Punditry is counter-cyclical
Business are making a lot of money right now. But they're not hiring. That's bad for the economy, but it's been good for commentators who can say that the reason they're not hiring is because the government is doing things that the commentator doesn't like, or maybe because the government isn't doing things the commentator does like. For instance, here's Nobel-prize winning economist Gary Becker:
The real threat to a robust recovery on the labor side has come from employer and entrepreneurial fears that once the economic environment improves, a Democratic Congress and administration will pass pro-union and other pro-worker legislation that will raise the cost of doing business and cut profits. In this way the obvious pro-union-pro-worker bias of the present government has contributed to a slower recovery, especially in labor markets. This helps explain the depressingly slow decline in unemployment rates and in the number of workers who have given up looking for jobs.
You'll notice that there's no actual data backing up this assertion. No polls, no anecdotes, no studies. Nothing. And yet it's a huge claim: A Nobel-prize winning economist naming "the real threat to a robust recovery" during arguably the worst economy since the Great Depression. But he's just spitballing.
I'm pointing to Becker's post because it's particularly weird: I've been reporting on the question of business confidence all week, and I can say that unions are not something that business trade associations, business owners, economic forecasters or economists are mentioning, at least in my sample. I've heard about aggregate demand and general uncertainty, I've heard concerns about taxes and deficits and the financial reform law. I haven't heard about the Employee Free Choice Act.
But I expect to see even more of this kind of thing as time goes on. The conversation over what the economy needs is increasingly becoming a conversation over what people would like to see Washington do (or undo, or not do) in general. Paul Ryan thinks businesses would start hiring if we repealed financial regulation and health-care reform. George Voinovich thinks the answer is a highway bill. Rahm Emanuel isn't the only one who doesn't like to waste economic crises.
Posted by: tuber | August 5, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rmgregory | August 5, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cummije5 | August 5, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: robbins2 | August 5, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: visionbrkr | August 5, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tuber | August 5, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nancycadet | August 5, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: chrisgaun | August 6, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: staticvars | August 7, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse