Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

October 27, 2013

MICHAEL HICKS: A still uncertain economy

Something's wrong, and it defies easy explanation.

This past week I attended a meeting of econo-mists from research centers around the country. Aside from the com-ments about government shutdown, the buzz is really all about the very uncertain economic and policy conditions the U.S. now faces.

There is widespread worry that we might be in the midst of a second economic slowdown since the Great Recession. The first of these, which happened last year, seems to have been at least partially remedied by the Federal Reserve’s massive purchase of assets known as Quantitative Easing, the most recent of which was accompanied by a marked short-term improvement in the economy. That improvement seems to have run its course. Over the past few months, labor markets have stalled, and, despite the Fed adding $85 billion a month through asset purchases, inflation appears as distant as ever. Something remains terribly wrong in the U.S. economy, and it defies easy explanation, but there are some tantalizing hints.

Overall production has surpassed the prerecession levels. Labor markets remain crushingly dismal, and that is the problem.

Americans have lost jobs and quit looking for work at shocking levels. Perhaps 15 percent of adults who should be working right now are not, and most jobs created this year are part-time. For workers with college degrees, there has been growth of about 4.5 million new jobs since the recession ended. For everyone else, there are fewer jobs. Why this is the case was the aching question of this economic conference.

Part of the problem is that many workers simply do not have the skills to be rehired at something like their old jobs. This may be half of unemployed workers since 2009.

Public policy clearly plays a role, and a growing body of research (some from my center) points to labor policies and income support that accompanied the stimulus bill have disincentivized work and led people to choose leisure over labor. The matter has become so clear that virtually no economist now argues that some combination of higher minimum wages, long-term unemployment and expansions of food stamps (SNAP) and other programs aren’t distorting labor markets. Moreover, no matter what anyone thinks of ultimate wisdom of the health care legislation, it could not have been more unfortunately timed.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAVE BANGERT: Indiana's new chief justice and court's 'mom question' Two years ago, as Loretta Rush ascended from Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge to the state’s Supreme Court, I dropped this line in a column celebrating someone who had earned her place.“Across the state, the headline will be: ‘[Mitch] Daniels Choose

    August 14, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: POTUS promises of transparency fail to materialize The United States system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convinc

    August 14, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: RIP Robin Williams

    I was re-watching the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine” Monday when I heard my phone buzz. After the credits had rolled, I looked at the screen and found myself shocked.It was a news alert that Robin Williams had died that morning at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' is a Hoosier inspiration

    Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton dese

    August 13, 2014

  • DAVE BANGERT: Rokita, illegal immigration, Ebola outbreak and context At first listen last Monday, there was something so unsavory about our congressman, Todd Rokita, whipping up two full-fledged crises — Central American children at the U.S. southern border and the African scourge of Ebola — into one pungent sound bit

    August 12, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Let's give nonprofits relief from IRS delays A flurry of scandal has recently surrounded the Internal Revenue Service.Over the past few months, we have learned about missing emails from IRS employees and revelations of clear bias and hostility by a top IRS official towards organizations with ce

    August 12, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Pitchforks and pikes in our summer of discontent Congress is ... embarrassing. Our political system is failing us. On an individual basis, many of us have respect for members of our delegation. We can have a common sense conversation with a senator, congressman or congresswoman, and then they go ba

    August 11, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Enough reminders to forget It began with a simple phone call to my friend, Auri, a computer geek I asked to help me with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month. To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a

    August 11, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Outsourced jobs, health crises in foreign lands The other week, my Internet was giving me trouble. I called the support number, and — to my surprise — I spoke to a representative who sounded as American as apple pie. It turned out the technical problem was an oversight on my end and fixed quickly.

    August 10, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Dodging corporate taxes Corporations are among our oldest institutions. Something like a joint stock company probably triggered the earliest formal written communication — the accounting ledger. It should be unsurprising that the early traders of Mesopotamia used a corporat

    August 10, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Heavy Rains Flood Arizona Roads US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller