What a difference 0.1 percentage point makes

Business Times - 11 Aug 2009

What a difference 0.1 percentage point makes


KEEPING score in Washington, not unlike on Wall Street, is possible only if we recognise that 'winning' or 'losing' in political battle as in financial combat reflects one's success - or lack of - in beating the expectations game, in doing better than expected by the experts who compose the conventional wisdom.

So after economists had predicted that the July unemployment rate would be 0.1 or 0.2 of a percentage point higher than June's 9.5 per cent, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that unemployment fell to 9.4 per cent, the Obama administration seized on the news to produce a spin that made it look as though the White House's efforts to end the economic recession were making a real difference.

President Barack Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters that the new unemployment report was 'more evidence that we have pulled back from the edge and away from the brink of a depression', adding that the pace of job loss was 'declining and that's positive, but no one loses sight of the fact that last month, a quarter million people lost their jobs'.

And Mr Gibbs stressed - call it a pre-emptive action in the game of expectations - that Mr Obama still expected the jobless rate to hit 10 per cent later this year.

So, if the jobless rate does enter into double-digit territory before the end of the year, the numbers would be seen as corresponding with the strategy set by the White House.

And if the jobless rate continues to fall? Well, in that case, the better-than-expected figures would be spun once again as another win on the road to economic recovery by the Obama administration.

To be fair to the Obama spin meisters, one should acknowledge that if the July unemployment figure were higher by, say, half a point - that is, worse than expected - Mr Obama's Republican critics on Capitol Hill would have been savaging the administration's policies, arguing over and over again that the administration's expansionary fiscal and monetary policies had failed to revive the economy.

They would then have argued that, given this failure, Congress should not approve the president's ambitious healthcare and energy programmes.

Indeed, coupled with other indications that the economic recovery was on the way - including expectation for GDP growth in the third quarter, rising consumer confidence, and a re-energised stock market - the fact that the traditionally lagging indicator of unemployment was not lagging last month - in fact, the 0.1-point figure marked the first decrease in unemployment in 15 months - was certainly a piece of good news for the Obama administration and, on another level, for the entire economy.

But trying to interpret the unemployment figures is a classic example of one of those glass-is-half-full versus the glass-is-half-empty competing analyses.

Since the beginning of the recession, 6.7 million jobs have been lost and 14.5 million Americans remain unemployed, a figure that suggests that the economic downturn is not over.

Moreover, one reason that the unemployment figure is lower has to do with the fact that some Americans have stopped looking for full-time jobs. Hence, the broadest measure of unemployment (a figure that includes also those who are underemployed and those who are being discouraged from looking for jobs) remained high in July, hitting 16.3 per cent. Yet, even that figure was down from 16.5 per cent in June.

And the new US Bureau of Labor Statistics report also pointed out that hourly wages rose to US$18.56 in July after remaining stagnant earlier in the year.

Overall, employers cut fewer jobs last month - the auto sector and the leisure and hospitality industry even showed a slight increase - while payrolls cuts slowed in some industries.

All told, the pace of jobs lost is slowing down, suggesting that the slowdown in the economy is, well, slowing down.

But the expectation is that as the economy improves and more of the underemployed or those discouraged from looking for jobs start looking for full-time employment - new entrants into the job market - the official rate of unemployment could actually increase.

And this will play into the hands of the Republicans in Congress and other critics who will argue that the administration's stimulus package has failed to create the new jobs promised by the White House, in addition to being a drag on the economy.

Now, you know what to expect.

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said…
Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men.

Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings.
The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad.

Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.
The masculinization of women experienced in the last few decades should cause despondancy and desperation:::It illustrates the deterioration of mankind's collective favor and is a clue the Gods are preparing for some event.

Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.

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