Saturday, September 19, 2009

#157 Wisdom of the Week--Obamanomics

Caravaggio's "Saturnus" is apropos of the the day and of the season. The Roman god of HARVEST is pictured here holding his sickle in one hand and a bag of gleanings on his right hip. And looking puffy-toga/loin-wreathed proud of himself, thank you.

President Obama--yes, he is a god--should feel proud of himself , too. Let's do the metaphor: we seem to be harvesting the fruits of his fiscal policy. By anybody's measure, our economic half-acre was devastated when he took over, and he "threw money at it." That was actually the derogatory Republican mantra over and over, but the various stimuli worked, just as I knew they would (DM #114-5). He took his Keynesian sack of seed-money and spread it "Alfred E. Newman/What, Me Worry?" style all over the fallow landscape ... and, lo, it was stimulated. A flourishment forthcometh. As Gaia's fields ... okay, I'll stop.

I have hesitated heretofore to blow the all-clear signal, and Obama's horn, though signs of recovery have been noticed even back in the second quarter. I was waiting on unemployment, destined to be a dicey thing for another year or so, according to everybody. But a glimmer of good news on that front finally came out last week. Which basically is this: we've hit bottom. Here's the headline: UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS IN 16 STATES; HOLDS STEADY IN 7 OTHERS. Can others be far behind? Let's just hope that the new hiring gets underway before that extension of unemployment benefits runs out in the next few months. (Hell, just extend them again, if we have to.)

Above all, it would be Obama's CONFIDENCE index--as it was for FDR and Clinton--that was going to lift us out of hard economic times, as I pointed out last June. The placebo-effect of having a Democrat in office doesn't hurt either. All of this would "trickle down" irresistibly. In that vein, let me just purloin the following from Eldon Mast's blog, The Good News Economist (9/17), which gathered last week's statistics on the "spike in confidence" in four important market groups:

  • The Consumer: On Wednesday the Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures consumer confidence on a daily basis, ROCKETED to its highest level in exactly one year.
  • Investors: Also on Wednesday, the Rasmussen Investor Index SPIKED to its highest level in over a year. Investor confidence is up 28 points since Jan. 1.
  • Builders: Confidence among U.S. home-builders rose in September for the third straight month. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index BOUNCED to its highest level in 16 months.
  • Small Businesses: Economic confidence among small businesses LEAPED to its highest level in 18 months in August as more owners expressed faith in U.S economic recovery. According to the latest Discover Small Business Watch, their small business index rose 7.7 points from July, reaching the highest level since February 2008.
(And does Mr. Mast exude confidence ... or what?! Look back at those verbals I emphasized. They'll positively lift you off your chair a couple of inches. Don't know Mast's politics, but I'm sure Pres. Obama would approve of his optimism.)

It was inevitable. As I pointed out in those earlier posts, lots of taxpayers' money pumped back to 300 million-plus pretty-well-behaved citizens is an unbeatable equation. My example was China--admittedly a Keynesian model by its very nature--which is the most populated and best behaved of nations. Predictably, it has weathered the Crash of '08 in fine style. We still owe them money. And--get this--they're HIRING. In a nice ironic bit of double-reverse out-sourcing, unemployed Americans are finding jobs in China they can't find here! Even if they speak only English. According to the AP last week, China's stimulus package, in the multi-billions like ours, has aloud them to expand employment opportunities in their booming economy for thousands of well-qualified U.S citizens shut out of jobs here at home.

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