Job Loss Hits a Milestone

Of all the various measures of the economy we have at our disposal, one of the most consistent and real-time is the Unemployment Initial Claims, which comes out weekly. It’s nothing more than a measure of how many people filed for unemployment insurance in the previous week, so it’s a solid number that doesn’t come from a survey or other statistical measure.

It still has its problems, however. It’s noisy, bouncing up and down a bit each week – a problem taken care of by looking at a 4-week moving average. Initial Claims numbers also don’t tell us a thing about hiring, but rather how many lost their jobs.

It hasn’t been useful for at least two years as attention turned away from job loss to job creation that would absorb the surplus workers looking for employment. But it’s worth checking in with this handy number one more time because it has hit an important milestone – and may be as low as it will ever go.

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Cities and The Future

It has been a long week.  This repeat from 2010 goes to the physical nature of economic restructuring and where it must come from – our cities.  The recent snow disaster in Atlanta (brilliantly discussed here) is more about infrastructure not keeping up than anything else.  So what do we need?  Let’s start with the basics of what a city is for, and how it will serve us.

Cities mark the landscape across this nation and all others.  Images of the handiwork of a culture often define the people who come to inherit the space and, in turns, mark it with their own generation’s values.  Yet they are so much more than static collections of icons – they are where people come together and live their lives right now.  They are always ultimately about the connections that make them alive.

Even the bricks and mortar or glass and steel is ultimately a connection across time to what made the city what it is today.  Though it’s the stuff that makes up a city which gets photographed and noticed, they are much more than that.

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Summing it Up

Much has been happening lately, but the news is hard to digest.  For now, I’d rather stay with the economic news and summarize what I think is going on.  This post is largely a repeat from last year, but it makes a jumping-off point.  I think that the context of the news is extremely important because without it all we have is a senseless jumble of events and not a coherent understanding.

If we can’t grab what is happening around us and make it our own, how can we call ourselves a free and democratic society?  Barataria does what it can to offer a different way of looking at what is happening and relate it in story form, free of unexplained jargon.  Hopefully, this will help to make a more real and useful politics.

After a few months of big events and heavy articles, it’s time to summarize the Baratarian view on the big economic picture in one polemic and invite your comments.

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Economy Still Ahead at the Half

It’s halftime!  2013 is half over, and data for another quarter is in.  It’s time to check in on Barataria’s predictions for the year and see how things are going.

The mainstream press has already latched onto the story of a recovery that is slow but gaining strength, so this is hardly news anymore.  But exactly how and why it is strong remains important in many ways.  This is a restructuring more than a traditional recovery after a recession, so it takes a lot of time.  The foundation has to be laid before the new economy can be framed on top of it.  That foundation came through in 2012, but progress has to continue in key areas to make it possible for the jump to a new boomtime around 2017 or so.

Break out the expensive commercials and grill the burgers, we have a game!

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Inequality Becomes Intolerable

How bad has wealth inequality become in the US?  Thanks to a video that is becoming viral, a new discussion about inequality has fired up – sadly, just after our election cycle.  It takes off from work done 6 months ago by Dan Ariely and Mike Norton, first reported humbly in a simple blog.  But thanks to new graphics and explanation it’s lighting up the ‘net in a way not seen before.

As discussed previously, income and wealth inequality is the best indicator of a future slowdown in economic growth around the world.  More attention to this problem is certainly a good thing.  But the context of how this comes to be and what can be done about it remains elusive.  Let’s take a long view and see where the problem came from – and what can be done about it as we work to set up the next period of expansion that comes after the Managed Depression we are in now.

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