Free Markets, Free People
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
The Pending Home Sales Index fell 5.5% to 95.5. Unexpectedly, of course. This indicates coming weakness in May and June home sales.
Despite low rates, mortgage applications fell -1.3%, with purchase applications down -0.6%, and refinance applications down -1.5%.
In retail sales, Redbook’s year-over-year same store sales increase of 3.2% still leaves May sales down -0.9% from April. ICSC-Goldman reports store sales fell -0.5% for the week, with year-over-year store sales up 2.9%. This is better than Redbook, but still not good.
Investors Business Daily saves you the trouble. Of the past 10 recoveries since WWII, this recovery rates dead last.
Employment: By this point, the average job growth in the past 10 recoveries was 6.9%. Under Obama, jobs have grown by just 1.9%, according to data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.
Had the current recovery kept pace with just the average recovery over the past 60 years, there would be 6.5 million more people with jobs today, and the unemployment rate would be below 7%, instead of above 8%. That assumes several million more Americans would have joined the workforce. If the current anemic labor force were unchanged, those 6.5 million jobs would drive unemployment to 4%.
Just as importantly:
GDP growth: The Obama recovery has also performed far worse than average when it comes to GDP growth. After 11 quarters, the economy is still only 6.8% bigger than it was when the recession ended. In contrast, GDP was 16% bigger, on average, by this point in the previous 10 recoveries, the Minneapolis Fed data show.
The current recovery is so slow, in fact, that it just barely beats GDP growth 11 quarters after the 1980 recession ended — even though there was the intervening long and painful 1981-82 recession. And unless GDP shoots up in Q2, the current recovery will soon be the absolute worst since the Great Depression.
Had the Obama recovery tracked the average GDP growth in the 10 previous recoveries, the economy would be almost $1.2 trillion bigger today.
Remember, we’re just talking average here. If this recovery were a average recovery, we’d see the numbers IBD is talking about. Instead, this recovery is well below average. In fact, it defines the bottom.
Incomes: By the third year of the past five recoveries, real median household incomes climbed an average 2.8%, according to the Census Bureau, which only has household income data back to 1967.
But in the current recovery, real household incomes dropped 5.4% during the recovery, according to Sentier Research, which compiles a monthly household income index using Census data.
"Unlike previous recoveries, we actually saw household incomes drop faster during the recovery than they did during the recession itself," said Gordon Green, who co-founded Sentier.
Again, extraordinarily poor performance.
And, to the claim that Obama has spent less than any other recent president (a laugher if ever there was one and factually wrong), lets examine the actual record on deficits and national debt:
Deficits: The current recovery also doesn’t stack up well when it comes to annual federal deficits. By this point in previous recoveries, deficits were running an average 2.2% of GDP. This year, they’re expected to be 7.6%, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Here’s another way to look at it: If the deficit-to-GDP ratio matched the average of the previous recoveries, it would be around $341 billion, instead of $1.2 trillion.
National debt: Although Obama claims that he’s cleaning up after the "wild debts" Republicans ran up, the national debt has climbed much faster during Obama’s economic recovery than the typical recovery in the past.
On average, federal debt climbed 9.5% in the first three years of those recoveries, after adjusting for inflation. Under Obama, debt has climbed $4 trillion since the recovery started, a 28% increase in real terms.
Which brings us to the Obama excuses for this poor performance:
Obama routinely blames the deep recession. The problem is that, historically, the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery has been.
Others have argued that recoveries from financial crises produce sluggish recoveries. However, a paper published by the Atlanta Fed concluded that U.S. history provides "no support" for linking the current mediocre recovery "with the financial crisis of 2007—2008."
And there are those who argue that the stimulus was insufficient. But that’s hard to believe, too, since spending has averaged more than 24% of GDP over the past three years, and deficits averaged 9.3% — higher levels than at any time since World War II.
Obama most recently has argued that Republicans are thwarting the recovery.
"We’ve got too many of my dear Republican friends in Congress that have been standing in the way of some steps that we could take that would make a difference at the moment," Obama said last week.
But Obama got everything he wanted in terms of economic policy his first two years in office, when he had solid Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, including a massive stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, mortgage aid, Wall Street reform, ObamaCare and so on.
The arguments simply have no factual support. They’re political excuses; the usual attempt at blame shifting for which this president is so famous.
In fact, his record in this recovery is abysmal. Yet he’s asking for another 4 years, one assumes, to try to fix what he’s royally screwed up.
These should be the facts and figures the Romney campaign uses constantly. And with that, they should also point out the mess a President Romney will “inherit” from the current occupant of the White House.
Climate change skeptics have “the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity”
Shocking I know. In fact the findings are exactly the opposite of what those doing the study expected to find (via Nature.com):
As respondents’ science-literacy scores increased, concern with climate change decreased (r=−0.05, P=0.05). There was also a negative correlation between numeracy and climate change risk (r=−0.09, P<0.01). The differences were small, but nevertheless inconsistent with SCT, which predicts effects with the opposite signs.
Contrary to SCT predictions, higher degrees of science literacy and numeracy are associated with a small decrease in the perceived seriousness of climate change risks.
Or to simplify, the difference between the believing herd and thinking individualists.
Speaking of the herd vs individualists, that takes us to the second claim:
If cultural cognition is merely a heuristic substitute for scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning, reliance on it should be lowest among those individuals whose scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning capacity are highest. SCT thus implies that as science literacy and numeracy increase, the scepticism over climate change associated with a hierarchical individualistic world-view should lessen and the gap between people with hierarchical individualistic world-views and those with egalitarian communitarian ones should diminish.
Among egalitarian communitarians, science literacy and numeracy (as reflected in the composite scale Science literacy/numeracy) showed a small positive correlation with concern about climate change risks (r=0.08, P=0.03). In contrast, among hierarchical individualists, Science literacy/numeracy is negatively correlated with concern (r=−0.12, P=0.03). Hence, polarization actually becomes larger, not smaller, as science literacy and numeracy increase.
Contrary to SCT’s predictions, highly science-literate and numerate hierarchical individualists are more sceptical, not less, of climate change risks.
These results won’t slow down the alarmists or stop them from calling skeptics scientifically illiterate. But it will allow skeptics to laugh in their face when they do.
Another in a long line of alarmist myths about AGW put to death by …. science.
It is a good question. My guess, given the way I’ve watched the subject treated over the years, those who try would be labeled racists. The reason? Watch the video: