Sunday, July 11, 2010

Woes of the French Government

Here's the best English-language potboiler version of the scandal plaguing the Sarkozy presidency in France.  An equally important story are the ongoing existence of actual independent journalism - in this case, the web-based paper Mediapart - amidst the profession's clientalist servility to the powerful ones who grant it access (witness the anger of the Washington press core at the revelations of Gen. McCrystal's contempt for the civilian government that came from a relative outsider working for the Rolling Stone).

The other big story is of course the extent to which the Sarkozy government works mainly for the rich and connected.  Huge majorities are already upset enough by the absence of real economic accomplishments among contemporary governments -- Sarkozy's approval ratings have been below 50% for a year or two. They are even more infuriated by the prospect of the minister of finance, whose wife handles financial matters for Mme. Bettancourt, working to help the richest woman in France with a fortune of $17-20 billion reduce her tax burden. 

Governments look increasingly like court servants of the each country's elite, in a throwback to the medieval period. The passivity of the middle-classes in effect supports the forces that jeapordize these classes's survival.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brooks Upset By How Wrong He is, Blames Krugman

As if. You won't want to read the excruciating full-length version of David Schoolboy Brooks complaining about how the pro-stimulus prog economists are wrong even though they are turning out to be right as the recovery dies on the vine.  So cut to the commentary and various retorts. 

The only interesting thing about this is the development of the term "demand-siders" to describe Krugman, Dean Baker, and other neo-Keynesians who think that people's incomes are an important part of economies and that they should be higher rather than lower.  (This is in contrast to the "supply-siders" who came to power with Ronald Reagan, and who used the needs of suppliers, i.e. company owners and investors, as a reason to cut taxes for the high brackets.)  It suggests that the Right is no longer able to pretend that the center-left in the US has no coherent economic strategy.  This was the core of their "one church" approach to capitalism -they pretended there were no actual arguments against small government, no taxes, no public investment, etc. that needed a fair hearing. They taught a couple of generations of conservatives that all the "liberal" arguments had already been refuted, and they could be safely ignored.

That defense line has crumbled, and the next round of arguments is going to be quite different.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Another Dismal Overview

This one pulls together a lot of stats around employment.  Brace yourself.

Or just read this  summary:
Let's recap. Unemployment is high and is in reality going higher if you count those who would take a job if they could get one. Incomes are weak. Plans to purchase discretionary items are falling. Housing is likely in for a further drop in prices. The stock market is not exactly booming. Treasury yields are falling, not from a credit crisis or a flight to quality, but because of economic conditions (deflation). Money supply is flat or falling. Prices are under pressure. The list goes on, and all factors are indicative of deflation.