Aside from the roller-coaster ride of the wobbling Euro – up-down-spinning apart – and the other economic news which animates the moment, the Department of Labor released the latest US Employment figures, showing a decided bump downwards in the percentage of unemployed, to 8.6%. This from the alleged 9% which many observers suggest is something more in the realm of 17% or more. As usual, these figures are inherently false and falsified deliberately, for political reasons. It is normal practice that a month later “corrections” are made, usually making the figures a bit less palatable politically speaking. On the other hand in the NYTimes, Floyd Norris, economics columnist, says of late corrections have been in the other direction, and he spins the figures this way.
The editors in the same paper of record, saw it this (edited) way:
The unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November from 9 percent in October in the jobs report released Friday. The economy added 120,000 jobs and job growth was revised upward in September and October.
Most of the decline in November’s unemployment rate was not because jobless people found new work. Rather, it is because 315,000 people dropped out of the work force, a reflection of extraordinarily weak demand by employers for new workers.
The job growth numbers also come with caveats. More jobs were created than economists expected, but with the job market so weak for so long, that is a low bar. It would take nearly 11 million new jobs to replace the ones that were lost during the recession and to keep up with the growth in the working-age population in the last four years. To fill that gap would require 275,000 new jobs a month for the next five years. That’s not in the cards. Even with the better-than-expected job growth in the past three months, the economy added only 143,000 jobs on average.
And most of those new jobs are low-end ones. In November, for example, big job-growth areas included retail sales, bartending and temporary services. (Note: Xmas is around the corner, duh.) Teachers and other public employees continued to lose jobs, and job growth in construction and manufacturing were basically flat. Indeed, work — once the pathway to a rising standard of living — has become for many a route to downward mobility. Motoko Rich reported in The Times recently on new research showing that most people who lost their jobs in recent years now make less and have not maintained their lifestyles, with many experiencing what they describe as drastic — and probably irreversible — declines in income.
Against that backdrop, the modest improvement in the jobs report, even if sustained in the months to come, would not be enough to repair the damage from the recession and its slow-growth aftermath. Help is needed, yet Congress is tied in knots over even basic recovery measures, like extending federal unemployment benefits and the temporary payroll tax cut.
This past week saw a concerted effort on the part of so-called “Central Banks,” including The Fed, to make dollars more liquid in the face of the tightening of Euro credit in Europe. This action was hailed by “the markets” with a one day jump of around 4%. The next day stocks slumped slightly – a phenomenon that has been repeated many times since 2008. This process is a mixture of the Central Banks printing more money and giving it to banks are far lower interest rates than they will then loan it for – in effect, free money for the banks. This functions to keep the usary system working and capitalism humming, if only for another day or week or month. The cruel truth, which our bankers and their politicians dance around, is that the entire system was “leveraged” into a massive self-serving Ponzi scheme in which those in the financial industry robbed the banks, and left the empty bag in the public’s hand. In doing so it has toppled several governments – Greece and Italy – which in turn gave the keys of those governments to – drum roll please – the bankers. The new head of Italy, Mario Monti, is a former Goldman Sachs man and of course, a banker. Lucas Papademos, the appointed (not elected) head of Greece is a former member of the Trilateral Commission, and, well gosh darn, banker.
In the current scramble to save the Euro the manifest self-interest of the US is being willfully smudged: American banks are deeply involved with their European counterparts, and should the latter go bust, their Atlantic cousins will follow shortly thereafter – though American banks are moving as quickly as they can to dump Euro funds. But for what? Incredible shrinking greenbacks? Renminbi? The brutal truth is that there is so much outstanding manufactured debt in the system that it out “values” all the assets in the world by factors beyond counting. Missing in the endless mumbo-jumbo arcanities of the “financial industry” – bonds, sovereign bonds, CDO, derivatives, and many other even more esoteric acronyms – are the simple words “shell game.” Though anyone familiar with any professional world knows that the jargon of the profession is essentially designed to hide the inner workings from those on the outside.
So today’s news titillates with the impending tilt of the “futures market” with hedge-funders making their bets on the crystal ball, where they win when others lose. Meanwhile mere humans await news of their fates – whether their “savings” in the form of 401-K’s or cash in the mattress or a looked-for Social Security or European pension will be evaporated at the stroke of a pen, or the election of political Dracula’s looking for a fast fix.