - most of the gov gains and losses were around the census. Only have up through 2011 on first graph, but still only treading water on job replacement, not expanding as yet.

But looking at #2 - why is Obama cutting public employment & services so much? Or do we blame that on the Republican Congress? Hard to do, as most of the cuts were made when Democrats controlled both houses and the White House.

Public employment is about back where it was 3 1/2 years ago (though with an additional population, still in the red).

 

Good stuff, Peracles.  The census is part of the answer.  But state and city governments are another part.  That's where we're seeing the bigger job losses and Obama doesn't actually have much control over that.  He could, of course, try to bail out the worst off states and cities, but I think we know what his critics would say about that.  Taxpayers in Nebraska don't want to pay California's bills...

Well we have passed on massive costs to the states.

But I'm confused - do these charts mean state jobs are counted as "private sector"? Otherwise, where's the additional state job loss?

Except that they already do pay the bills of other states, just not so much California's.  It's really more like New Mexico's, West Virginia's and Mississippi's.

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