economy

Fiscal Therapy

Keeping the economy strong will require addressing two distinct but related problems. Steadily rising federal debt makes it harder to grow our economy, boost our living standards, respond to wars or recessions, address social needs, and maintain our role as a global leader. At the same time, we have let critical investments lag and left many people behind even as overall prosperity has grown. 

Our latest guest, William Gale, is a leading authority on how federal tax and budget policy affects the economy, and in his latest book, Fiscal Therapy: Curing America's Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future, Gale provides a direct discussion of the challenges posed by the imbalances between spending and revenue. 

America is facing a gradual decline as debt accumulates and delay raises the costs of action. But there is hope: fiscal responsibility aligns with both conservative and liberal goals and citizens of all stripes can support the notion of making life better for our children and grandchildren.

We face significant fiscal challenges but, if we are wise enough to seize our opportunities, perhaps we can strengthen our economy, increase opportunity, reduce inequality, and build better lives for our children and grandchildren. We do not have to kill popular programs or starve government. 

As the book discusses, one main goal of fiscal reform is to maintain the vital functions that government provides. To act responsibly, pay for the government we want, and shape that government in ways that serve us best.

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

More Market Milestones and Fed Do-Overs

More Market Milestones and Fed Do-Overs

Dow 27K! S&P 500 3K! NASDAQ 8200! Just months after the bull market in stocks and the current expansion each became the longest on record, U.S. equity indexes reached more milestones last week. Sure, the economy is expanding, but you can thank one person for the recent leg up in the bull market rally: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

Longest, Not Strongest Expansion on Record

Longest, Not Strongest Expansion on Record

In a week, the U.S. economy will celebrate its longest expansion on record (or at least since records were first kept in the 1850's). As of July, there will have been 121 consecutive months of growth, surpassing the 120 months of the technology boom of the nineties. (As a frame of reference, the average expansion lasts 58 months)

Solid Jobs Report Justifies Powell’s Case

Solid Jobs Report Justifies Powell’s Case

The government reported that the economy added a better than expected 263,000 jobs in April. It was the 103rd straight month of job growth, the longest streak on record. Nearly ten years into the expansion, job creation is 205,000 for the first four months of 2019, just above the monthly amount added since the labor market bottomed out in 2010.

Inversions V2.0

Inversions V2.0

Three different producers contacted me about the following headline, which appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal: “Inverted Yield Curve Is Telling Investors What They Already Know.” You may be forgiven for that case of déjà vu, because we last discussed the inverted yield curve in December. Here’s a refresher from my post on the topic:

How America Works

The February jobs report was a mixed bag. Let’s get the bad news out of the way: the economy added only 20,000 positions, the smallest gain since September 2017. The number was much lower than last year’s average monthly amount of 223,000 and far below expectations for 190,000. 

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What explains the drop? There is no single answer, but here to help us break it down is Chip Cutter, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal who recently worked on a story called, How America Works: Inside the Hottest Job Market in Half a Century

Some possible culprits include a statistical anomaly, exaggerated by seasonal oddities that are unlikely to persist; spooked employers, who sat on their hands as growth slowed in the beginning of the year amid the government shutdown; bad weather, which hurt construction and maybe just a weird one-off, much in the same way that the huge January number may have also been an outlier. In fact, if we take the first two months of the year, job creation averaged about 165,000, an amount that would be consistent with a slowing economy in Q1.

However, there was also good news. Average hourly earnings increased by 3.4 percent from a year ago, the best annual gain in almost a decade (April 2009). Additionally, the headline unemployment rate returned to 3.8 percent, which is where it was before the government shutdown. 

Finally, the broad measure of unemployment (aka “U-6”, which includes unemployed; discouraged and marginally attached workers; and those who are working part-time, but seek full time) declined to 7.3 percent from 8.1 percent, its lowest point since December 2000. These numbers seem to indicate that the labor market may be slowing this year, but it is still relatively tight and healthy.

Have a money question? Email me here.

We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in Apple Podcasts.

"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

Connect with me at these places for all my content:

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