News & Announcements Archive

Closing the Fire Station, to Motivate Less Smoking in Bed

In the spring of 2009, amid the darkest moments of the Great Recession, I published a book and a blogpost. The book, reviewed here, championed the notion that mainstream macroeconomic thinking failed to appreciate, for good and ill, the central role that finance plays in capitalist economies.

What Do GDP Figures Show?

The United States, unlike many countries, releases its GDP figures as annual rates. That makes no sense now, when there are clearly forces at work that will not continue for quarters to come. It makes more sense to say the economy contracted 9.0% in the second quarter and expanded 7.1% in the third quarter.

The Jobs That Are Not Back

Friday’s employment report indicates almost half of the jobs that vanished in the Pandemic have been recovered.. But there are some industries where there has been hardly any recovery – and those are mostly businesses that will not come back completely until there is a widespread belief that COVID-19 is no longer a threat to what used to be considered normal activities.

Will the economy get worse?

Source: The Conference Board Remember the sunny forecasts when the Pandemic began? This was to be a brief recession, followed by a “V” shaped recovery. You could see that forecast in the consumer confidence numbers released each month by the Conference Board. The overall index is made up of two elements – present situation and […]

The Worst Recession On Record, By One Measure

It is tempting to look at the continued recovery of the labor market in July and be encouraged – even if there are indications that August may see a reversal. The unemployment rate of 10.2% is not only well below the peak of 14.7% reached in April, but it is now below the previous post-war […]

Squeezing States and Cities

One number stands out in today’s estimate of second quarter GDP, and it isn’t the overall real GDP decline of 32.9%, on an annualized basis, even though the headlines will focus on that figure. Instead, it is the much smaller decline of 8.2% in the nominal GDP for state and local government spending. That is […]

How’s President Trump doing on the economy?

The new Quinnipiac Poll, released Wednesday, finds that – for the first time this year – more people disapprove than approve of the way President Trump is handling the economy. Before the pandemic racked the economy, President Trump had expected the economy would be the basis of his re-election campaign – as he took credit […]

Will Older Workers Stay Home?

Many older Americans reacted to the financial crisis of 2008 by deciding not to retire. Some who had retired went back to work if they could do so. And that trend continued for the next decade. Now the question is whether that trend is over – another victim of the pandemic. The proportion of people […]

Inside Baseball

Seasonal adjustment is one of the more obscure potential casualties of the pandemic recession. A well known problem with seasonal adjustment is that an outlier observation will lead the seasonal adjustment process to shift its belief about what is normal for that month. In cases like the coronavirus recession, this is undesirable because the unusual […]

A Lost Four Years, But Better Than Hoover

The United States may be on the verge of an unfortunate accomplishment rarely reached in the last century: a presidential four-year term in which real per capita GDP was lower when the term ended than when it began. The International Monetary Fund estimated this week that the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the United […]

A Tale of Two Sectors

The private sector added jobs in May almost everywhere in the United States. The public sector lost jobs, also almost everywhere. Those two trends seem likely to persist in the months to come, as states continue to allow more businesses to reopen – and as state and local governments see tax revenues remain at depressed […]

538 survey of macroeconomists

The 538 webpage, part of ABC news and originally set up by Nate Silver, has just done a survey of academic macroeconomic forecasters about the coronavirus recession. Allan Timmermann at UC San Diego and I helped them with this and the results were released this afternoon. The results point to a deep recession with a […]