Our Labor Market Malaise

A lot of us were disappointed in the latest jobs report. Non-farm payrolls grew by only 54,000. By contrast, a good recovery requires growth of several hundred thousand jobs a month. But my dinner table conversations with Betsey helped me put it in perspective. (And yes, given her current job, this explains the somewhat political nature of this post.) Her comparison: Through the entire eight years of the (Dubya) Bush administration, non-farm payrolls grew by an average of only 11,000 per month. OK, the Great Recession explains some of this. But not a lot. Let’s cherry-pick the most favorable sample we can, focusing on the period through to the absolute peak in employment, which occurred in January 2008. This still yields average jobs growth of only 66,000.

What Chance of Change Is Enough?

Obama in his acceptance speech included the lines: But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? […]

Was There a ‘Bush Doctrine’?

That is the question asked by the economists Barry Eichengreen (Berkeley) and Douglas A. Irwin (Dartmouth) in an NBER working paper called “International Economic Policy: Was There a Bush Doctrine?” When it comes to foreign economic policy, their answer is an emphatic “no.” From their abstract: While many political scientists and diplomatic historians see the […]

Reflections on a Visit to the White House

I spent the morning in the White House, attending the ceremony recognizing this year’s winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gary Becker was one of the honorees, and he was kind enough to let me tag along as a member of his entourage. Becker became only the second person to win both the Nobel […]