Sunday, February 8, 2009

Attack of the dunderheads...

I must say that I am overwhelmed by the comments I have had and the sorts of thin reeds people seize on to size me up. I have been in the public eye doing TV, radio and being quoted places since 1982, when I left my job at the NY Fed. I usually appear on TV somewhere each week plus I do radio interviews and provide wire service quotes and the like So what I say and think are pretty much out there in the public domain. There are going to be things I say that you like and things you don't like. I'm going to make some good forecasts and some bad ones. That's the risk of commenting and providing forecasts.

Imagine how surprised I am to be called a Republican and an Obama-hater. In fact I have voted in both Republican and Democrat primaries since I have been a registered member of each party at different times in the past. But I have not voted in a Republican primary in over 20 years; same is true of Democratic primaries. For those that want to jump to groundless conclusions based on some of my stylistic writing preferences, let me point out that it has been my habit to refer to Fed chairmen, Fed governors, Fed bank presidents and the like by last name only. That goes for presidents too. I have tried to stretch a bit to call Obama 'Mr Obama' and to be sure he has had the benefit of some honorific. But that practice is not iron-clad. I have not withheld the title that so obviously is his. Someone is reading too-much between the lines.

Comparison to Rush Limbaugh is disgusting. He is no role model. I really dislike ideologues on both sides. I may use some rhetorical flourishes (or mild insults) in this BLOG ( IT'S A BLOG after all!!!) but I do rely on facts and I do present them and do not rely on put-downs to make a point. But you have to admit sometimes it's fun.

Still reading Adrian???.

As for the one numb skull who said that I said there would be no recession, look at the interview (with Suzie Gharib on the Nightly business report... it ran on July 19, 2006. ( Now what pains me is that other people have jumped on this claim and have referred to my stupidity in missing/denying the recession. This was done without going to link to check what I said in the interview or when it was said. The critic provided the link but apparently did not himself/herself check the date in the story. That's like a blind man saying he does not like my paintings!

By any reckoning saying there would not be a recession at that point was correct and was a GOOD FORECAST. The recession did not start for another 1 1/2 years and its fate was not sealed for over two more years when jobs finally collapsed after huge increases in energy prices. I did warn of ongoing energy price increases in the PBS interview with Suzie.

For God's sake read. I really don't care what people who are that uncareful think about me, but if you really care about about the issues and if you are trying to figure out who tells the truth then pay attention to small things Like WHEN someone said something.

I did in fact contend early in 2008 that recession was not inevitable even with the persistent but mild job declines early in the year. Once oil prices shot up to $100/bbl I called for recession and soon after we had the job losses that were the trigger andwe were in recession.

As economists always say ... on the other hand... I do admit that the housing decline has been more pronounced than I thought. The use of derivatives has made the damage so much worse than the $360bln sub-prime market seemed to warrant. Banks have really cut back and made things worse. But now the Fed's Senior Loan Officer Survey says banks have backed off on tightening conditions the way they had in 2008-Q4. That's good news.

But that's what happens when you forecast, you are wrong sometimes. I won't try and hide forecasting mistakes. You need to face up to them so you can learn from them and move on...

By the way: Everyone makes mistakes even presidents elected by large margins...

As for compariosns with Adam Posner I don't get it. You want to compare my chatty blog to his academic-like papers? OK your call. But even in this blog I have been critical of the WSJ when it quoted Robert Barro of Harvard when he said the multiplier may not be even one. Posner has urged stimulus which I am in favor of, too. I am not in favor of this mega-stimulus that goes on for years and years. I still have heard no defense of it that I can embrace - from Posner or anyone else.

All of this is very interesting to me because it helps me to understand why economic literacy is so low. People will believe what they want and will ignore the details of truth to skewer whoever they want to put at a disadvantage. I have so many quotes floating out there I hope people are careful with the context in which they use them. Of course I know they are not. It is eye-opening how people on my own blog attribute to me things I have not said and infer from my writings things I do not believe and that do not characterize me. It's all about modern character assassination. However, some these assassins have guns, but alas, no bullets.

More facts and opinions...
I continue to be optimistic that this recession will end by mid-year. In my weekly email to clients I document the trends. My weekly round of eco-data shows that the recession job losses (even percentage losses) are among the worst in any post-1960 recession, but the hours-worked losses are not as bad. GDP has hardly declined at all. Yep. The best and broadest measure of goods and services output of the economy is showing this is the MILDEST recession at the fifth quarter mark of recession! (That is a fact). That result is due largely to exports that are strong, imports that are weak ( imports subtract from GDP) and productivity that is among the strongest in any recession in the past 50 years in terms of its profile in recession.

I know a lot of you want to say it's a depression in order to justify MEGA-SPENDING but the data are not there. Job losses are severe but the economy is about more than just jobs. So bitch if you want but don't kill the messenger. Maybe even question what you have been told by others and maybe even do it enough to try and search out the facts for yourself!!! Imagine- facts in addition to opinion.

Thanks for all your comments. They help to keep the blog alive. I see lots of opinions out there. Just hope that you apply the same standards to your selves you want to apply to me. Nasty comments simply drop though grate. If you have some point to make make and if you have a fact to support it, that might be interesting too. If your have a person who's view refutes mine or refutes a 'fact' I've presented, offer a link to it and so on. We will make progress instead name-calling.

Expect me to be hard on Obama because he IS the president. It's his job to do good and to do it well. He campaigned for this, he wanted this responsibility. He's got it. I want to see evidence that he can make his soaring rhetoric fly.

Can he?

I'll not go easy on him just because so many want to cut him slack. Count on that and don't misconstrue it. It's called democracy and free speech.

REMINDER - Since I don't get a chance to vote the way I like, I am very hard on elected officials that matriculate through the political partisan patronage system. I cannot vote in primaries in NYC because the parties OWN them. My tax dollars, curiously, pay for them but the parties own them. In Michigan, where I grew up, I could vote in any primary I wanted - but just one. Now I don't even have that option. And no third part has a chance as long as this is true and as long as we have a winner take all electoral college. So call me a spoil-sport. Since I have to play the election game with marked cards I will be tough on the guy/gal that wins the big pot -every time. Democrat or Republican..

End of story.