April 9, 2020. New unemployment claims surged to 6.6 million today in face of the COVID-19 shut down.
The joblessness rate will remain high until July when subsidies for non-work end.
Timing is key. The study of recessions shows us that employment usually rises (mysteriously) when unemployment benefits end. The connection should be obvious, especially for millions whose unemployment is more than their previous wages. This is the case for a family member of mine who is making $600 more per month now than before he was laid off.
This is why Germany’s approach during the recession of 2008 made sense. They paid employers to keep people on payroll. This had psychological and economic benefits.
Without question, remuneration/compensation to pay bills for those who’s jobs have ended due to mandated shelter at home and mandated closures (gov’t should reimburse those it shuts down) is justified. From the employer’s standpoint, unemployment benefits act like a tax on labor in addition to wages for each employee; they essentially have to pay premium to make it worthwhile for employee to return.
Sure, workers realize the benefits are temporary and many, if they liked their jobs, will return sooner if called back. And the astute workers will save the excess unemployment payments or pay off debt; most will spend it or, worse, incur more debt. History tells us that many will delay returning to work as long as possible if they are making more by not working. And who could blame them. This can force employers to hire possibly less qualified people at a higher wage than the value they produce.
And furthermore, history also tells us that as unemployment remains high, the political response is to extend the unemployment benefits longer, further prolonging recovery; and the cycle is perpetuated.
On the macro-economic level and policy level, this is why we need incentives to become a nation of producers and savers, rather than spender and debtors. From a tax policy perspective, we must stop punishing savings and investment and create incentives to save and proper disincentives for debt. This includes a “debt brake” for the federal government like they have in Switzerland.
“Economics studies human choice under scarcity. Humans must act in the present to provide for the future. Informed choice relies on market data in the form of prices—specific prices for specific things, as we assess various different means to satisfy our ends—that is what economics is about.
Macro-statistics such as GDP and CPI, whether they are rising or falling in the aggregate, do not help much with this vital task. These statistics are compilations of vast amounts of data to come up with averages across entire countries and time-periods. It’s a dilution of the data, not an enhancement.
” “What a country wants to make it richer, is never consumption, but production. Where there is the latter, we may be sure that there is no want of the former,” said John Stuart Mill, citingSay’s law.
In a tune of rapid change and disruption, weneedprices to do their job more than ever so the entrepreneurial process can work. High prices show which industries to move more resources into, and low prices show which ones to move resources out of to free them up for more urgent uses. From the point of view of consumers, high prices show us what we should cut back on, and low prices show where we can pick up bargains.
This process takes time. Interfering with this process just locks in shortages and surpluses. So-called “stimulus,” just thrown at “the economy” to increase “aggregate demand” in the abstract, cannot work, when there are supply constraints in some industries and prohibitions in others.
Government policy should be on mending holes in the social safety net, compensating those it has forced out of business and jobs, and reducing the tax and regulatory burden it places on businesses, workers and consumers as they try to adjust.
These are all microeconomic responses to relieve suffering and remove impediments.”
“Little more than a decade after consumers binged on inexpensive mortgages that helped bring on a global financial crisis, a new debt surge — this time by major corporations — threatens to unleash fresh turmoil.
The root cause of the debt boom is the decision by the Federal Reserve and other key central banks to cut interest rates to zero in the wake of the financial crisis and to hold them at historic lows for years.“
“…it’s telling to see how Sanders’ campaign responded to the allegation that the Vermont socialist is not putting his money where his mouth is.
In astatement, Shakir stressed that Sanders’ campaign “offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports.”
Exactly! If Sanders’ campaign can find a sufficient number of employees willing to work for $10 an hour or $12 an hour, that’s fine. No one is being coerced to work for him, and he’s paying what the market for field workers allows.
Sanders the politician likes to criticize other employers for doing exactly what he’s doing.
“Americans should not be subsidizing the richest family in America and Walmart workers should not be living in poverty,” Sanderstweetedlast month, castigating the big box retailer for not paying all workers $15 per hour. “Walmart’s greed has got to end,” he added.
But Sanders the employer surely knows that paying field workers $12 an hour instead of $15 per hour will allow his campaign to hire more field workers. He’s not employing those people because it makes him feel good to do it, and he’s not paying less than $15 per hour because he’s a skinflint multi-millionaire who is too greedy to care about workers. He’s employing them to help him succeed in ahighly competitive arena where small margins can make a big difference.
When theproblemswith a government mandated minimum wageare so obvious that even a socialist’s campaign can’t help but acknowledge them, it should probably make you wonder if Sanders the politician is being willfully ignorant about one of his centerpiece proposals.
As we continue to examine the outcomes of socioeconomic initiatives throughout our history, it becomes apparent that society’s benefits are not necessarily derived from good policies as much as from the absence of bad ones.
From a microeconomic perspective, there is some genuine disruption for affected federal bureaucrats, even if they eventually will get full – and lavish – compensation for their involuntary vacations. And some federal contractors are being hit as well.
There’s also a debate about the macroeconomic impact, with some making the Keynesian argument that government spending is somehow a stimulant for the economy.
In this interview, I tried to make a more nuanced point, explaining that we should focus more on gross domestic income (GDI), which measures how we earn our national income, rather than gross domestic product (GDP), which measures how we allocate national income.
Harold Furchtgott-Roth, in a column for the Wall Street Journal, analyzes the potential macroeconomic consequences of the shutdown.
Does the U.S. government shutdown endanger economic growth? It has led to missed paychecks… Yet these employees represent approximately 0.5% of all American workers… The effect of the furloughs on gross domestic product is likely small. …U.S. GDP is more than $20 trillion annually, or approximately $55 billion daily. The daily compensation of furloughed federal workers is about $52.5 million, or less than 0.1% of GDP.
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