Searching for Good News

This is a day for incredibly lousy economic news.  The US House failed to do its part to pass a debt ceiling increase, thus starting the serious phase of negotiations (given that finance bills must start in the House).  But even worse are the GDP figures for this year, showing a terribly anemic 1.3% annualized growth in GDP for the last quarter and an incredible downward revision to the first quarter of just 0.4%.  It would take unbelievable optimism to find something good in the news today.

Actually, the is something good.  Initial unemployment claims have fallen to a seasonally adjusted 398k, continuing a rapid drop over the last month.  What on earth can we make of that?  Maybe a lot.

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Moving the Economy Forward

When the economy isn’t showing any signs of movement, you might think that economists don’t have a lot to talk about.  However, that point of view neglects one very important part of the ol’ dismal science –economists always have to make work for themselves in order to remain employed.  That gets us to some arcane debates over things most people I know think are pretty obvious.

Paul Krugman often gives us a good popular entry point into these debates, and his last column is no different.  Longtime readers will note that I have never been a fan of Krugman (putting it kindly), but I want to note that in this article he is actively promoting the handle “Depression” for our economic state.  But I want to take issue with him over three main topics:  The length of this Depression, the nature of Keynsianism, and the simple fact that my term “Managed Depression” is way cooler than his “Lesser Depression”.

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Adult Supervision

Growing up isn’t easy.  Actually, it’s very easy because every day you get a bit older whether you like it or not – it’s just not a lot of fun.

Congress, always the antonym of progress, received yesterday a stern lecture from a representative of Standard & Poors (aka Poor Standards) on just what happens when your credit rating is slashed and how it can be avoided.  It appears that they successfully obtained adult supervision before doing something very stupid, which is to say doing nothing against the 2 August default deadline.

On the same day that the Greek debt crisis appears to have been ended this might actually be a cause for celebration.  Of course, something like a big party is how everyone got into these messes in the first place, so it’ll be a quiet affair.

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The tower rises from the heart of West Seventh, defining and defying the passage of time and the lay of the community.  The Schmidt Brewery is the West End to many people because it rises like an old oak from secure roots to dominate the skyline longer than anyone can remember.  Its endurance is remarkable because it cannot be ignored yet somehow has been neglected,  too big to care for and yet too important to imagine life without.

That’s how the Fort Road Federation, through the help of the City of Saint Paul, came to acquire the property for redevelopment.  Decades of tireless work by many people, led by City Councilmember Dave Thune, has reached another turning point for this symbol of a community and its endurance.  After years of planning and haggling it has a new owner and, soon, a new use.

I toured the site as member of the Federation’s Board of Directors.  I’d like to show you one small but vital part of this great site, the Rathskeller.  It is one of the hidden jewels of Saint Paul, soon to be uncovered once again.

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