Well, hasnt it been an interesting year? There has been some decent news, but nothing to write home about.
For those not keeping track, let me peruse some indicators of economic health.
The national unemployment rate is currently at 8.6 percent. Meanwhile, the number of people chronically unemployed is about 5.7 million compared with an average of 1.5 million.
And the employment-population ratio has stagnated at 58.5 percent. Labor markets havent really budged.
We also found out the inflation-adjusted median income is the same as it was in 1997, while output per person in manufacturing is up 60 percent and labor costs are only 5 percent higher over the same period.
But dont fret; the Dow Jones industrial average has risen a whopping 1.9 percent this year, as of this writing.
Could it be because of Standard & Poors downgrading U.S. debt to AA+ from AAA? Or maybe its because of Congresss seemingly endless philosophical policy debates.
Oh, yeah, its Congress. Its approval rating is 9 percent. Communism? Its approval is 11 percent. BP, 16 percent, and banks (the bane of all things Occupy), 23 percent.
Maybe investors are nervous about the euro crisis and the daily impotent Merkozy and European Central Bank plans to rescue the euro. Because members of the EU have managed to harmonize calculating inflation and unemployment, maybe they can do the same thing with fiscal policy.
The world has become familiar with the word structural as institutions, i.e. politicians, bicker over the hows and whats to do about ongoing economic crisis.
Ninety-nine percent became part of our everyday vernacular as protests in Spain spread to Greece and, with a hint of Arab Spring, gave birth to Occupy Wall Street and now Washington, D.C.
The people, of all stripes, are getting steamed. If only the Occupy and tea party movements had a more unified voice and could present cogent solutions or one solution.
We were familiarized with the difference between income taxes and capital-gains taxes, one of the main culprits in the widening income gap. Thats illustrated by Warren Buffets comment on how his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.
Ronald Reagan, raised capital-gains tax rates to cover the loss of tax revenues from a lower income tax somehow I dont see any of the GOP presidential candidates, nor House Speaker John Boehner nor Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, bringing that up. What happened to fiscal conservatism?
Oh yeah, for the first time since 1983, Social Security spent more than it took in from non-interest income.
Still, there has been some positive news, holiday spending is up 15 percent compared with last year. But the Grinch in me cringes at the 13 percent decline in savings since the beginning of the year.
Happy New Year!
Please visit us at the 20th annual Southwest Business Forum at 8 a.m. Jan. 4 at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College for predictions for next year.
firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Tino Sonora is an associate professor of economics at Fort Lewis College and the co-director of the Office of Business and Economic Research at Fort Lewis College.