The Dow may be back over 14,000, but the troubles of the unemployed are far from over. Although the official unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7%, the lowest level in several years, many of those back at work are working for far less than before. Meanwhile, the states and the federal government are enacting new unemployment insurance eligibility restrictions and directly cutting benefit amounts.
During the last presidential elections in the United States, the American people resoundingly rejected the proposal of an economic policy aimed at taking the breath out of a recovering economy through fiscal contraction. Of course the politicians never take the people’s views seriously. The same strategy has been brought to the table, but this time it’s no longer a proposition, it’s rather an imposition. That’s what sequestration accomplishes. As recent data indicate, the U.S. economy was beginning to register signs of positive effects of the stimulus packages implemented during the recession — rising housing prices, improving investor and consumer confidence and private spending, and, of course, strong gains by financial conglomerates. Those positive developments are, to a large extent, a result of the use of expansionary fiscal policy and monetary policy to support domestic demand.
We are writing from Germany, where we just finished participating in a highly enlightening conference in Berlin titled Transatlantic Agenda for Shared Prosperity. The conference was co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO from the U.S. side of the Atlantic, and the Macroeconomic Policy Institute and Friedrich Ebert Foundation from the German side.
The basic theme of the conference was how to advance viable alternatives to the austerity agenda that is presently consuming both the U.S. economy, and even more destructively, the Eurozone economies, including Germany. The full program for the one-day conference is here. Among the Eurozone economies, Germany has fared relatively well. Of course, this is all relative, since other Eurozone economies, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, are in severe recessions.
In the first week of March, the Dow Jones broke a record. No, I don’t mean that it reached its highest point since the stock market took a pummeling by the economic crisis. The Dow hit its highest level – ever. You may be scratching your head. Isn’t the unemployment rate still hovering just under 8 percent? Isn’t Congress deadlocked over how to reduce the deficit because there’s no money out there?
Building on a successful world tour of many of the world’s biggest markets, Robin Hood finally arrived in Washington the last week of February.
That’s the same Robin Hood, disguised as European Union Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta (cape well hidden) who offered a message of hope and action for nations still struggling with a global economic source.
Need revenue? Go to the source. That would be the banksters and the casino gamblers whose reckless adventurism plunged nations into economic gloom. Semesta used more delicate language, he is, after all, a tax commissioner: “The financial sector is under taxed compared to other sectors,” said Semesta in a Washington speech February 25.