Saturday, November 21, 2009


When you look at this multimedia visualization, you can see why joblessness represents an even bigger threat to economic recovery than the credit crisis that triggered this mess. Watch the black death of unemployment sweep over the country in 30 seconds or less. And notice the data feed: It does not even include the latest unemployment figures. The visualization gives you a snapshot through September 2009 when the unemployment rate reached 8.5 percent. Not shown: The current unemployment rate is 10.2 percent and still rising.

The key phrase is “double dip.” Unless the job situation improves soon, the economy may slide into a second recession … deeper and more intractable than the first.


  1. Can you explain double dipping? The map is horrifying - but I don't understand DD.

  2. Squid, we are watching as the stock market advances and basically is on a tear right now...

    We are seeing some stabilizing in home sales and prices...

    Everyone is looking to this and hoping that this upswing will begin to take hold in other areas, like consumer spending and jobs...

    If we don't then there is a good chance that investors just pull their money out of the stock market and then everything starts heading south again...

    Its sort like rolling out of bed some mornings...sometimes it takes more than one try to get up...

    That would be a double dip....

    Overtime is increasing as is temporary hires and usually that is a positive sign that companies will eventually begin hiring...

    But we are still losing a lot of banks, the commercial real estate market is setting to crash....and we are going to witness a lot of retail outlets go out of business in the first quarter of 2010...

    THAT is when we have to worry about the economy and investors giving up....

  3. SQUID: "Can you explain double dipping?"

    I hope this mud-squiggly explanation helps:

    Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total of all goods and services produced and sold in the U.S. When you plot GDP on a graph, all numbers above zero (positive GDP) represent economic growth. Conversely, all numbers below zero (negative GDP) represent recession. The term “dip” means literally a dip below the zero line signifying recession. “Double dip” refers to back-to-back recessions.

    Here is a graph of the Great Depression (double click on the graph to enlarge). Notice the orange bars below the zero line. These represent recessionary years. As you can see, there were 4 successive years of recession (1930-33) followed by 4 consecutive years of recovery (1934-37). In 1938, the country sank into recession for the second time.

    Notice the green bars on the graph. These represent unemployment through the Depression years. During the recovery years (1934-37), unemployment declined slowly but steadily until 1938 when the country dipped again into the second recession.

    Now consider the historical pattern versus the current situation.

    Officially at least, we emerged from recession sometime in late summer, but the jobless situation is worsening. Without job creation and a return to consumer confidence and spending, the recovery will be short lived.

    Thus, "double dip" means we run the risk of sinking into a second recession that may be deeper, more protracted, and more painful than the last “dip.”

    Very scary, in my opinion, something we must avoid at all cost with ... you got it ... another stimulus that targets job growth.

  4. Ok - now I get it. Thanks for the explanation - sorry - I was trying to sort out the literal meaning and getting confused (which I often do in the face of economic logic).

    This is all curious and terribly troubling. It seems to me that many people feel that the worst is over (esp. those privileged enough not to have been affected thus far - yes - such people do exist - I met people recently who actually got raises this year). It also seems that White House speak these days is all sunny and rosy about the economy - belying any claims to negativity.

    During the Depression - did politicians play the same game? Keeping people's hopes up in the face of dire evidence to the contrary? I wonder what would happen if a politician/president actually took a gamble and confronted the electorate with the cold hard truth before disaster struck?

    That's a serious question that I have often pondered - it flies in the face of political practice which is to smile (gloss) at all costs.

  5. Squid,

    If you got a bunch of economists in a room there would be a big fight amongst them and you could boil ALL of it down to "is the glass half empty or half full"

    Being the President is about Leadership...and for so long the leadership we have had has been the 'riding the wave' type rather than anything even remotely resembling taking a stand and pointing in a direction...

    Now the tide has gone out and we find ourselves shipwrecked on a rocky knoll....

    Listen to FDR's fireside chats during the early 30's he was letting everyone know that things would get better.

    Economics is all about people spending money and people spend money when they believe that the future is secure. My favorite was when GWB would tell us that the "...fundamentals of our economy were sound..." that translates into "...reality sucks but the basics are okay..."

    Well, we were a long way from the basics.....

    What did he say right after 9/11? "Go Shopping!"

    Do you really want to hear that your retirement is underfunded and in doubt, that your standard of living will drop, that you will have to work longer, harder, and for lower wages...that is if you can get a job, that the reality is our workforce will become a migrant workforce that will have to relocate to where ever the jobs are in the future, that taxes are going up, services are going down, and we are restarting the draft to cut down on unemployment...

    That is sure to get you re elected...

  6. This has been a long standing worry for me, long before the current crisis. Actually, NAFTA and the "giant sucking sound" Ross Perot warned about was the time when I realized we were screwed. Frankly, I'm surprised it took as long as it did.
    Fact is, we need to produce things that are both tangible and uniquely American. While I don't mind global competition, I think this country should tilt the scales a little in favor of domestic producers.

  7. There is not a country in the world that does not have industrial barriers: Germany, France, England, China, all of them. They have nationalized healthcare so that their companies are not burdened with legacy costs. China finances most of their industrial development through government funds and by keeping their currency undervalued.

    The FEDS are currently pushing the US Dollar lower to increase our competitiveness overseas, increase our exports and increase the price of imports so to decrease consumer spending...and every nut on the right is going nuts about it!

    Everyone loves to talk about free markets...but when you do business with a company in China you either do it as a joint venture or through a chinese company...and the profits generated in China stay in China. So companies that go overseas show these great profits and the stock market goes up but those profits stay overseas and never benefit the home company or the home country because they pay chinese taxes not US taxes on the profits.

    GM makes a killing in China but that money stays in China...

    Its time we focussed on what good for America and Americans and give up on whats good for Wall Street and Investors...

  8. I listened to a panel of economists on NPR discussing whether or not protectionism will backfire. Of course no consensus was arrived at, but the discussion was well reasoned, the participants well informed and polite.

    If only we didn't have the media the public really listens to, screaming and yelling and prophesying doom and disaster from the minute examination of entrails.

    How can a democracy decide anything under these circumstances with all the sound and fury of idiot's tales.

  9. If history is our guide, protectionism deepened the Great Depression. Besides, right now China is our banker, and you don't want to piss off your banker by erecting trade barriers. (You can always default later)

  10. As I have said in other fora (that is the plural of faunum, yes?) the chinese have a vested interest in NOT making life more difficult for us. Does anyone know the chinese ideogram for "Too Big To Fail"?

  11. Democommie, there is no symbiosis in the parasite Universe, merely schools of thought.

    it seems in the parasite Universe, there are partisans who do not agree on the right way to treat a host. There are neo-con parasites, for instance, who would kill the host outright (the Ebola School). When the host dies, they are forced to lie dormant for years until they find another host.

    Then there are parasites of the Tape Worm School who bleed the host slowly. Our trading partners fall into this category.

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