It’s morning in America

Posted: February 3, 2012 by alephnaughty in Economics, Important, Politics, Very important
Tags: , , , ,

US economy grows 243,000 jobs in the month of January. In other news, Obama is looking to be a safer bet for re-election everyday.

Addendum: I should explain what I think is happening. In part two of my series on the jobs crisis, I said that too-high (cyclical) unemployment is due to interest rates being too high. To be more precise, there is a so-called “natural” rate of interest, which is the interest rate that would equate planned savings and planned investment, keeping aggregate demand on target. Aggregate demand management involves moving the market rate of interest to keep up with movements in the natural rate of interest. The Fed has been keeping its policy rate near zero since late 2008, so why is the (cyclical) employment situation improving? My view is that the natural rate of interest is rising, which effectively makes the Fed’s unchanged stance more expansionary than it was previously.

Why is the natural rate of interest rising? Well, folks haven’t been spending a whole lot (hence weak aggregate demand). Consumer durables (e.g., cars) only work for so long. At some point, you cannot delay that new car purchase any longer, so, you have to borrow more (more planned investment) and consume more (less planned savings). Together, that makes for a higher natural rate of interest. In other words, when a recession hits, consumers delay a lot of discretionary purchases until they’re more comfortable with their financial circumstances, but you can only delay such purchases for so long. This crisis has been going on so long, and Americans are sufficiently impatient, that they’re starting to go ahead with those purchases anyway. And that means that the Fed is effectively stimulating aggregate demand more than it was before, even if its interest rate policy is effectively the same (though they have been dragging out the first projected rate hike for some time, so that probably helps, too). If enough people begin to replenish their consumer durables, a self-sustaining recovery may be underway, as long as the Fed doesn’t prematurely strangle it. Hence, it’s morning in America…I think. (Buy stocks, sell bonds).

P.S. Matt Yglesias agrees with me to an eery extent. In fairness I generally see things the same way he does…

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