thereisnospoon says never ascribe to malice what can be explained by ignorance and pride. Me, I’m not so charitable.
But Markos’ key critique of the Administration is well-taken. First, everything they do is almost designed to make them look craven and weak. Being accommodating is one thing; being constantly humiliated like Charlie Brown kicking a football is quite another.
And it’s not even working to attract independents. It’s terrible politics, in addition to being terrible policy.
Keep in mind that these are some of the top political professionals in the entire United States advising the Administration on these maneuvers. Which means that either they’re utterly incompetent idiots as Digby and I have repeatedly argued, or they’re paid-off corrupted tools of a grand global elitist conspiracy. Personally, I find the latter idea preposterous hogwash, a comforting opium for the sorts of people who want to believe that there are no solutions, or that the solutions are as as easy as grabbing pitchforks and guillotines and letting blood run in the streets. Yes, there’s rampant criminality–in Wall Street’s case, even an entire culture of criminality. And those criminals should be held to account. But that doesn’t mean that the entire governmental and financial apparatus–or even most of it–is run either by elite criminals or their paid-off lackeys. It just doesn’t work that way, as anyone who has actually dealt with the individual policy makers in question knows.
It’s just really hard–and frankly terrifying–for a lot of people to believe that we’re really governed by selfish, short-sighted, incompetent morons. That our lives are really and truly dominated by idiots who set their eyes on a shiny object like next quarter’s profit statements, or moving the polling dial with white female independents aged 35-65 by five points, or some other stupidity, so much that they miss the big picture, and then grab as much of the loot as possible and make the best of the situation after everything smashes to bits. That’s understandable. But if policy makers want to limit the growing number of conspiracy mavens out there, it might be advisable for them to try putting competent people in charge for a change. Otherwise, they’ll get the paranoid public attitudes toward them that they deserve.
Seems like no matter which door you peek behind, a neoliberal is behind it with a wrong answer. And when they’re called on being wrong, there’s another neoliberal waiting behind the next door with another wrong answer. In fact, there’s an endless string of stupid and/or corrupt business school graduates waiting to tell us that the banking sector crisis is the fault of social security, labor unions, universal healthcare, strange swarthy Greeks, individual deadbeat homeowners, welfare queens driving Cadillacs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and anyone and anything else they care to dream up. Anyone, of course, but the banks, business school grads and Milton Friedman acolytes who drove this car straight in the ditch and refuse to take any responsibility for having been right behind the wheel the whole time.
Zero job growth, with unemployment still at nosebleed levels. Meanwhile, the interest rate on 10-year US bonds is down to 2.04%, and it’s negative on inflation-protected securities.
Too bad there weren’t any prominent economists warning that the obsession with short-term deficits was a terrible mistake, that austerity would undermine hopes of recovery. Oh, wait.
The awful thing is that those of us who warned about all this – based not on some unorthodox doctrine, but on basic textbook macroeconomics – weren’t so much argued down as just ignored. Somehow, those with actual power were convinced that fiscal austerity wasn’t just an option but the only option, and that anyone arguing with that – even people like me and Joe Stiglitz, who had a few easy-to-understand credentials – were just not part of the serious discussion.
Nobel Prizes? They mean nothing. Look at Obama’s.
Is austerity killing Europe’s recovery?
By Howard Schneider, The Washington Post
Published: September 1
(T)he budget cutting has been coupled with a reluctance by the the European Central Bank to stimulate economic growth like the Federal Reserve has in the United States; the ECB has instead raised interest rates twice this year to contain inflation.
Those steps have sucked hundreds of billions of dollars out of a European economy that may be edging towards recession.
Such a downturn, by choking off government revenues and increasing the demand for public services, could put struggling countries such as Spain and Italy at risk of missing the very deficit-reduction targets that budget cuts and other austerity measures were meant to achieve.
In Spain, for instance, where the parliament this week is voting to place constitutional limits on government deficits in a bid to reassure global investors, some analysts say the country is taking the wrong medicine. Spain’s debt level remains lower than even that of Germany, the continent’s strongest economy and one of the world’s benchmark credit risks. But Spain’s unemployment rate is more than double that of the United States, and some economists say the country needs a healthy dose of policies to restore growth, not constrain it.
Recent statistics showed that the combined economy of euro-zone countries nearly stalled from April through July, with growth of just 0.2 percent. Germany’s economy, one of the main props of the region, grew just 0.1 percent. Analysts project Spain’s annual growth at about 0.7 percent for the year, far below prior government estimates of 2.3 percent.
With the euro-zone economy slowing and governments aggressively cutting, the ECB may need to concede its rate increases and tight money were a mistake…
Like that will ever happen.