1) From the seventh paragraph--
"If we don't see some job growth by Thanksgiving, then the spurt in economic activity that we are currently experiencing will fade," said Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com ... [Emph. added]
How the hell does he know? And how badly does Economy.com want its name in the New York Times? Badly enough to be tempted to give Louis Uchitelle the strong, gloomy quote he obviously wants? ... The economy has been spurting without job growth for two quarters. Why can't it keep spurting for another quarter? James W. Paulsen of Wells Capital Management offers Uchitelle a much more careful assessment--"If we go into next year without job growth, then ... recovery is in danger of unwinding." No front page plug for Wells Capital! Paulsen is relegated to fifteenth paragraph, deep inside the paper.
2) The unemployment rate fell a small amount, despite the job losses. The reason, apparently, was not so much those famous "discouraged workers" as the number of people listing themselves as "self-employed." Uchitelle writes:
... the number of workers in the survey who described themselves as self-employed grew by 233,000 last month — evidence to some economists that many had lost jobs and were masking their unemployment.
"Whenever you see a spike in self-employment in this kind of economy, you know that is involuntary entrepreneurship," said Jared Bernstein, a senior labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
Isn't it possible that when people tell surveyers they are self-employed they are actually self employed? If we're entering a new economic era--one in which traditional cyclical employers won't start rehiring, as this excellent WaPo analysis suggests--isn't it likely, even, that workers will adjust by pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities? And if entrepreneurship is real, what does calling it "involuntary" mean? I might prefer to have a full-fledged "job" at Microsoft, complete with stock options, health insurance, etc. Instead, I'm a freelance contractor. Calling my entrepreneurship "involuntary" might be accurate, but it doesn't mean I'm not working and feeding myself. In the "newer" economy, you'd expect such self-employment to increase, no? ... The point isn't that all 233,000 people who said they were "self-employed" were successfully making that transition. The point is that a) Uchitelle shouldn't dismiss them as jobless victims keeping up their spirits through euphemism, and b) compared with previous business cycles, a greater share may actually be self-employed. ...
Update: Musil piles on, adding the excellent point that reluctance to hire humans and overeagerness to replace them with high-productivity technology are symptoms of ... the dreaded eurosclerosis. Do corporations see Rep. Gephardt's health insurance employer-mandate, and other job-based benefits, coming down the road? That could explain some of the reluctance to hire. Every laid-off worker you reemploy is someone you're going to have to provide various kinds of leave for, and maybe buy health insurance for. I doubt this is in any way the main factor at work--the chances of a sweeping electoral triumph by Gephardtists aren't good enough. But state level mandates--like the one proposed by California Democrats, including Cruz Bustamante--seem like a real possibility. (Better for the government to provide health care in some way not linked to employment--directly, a la Medicare, or through subsidies to individuals.) ...12:32 P.M.
Saturday, September 6, 2003
Fifteen minutes left. ...Update: Sold. Kf drove up the bidding from $255 to ... $255. 4:45 P.M.
"Bunda!"--The Hits Keep Coming: Arnold Schwarzenegger stands accused of traducing Brazilian culture in an early educational video, "Party in Rio." David Pecker, Bonnie Fuller and the LAT (but not the S.F. Chronicle) caught asleep at the switch again. ... Context and Perspective: Hey, everybody was crazy in the '70s! ... OK, OK, this was the '80s! ... Still, this video shouldn't in itself be that damaging. Yes, A.S. appears to be a obsessed with female body parts. Hint for N.O.W.: He's not alone! ... P.S.: Is this all that's out there? Surely there's more, ready to be smuggled through the apparent tabloid embargo. ... P.P.S.: Here's a newsworthy screen shot of Schwarzenegger doing his version of Alastair Cooke (from Moderate Independent, which was on the "Rio" case in July). You'd think this would be something Fuller's tabloid readers might be interested in, no? Maybe she's trying to get a job at the LAT. ... 3:25 P.M.
Friday, September 5, 2003
Hold on to your chad: The ACLU appears to have won the Ninth Circuit lottery in its bid to have the federal appellate court postpone the scheduled October 7 California recall election. The 3-judge panel on the case--Harry Pregerson, Richard Paez, and Sidney Thomas--seems both a) liberal and b) willing to make trouble . Here's an excerpt from a highly informative piece by Jason Hoppin in The Recorder:
Pregerson is the ex-Marine who recently declared that he could not, "in good conscience," go along with the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisprudence on California's Three Strikes law.
He'll be joined by judges Sidney Thomas and Richard Paez, both appointees of President Clinton. Paez's nomination languished for years after conservatives tagged him as too liberal. Thomas, a soft-spoken Montanan, proved he is just as fearless as Pregerson this week when he reversed the death sentences of more than 100 prisoners throughout the West.
P.S.: Blogger Rick Hasen had this news on Tuesday, but posted it without comment. Is Hasen inhibited because he's actually intervened in the case as an amicus (on the ACLU's side)? He might not want to annoy Pregerson, Paez, and Thomas by predicting their behavior--especially by predicting victory. Update: Hasen e-mails to say he was just busy--"between the recall and McCain-Feingold (I'm in DC now,to blog from the breaks in the oral argument), I barely have time to breathe." And Hasen does more or less predict an ACLU victory in the S.F. Chronicle, saying of a recall postponement:
"I think it's fairly likely, especially given the judges who are going to hear the case" ...