In the first half hour of the show, Jack Rasmus takes on the professional economics forecasting establishment and their continual missed prognostications about the condition and direction of the US economy. Reviewing the most recent US economic data for March and April, revisions of US first quarter 2015 GDP estimates in late May show the US economy performed worse in the January-March period than the 0.2% GDP initial estimated growth rate. Jack discusses how new data on business inventories, trade, and retail sales will show a -0.5% or even worse in first quarter US GDP. Data for March and April already show a continuing soft trend, with US retail sales flat, and sales of autos and big ticket items collapsing.
Data released last week by the U.S. government showed the U.S. economy came to a near halt in the first three months of 2015, falling to nearly zero – i.e. a mere 0.2 percent annual growth rate for the January-March quarter. The collapse was the fourth time that the U.S. economy in the past four years either came to a virtual halt or actually declined. Four times in four years it has stalled out. So what’s going on?
In 2011, the U.S. economy collapsed to 0.1 percent in terms of annual growth rate. At the end of 2012, to a mere 0.2 percent initial decline. In early 2014, it actually declined by -2.2 percent.
And now in 2015, it is essentially flat once again at 0.2 percent. The numbers are actually even worse, if one discounts the redefinitions of GDP that were made by the US in 2013, counting new categories as contributing to growth, like R&D spending, that for decades were not considered contributors to growth – in effect creating economic growth by statistical manipulation. Those highly questionable 2013 definitional additions to growth added around US$500 billion a year to U.S. growth estimates, or about 0.3 percent of U.S. GDP. Back those redefinitions out, and the U.S. experienced negative GDP four times in the last four years. We get -0.2 percent in 2011, 0 percent in 2012, -2.5 percent in 2014 and -0.1 percent earlier this year.
It is therefore arguable that the U.S. has also experienced at least one mild ‘double dip’ recession, and perhaps two, since 2010.
Jack Rasmus updates last week’s show on the decline in US GDP with new data for trade, productivity and jobs, and reviews events of the global economy in Europe, China and elsewhere including the Euro and global bond market sell off of the past week. A preview of his new book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’ due later this summer, is offered, describing the 9 key trends in the global economy today that represent the ‘dead cat bounce’ recovery: slowing real investment, drift toward deflation, explosion of central bank liquidity and credit, rising global corporate debt, the shift to speculative financial asset investing, the restructuring of financial and labor markets in the 21st century, and why central bank monetary policy and government fiscal policies are failing to generate a sustained real recovery of the global economy. How it is all resulting in rising global income inequality in turn.
Dr. Jack Rasmus analyzes US 1st Quarter GDP numbers, where US economic growth flattened out to a mere 0.2%--the fourth such collapse in the US economy in as many years. Is it due to the weather, as some argue? Is there something wrong with US statistics, showing four collapses since 2009 all occurring in the winter? Or are there real economic explanations for why the US economy periodically surges in the summer then stalls out in the winter, as it has since 2011? Will this winter 2015’s stall be followed by another ‘temporary surge’ in growth this summer?
Jack Rasmus discusses the recent report that the wealthiest 1%, who own most of the stock in US corporations, will receive more than $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts in 2015. Buybacks-dividends delivered $3.8 trillion since the end of the recession in 2009, with another trillion coming this year.
Jack Rasmus welcomes grass roots organizers, Emmelle Israel of the AFL-CIO and Kali Gochmanofsky of Citizenstrade, who are helping to organize opposition to the pending passage in Congress of ‘fast track’ and the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Emmelle and Kali describe what’s going on with today’s (Saturday April 18) national day of actions against the free trade agreement and where listeners can go to participate today, Saturday, April 18, and in days to follow.
Jack Rasmus interviews long time union representative, Jerry Gordon, and co-organizer of the upcoming Labor Fightback Network conference, to be held May 15-17, at Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey. (For information on the conference, go to: www.laborfightback.org/conference/ Gordon explains the objectives of the conference, where leading local union and community leaders from across the country are gathering to develop a plan of action for forthcoming labor-community struggles this summer—from the Carolinas’ fight against police violence with the People’s Organization for Progress, to union fightbacks against Koch brothers-financed right to work legislation in Ohio-Wisconsin, to support for the fight to stop the TPP and ‘fast track’, to defend against current efforts in Congress to make seniors pay more for Medicare, and other attacks on union workers benefits. Gordon explains the 3 objectives of the LFN and conference: 1. To get unions and community organizations to launch a ‘national mobilization’ in the streets to stop the attacks, to get local union and community leaders to initiate real independent political action (of the two parties) and run candidates outside the Democratic party, and to forge closer organizational ties between labor and social movements (like opposition to police brutality) now beginning to emerge nationwide.
Dr. Jack Rasmus turns the focus of today’s show from the global economy to the USA economy specifically. Is the USA economy ‘exceptional’, i.e. growing robustly while the rest of the global economy slows or stagnates? Rasmus explains that assumption of US Economic Exceptionalism is a myth. The myth is based on US GDP growth last summer 2014 of 4-5% in GDP terms and the creation of more than 200,000 jobs a month throughout last year. Rasmus looks at the data and economic forces behind the two arguments of exceptionalism—2014 GDP and jobs—to show the arguments were based on temporary factors which have already come to an end: GDP growth in fourth quarter 2014 already fell to 2.2%, and Rasmus predicts it will decline to well less than 1% GDP when first quarter 2015 GDP numbers are reported in May. Today’s latest jobs report for March is also a return to a sub-par 126,000 jobs created, when forecasts by economists were for 248,000. Rasmus explains that 2014 temporary economic effects from manufacturing exports, government defense spending before elections, another business false inventory buildup, the shale industrial boom, and household retail and auto sales have dissipated in the past three months,
A two part show re-launches Alternative Visions today. In the first part, Jack interviews long time progressive activist, writer, journalist and educator, Michael Albert, of the ‘Z Collective’ to explain the new radical political online school being launched starting next week, called ‘Z School’.