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Modest Growth In Jobs Report Makes Its Election Impact Unclear

Throughout the Presidential campaign, there has been an inordinate amount of attention paid to the monthly unemployment report, more so than I recall seeing in previous election cycles. For many months during the summer, we saw reports that were, to say the least, disappointing, but there was very little impact on the polling numbers no matter how many times the Romney campaign brought it up. In October, when the President’s shockingly bad debate performance was followed up by a generally positive jobs report in which the Unemployment Rate dipped below 8% for the first time since President Obama took office, but it also didn’t have much of an impact on the polls, which saw Mitt Romney rise considerably for most of the month of October.  Despite the fact that reports seemingly haven’t had much of an impact on the polls, today’s final report has been much anticipated, so I suppose the Obama campaign should be somewhat pleased that it contained moderately good news:

Both the unemployment rate (7.9 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (12.3 million) were essentially unchanged in October, following declines in September. ( See table A-1.)

(…)

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October. Employment growth has averaged 157,000 per month thus far in 2012, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011. In October, employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in October, with gains in services to buildings and dwellings (+13,000) and in computer systems design (+7,000). Temporary help employment changed little in October and has shown little net change over the past 3 months. Employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.6 million since its most recent low point in September 2009.

Health care added 31,000 jobs in October. Job gains continued in ambulatory health care services (+25,000) and hospitals (+6,000). Over the past year, employment in health care has risen by 296,000.

Retail trade added 36,000 jobs in October, with gains in motor vehicles and parts dealers (+7,000), and in furniture and home furnishings stores (+4,000). Retail trade has added 82,000 jobs over the past 3 months, with most of the gain occurring in motor vehicles and parts dealers, clothing and accessories stores, and miscellaneous store retailers.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up (+28,000) over the month.This industry has added 811,000 jobs since a recent low point in January 2010, with most of the gain occurring in food services.

Employment in construction edged up in October. The gain was concentrated in specialty trade contractors (+17,000).

Manufacturing employment changed little in October. On net, manufacturing employment has shown little change since April.

Mining lost 9,000 jobs in October, with most of the decline occurring in support activities for mining. Since May of this year, employment in mining has decreased by 17,000.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

The main reason that the Unemployment Rate ticked up a tenth of a point appears to be the fact that the Labor Force Participation Rate, which still sits near 31 year lows, ticked upward in October, meaning that there were more people out there looking forward work. At the same time, though, if we had the same LFPR we did when Obama became President, the current Unemployment Rate would be 10.6%. Digging down deeper into the report, we see that U-6, the long term unemployment rate, ticked down slightly from 14.7% to 14.6%. When the President took office, U-6 was 14.2%. There were also significant revisions to both the August and September jobs reports. August job creation revised up from 142,000 to 192,000, while September job creation revised up from 114,000 to 148,000. These are fairly good numbers, but it should be noted that, at this rate, it would be 2025 before we restored all the jobs lost in the recession. Heck, even if we bumped job creation to an average of 210,000 net jobs per month, which is far above what we’ve seen in 2011 and 2012, it would still take until 2021 to get back to something resembling normal.

CNBC sees some positive signs here:

Economists had been expecting the report to show a net of 125,000 new jobs and a steadying of the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. Nomura Securities predicted the rate would fall to 7.7 percent, but most expected no change.

Most of the job creation came in the services sector, with a gain of 150,000, while government employment rolls saw a collective decrease of 13,000, according to the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The labor market continued to improve in October, generating 171,000 new jobs, providing a needed boost to recovering consumer sentiment and bolstering optimism for the upcoming holiday season,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board.

Markets initially reacted positively to the report, with stock market indexes opening slightly higher, but the averages turned lower a half-hour into trading.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those employed part-time who would rather work full-time ticked lower to 14.6 percent.

The labor force participation rate, a key metric that measures those working or looking for jobs, edged higher to 63.8 percent after wallowing around 31-year lows for the past several months. The total level of employment jumped by 410,000.

Politically, I’m not sure that this report is going to have much of an impact on the race. Had the numbers been bad, then there report would’ve provided the Romney campaign with an excellent news item around which frame the closing days of the campaign. What we got instead was a modestly positive report that still isn’t all that great when you look at the big picture. To some extent, I’d say that the report is positive for the President and negative for Romney because it makes it more difficult for the Romney campaign to push its closing argument and emphasize the economy. They’ll try, no doubt, by pointing to the fact that the Unemployment Rate went up and is now at a higher rate (by one tenth of a point) than it was in January 2009, but it strikes me that this argument isn’t going to fly largely because the underlying numbers show a positive story at the moment. Their argument now is that “it should be improving faster,” and I’m not really sure how strong an argument that is.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    Skeptics of previous improvements liked to note that U6 hadn’t moved, but in this report U6 had the improvement. See how many of them are still U6 fans.

    Overall, we have been in a slow recovery for years and attempts to paint it as something else, by cherry picking, have failed.

    As always the real unasked and unanswered question is what if anything conservatives would do for short term acceleration of the economy. It’s always “we don’t believe it’s the government’s job, but we blame Obama.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 1

  2. JKB says:

    Probably little if any impact on the voters. The ones out of work and their friends/family know their reality so statistics are unlikely to change their opinion. The report really doesn’t offer any hope of jobs improvement or change in the “new norm” at least as far as the election.

    Not mention, the November unemployment rate is going to be seriously ugly due to Sandy. Businesses lost, businesses shutdown, displaced workers. I read on woman commenting she was having to leave lower Manhattan due to no power/no food but couldn’t come back because she didn’t have two others to ride with her into the city. So, at least for the near term, no job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  3. JKB says:

    @john personna: It’s always “we don’t believe it’s the government’s job, but we blame Obama.”

    Well, the chattering class on both sides like to have their “bad guy” but Obama has done the one thing in the president’s power, made things worse with his meddling. In general, all the “elite” love to meddle but Obama has gone further making employing workers more expensive with Obamacare and other regulatory “actions”.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 30

  4. Hal 10000 says:

    I’m just wondering how long it’s going to take until the “jobs numbers are improving because of Mitt Romney” meme emerges. I remember the libs trying out that line with Clinton when the jobs numbers improved late in the game for Bush 41.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  5. Curtis says:

    Not only is the headline jobs number higher than analysts expected, they increased the estimates of both August and September. And we have the unemployment rate ticking up, which is not ideal, but it is the kind of tick-up that you get at the start of a more robust recovery. Who cares about the politics? This is great news for the country, compared to where we thought we were just a couple of months ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Judged against some fantasy things are not going that well. Judged against every other developed nation in the real world? We’re doing great.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Speaking of jobs and elections, with the stroke of a pen the Feds could unshackle the country’s vast but repressed energy sectors. Of course politically speaking that’s not possible, given that the far left pulls the strings of today’s version of the Democrat Party. But just for shits and giggles, and to kill some time, below is a non-exhaustive list of business segments of the private sector economy that would add colossal numbers of high-paying jobs if the left wing came to realize that people and livelihoods are more important than where caribou take their dumps, and where salamanders slither around, and also are more important than making sure wealthy liberals feel superior about themselves at Park Avenue cocktail parties:

    - Construction design, planning, engineering and architecture.
    - Heavy construction.
    - Construction equipment manufacturing, leasing and distribution.
    - Oil, shale oil, and natural gas exploration, drilling, pipeline and fracking operations.
    - Railroads and locomotive and rail car design, engineering, manufacturing and, leasing.
    - Refining operations, terminal operations, LPG plant operations, LNG plant operations.
    - Heavy shipbuilding and ship leasing.
    - Ports operations and barge transports.
    - Offshore oil riggers and drilling operations.

    Then we’d need a lot of additional people to manage the people who’d operate all of the new rigs, terminal facilities, plants, pipelines and refineries. And those managers would need assistants, A/P clerks, A/R clerks, HR managers, controllers and payroll administrators, etc. Then we’d also need a lot of extra people to repair and to maintain all of the new rigs, pipelines, rail links, terminals, refineries, locomotives, rail cars, trucks, trailers, equipment, engines, etc. And those people would need people to supervise them. And those supervisors would need bookkeepers, collections reps, customer service reps, benefits coordinators, etc. So on, so forth.

    We could create a similar albeit not quite as expansive of a list for additional nuclear power plants.

    How much more obvious do the long-term solutions need to become?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 25

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    @john personna:

    Skeptics of previous improvements liked to note that U6 hadn’t moved, but in this report U6 had the improvement. See how many of them are still U6 fans.

    Trends can’t be drawn from one data point. At this point it’s just statistical noise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Modulo Myself says:

    A real question would be: why is any conservative or Republican unhappy with our job growth?

    The private sector grew and the public did not; and the private sector added more jobs than it did under Bush II.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  10. Herb says:

    Had the numbers been bad, then there report would’ve provided the Romney campaign with an excellent news item around which frame the closing days of the campaign.

    They could use it, but the instinct to go negative is too ingrained. Trying to squeeze it into the whole “Romentum” story –look, the economy is adding jobs because of the hope for a new Romney administration– may not have even occurred to them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  11. legion says:

    @Herb: What it _will_ do is give the idiots and lunatics – looking at Trump and Jack Welch here – more fodder for claiming a vast, oppressive conspiracy by the O-bot administration to fix the election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. legion says:

    @JKB:

    Obama has done the one thing in the president’s power, made things worse with his meddling.

    What color is the sky on your world? Under Obama, unemployment has stopped getting worse, and started getting better. Wall Street is pretty much back up to pre-crash levels and looking towards record profits again. What exactly has he “made worse with his meddling” except the chances of Republicans ever being allowed to have responsibility again?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  13. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    Well, the chattering class on both sides like to have their “bad guy” but Obama has done the one thing in the president’s power, made things worse with his meddling.

    Really, do you have executive orders to back that up?

    Or are you blaming Congress? Which bills?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  14. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I certainly like the long charts at Calculated Risk and elsewhere, but I was addressing the cherry pickers, and goading them to stick with their same concern.

    Long term U6 shows sizable improvement. They said no, look at the level.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    As Floyd Norris reports, it The Recovery Spreads

    Over the last 12 months, the story has been different. First, the recovery has accelerated. There were 3.1 million more jobs shown in the household survey released Friday than in the October 2011 survey, and one million of them were in the prime-age category. Workers over the age of 60 still got one-third of them, but two-thirds went to younger workers.

    People get older every year, of course, and the size of each population group changes as people who were 59, for example, turn 60 and move into a different bracket. You can control for that by looking at the employment-to-population ratio for each bracket. Compared with a year ago, it is up for every five-year bracket under 65, but level for the brackets above that age.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Geek, Esq. says:

    At this point, a tie goes to the President. Clock is ticking, Romney is behind. No events left to change the course of the race.

    The persuasion phase of the race is over. It’s all about executing GOTV efforts now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  17. Cycloptichorn says:

    @legion:

    Yeah, they live in an alternate universe, one in which the economy was booming until the day Obama was elected and has done nothing but get worse the entire time he’s been in office. Which is the exact opposite of the truth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  18. deathcar2000 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Im with you commrad Tsar! We must demand that the weakling Obama seize the means of production from the unsure captialists and create a Workers Utopia.

    Free Gas for the Proles double coffee rations and chocolate for the party faithful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  19. gVOR08 says:

    The greatest consequence of this election will be the economic history.

    Most recessions are caused by the Fed raising interest rates. They are not worldwide, and recovery is rapid after the Fed lowers rates. This was not that kind of recession. Rates weren’t high to start with, and the Fed has lowered rates to essentially zero, as low as they can go without more creativity and will than the Fed is likely to muster.

    Given the nature of the recession, and Republican intransigence, Obama has done as well as could reasonably be expected. We are clearly recovering and will probably return to normal within the next couple years.

    If Obama remains in office, he will get credit, along with Keynesian economics. If Romney is elected, Republicans will claim credit for Obama’s recovery, as has been their plan all along, and they will claim this vindicates Neo Liberal econ and whatever tinkle down voodoo they’re pushing next year.

    Shorter – If Obama is elected, we will follow reality based economics, probably for the next decade or more. If Romney is elected, we will get faith based econ, tax cuts for the wealthy, and devil take the hindmost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. john personna says:

    @gVOR08:

    Given the nature of the recession, and Republican intransigence, Obama has done as well as could reasonably be expected. We are clearly recovering and will probably return to normal within the next couple years.

    I don’t know. I think it’s possible that leaders have privately accepted a “Japanese future” as less bad than all the others. In that case, the new normal is not nice.

    Note to JKB and friends, no you can’t suddenly switch from “we are Greece” to Japan. You were wrong, and the nature of your wrongness contributed to the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  21. C. Clavin says:

    Jesus-god you can almost hear Doug pouting because he has to moderate his much preferred tone of gloom and doom.
    This recovery is accelerating…because of housing…and because Doug’s wet-dream of Government Austerity has stalled.
    So ask yourself before you enter the voting booth…does it make sense to vote for the guy who is promising to slash discretionary spending by 20%? Because if you vote for Romney you are voting for the next recession…sparked by draconian spending cuts in the public sector…used to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest.
    By-the-way…you would also be voting to reward the Republican Congressional Caucus…who for the last four years have done everything they could to hold back this recovery. You will be rewarding people who put party and political gain before country…a form of treason if you ask me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  22. C. Clavin says:

    “…Their argument now is that “it should be improving faster,” and I’m not really sure how strong an argument that is…”

    Well…actually that has been their argument all along. To paraphrase:

    “…We left the country a shit-storm…and you haven’t cleaned up our mess fast enough…so let us back in charge so we can screw stuff up some more…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  23. michael reynolds says:

    It’s fun watching conservative geographical fascinations shift. Remember when they loved the “Celtic Tiger,” Ireland, and it’s pro-business, pro-growth policies and were urging us to be more like Ireland? Then the world went to pieces and what did Ireland do? Again followed the conservative approach, slashing spending. Result? 15% unemployment.

    We don’t hear as much about the Celtic Tiger anymore.

    Meanwhile, under the jackbooted oppression of socialist-Muslim-fascist Obama we are making a slow, steady recovery from eight years of GOP management. We are better off than just about every developed nation. Certainly better off than those that followed conservative prescriptions.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  24. Davebo says:

    Modest Growth In Jobs Report Makes Its Election Impact Unclear

    Job growth is up and previous estimates are also modified to reflect greater job growth.

    In other words, Doug is blue and not surprisingly attempting to make the picture as bleak as possible.

    Can we go back to discussing Republicans who are to ashamed to call themselves Republicans Doug?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @ Michael Reynolds…

    “…Meanwhile, under the jackbooted oppression of socialist-Muslim-fascist Obama we are making a slow, steady recovery from eight years of GOP mis-management…”

    Fixed that for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  26. stonetools says:

    Economy moving slowly in the right direction=status quo, which means good for Obama. He still has a 75% chance of winning, according to those who know THE MATH. Indeed, his probably of winning will likely rise to maybe 80 %.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Moosebreath says:

    @legion:

    “What it _will_ do is give the idiots and lunatics – looking at Trump and Jack Welch here – more fodder for claiming a vast, oppressive conspiracy by the O-bot administration to fix the election.”

    Because of course Obama would have manipulated the numbers to massively understate the rate of new jobs for August and September, so that he gets another great piece of news in the 10th or so paragraph of every news story on the report, instead of better numbers the past two months, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. cian says:

    We are better off than just about every developed nation. Certainly better off than those that followed conservative prescriptions

    Unemployment in the UK 8.9%

    Unemployment in the EU 11%

    Conservative prescriptions reign supreme in both regions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  29. C. Clavin says:

    Only Republicans would find the news that people are re-entering the job-market in the context of improving economic and employment news…a bad thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @john personna: I’d like to disagree. I really would. But I can’t. It’s entirely possible that under Obama we (really our supposed elites) decide to have a “lost decade” or more. However, I feel that even that outcome is better than what’s likely under Bush Romney.

    Joe Biden was right. If Romney’s elected, a couple dozen billionaires will have a breakfast meeting on the 7th. Partly celebration, partly presentation of demands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    Here’s why we’re muddling through while Europe has gone into reverse:

    http://econintersect.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/private-sector-balance-vs-public-sector-balance.jpg

    The private sector’s surplus is the government’s deficit. We left our deficits untouched and have been in a weak recovery a la Japan ever since. Europe is still trying the opposite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Rob in CT says:

    The muddling through continues, though perhaps with rays of sunshine coming through.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Rob in CT says:

    Ben,

    According to MMT, the more complete equation is government deficit = private sector surplus +/- trade, right? So if you have a gov’t deficit of 100 (just using made up numbers) and a trade deficit of 8, you have private sector profit of 92, no?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rob in CT: You’ve got the general idea. The equations are a bit more complex but the rule is that the balances of the private, government and foreign sectors must sum to zero. So let’s take your example:

    So if you have a gov’t deficit of 100 (just using made up numbers) and a trade deficit of 8, you have private sector profit of 92, no?

    And state that:

    Government sector is -100 (deficit)

    The private sector is + 92 (surplus)

    The foreign sector is +8 (deficit from our perspective but surplus from the foreign trade partners’ perspective).

    92 + 8 + (-100) = 0 and the sectors are in balance. If the trade deficit were to worsen to +10 it would by definition require greater spending from either the private sector, government sector, or both. The point is you’ve correctly intuited that the sectors’ must always be in balance or you get real trouble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. Rob in CT says:

    So, wouldn’t it make sense to worry mostly about the “foreign sector” part?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rob in CT: If you’re interested in more detail Bill Mitchell has been posting chapters of his upcoming MMT textbook on his blog. The sectoral balance equation is here:

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=21389

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Rob in CT says:

    I think I got the whole sectoral balance thing from a 4-part “primer” post on MMT. I forget exactly where.

    It makes sense to me, and it leads me directly to the question: so, isn’t a large and persistent trade deficit a really bad thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rob in CT:

    So, wouldn’t it make sense to worry mostly about the “foreign sector” part?

    Well that’s the debate. Mosler and Mitchell consider imports to be a net benefit for the importer because they’re receiving real goods and resources while the exporter is only getting electronic money on a computer screen. The problem comes when government spending fails to take into account the financial assets lost in the process. A $500 billion trade deficit means the private sector is $500 billion poorer in financial wealth, although it is wealthier in real wealth.

    Their solution is for A) a Job Guarantee to end unemployment and B) sufficient government deficits to make up the leakage (Mosler wants deficits through tax cuts, Mitchell wants more spending). I’d add the suggestion we stop selling Treasurys, because once the Chinese no longer have a safe place to put their dollars they’ll think twice about running large trade surpluses with us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rob in CT:

    It makes sense to me, and it leads me directly to the question: so, isn’t a large and persistent trade deficit a really bad thing?

    I’m more in agreement with you. Every job we ship overses is that much less productive capacity and income earned here. I’d prefer to take steps to move toward a rough trade balance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Rob in CT says:

    Hmm. This is the part where I get nervous.

    You and I both know A is absolutely beyond the pale in the US. Even if I could get behind it, something like 75% of the population would reject it out of hand.

    B… you know, at some point that “electronic money on a computer screen” matters. Describing it that way is just meant to make it seem less real. Ok, sure, money’s a construct. It’s a stand-in for something. It represents real value. It’s a promise, even. So what’s the plan? Get lots of goodies in exchange for money and then stiff the sellers? Pass.

    The Treasury thing is totally Greek to me. Got a 101-level explanation handy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Rob in CT says:

    Heh, crosspost. Good to hear, Ben.

    My general sense, one that’s been building for a decade, is that at some point we’ve got to figure out how to sell more stuff to other people, while buying less of theirs. Short version, obviously.

    Wouldn’t devaluing the dollar basically do that (though OUCH for gas prices).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. anjin-san says:

    The Economist endorses Obama – good analysis:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2012/11/our-american-endorsement

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. john personna says:

    Tim Duy has about as well researched a summary of the current situation as you could hope for:

    On Coordinated Monetary and Fiscal Policy

    Unfortunately even conventional economic prescriptions are far from political possibility. We’ll probably get a muddle out of the fiscal cliff. We can only hope it isn’t too bad, and that the patient is healthy enough for the wrong medicine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. anjin-san says:

    Fox is already gearing up it’s “Obama cheated to win” meme. The internals for Romney must be pretty bad:

    Imagine going to vote for your presidential candidate and pushing the button on a touch-screen voting machine — but the “X” marks his opponent instead.

    That is what some voters in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio have reported.

    Fox News has received several complaints from voters who say they voted on touch-screen voting machines — only when they tried to select Mitt Romney, the machine indicated they had chosen President Obama. The voters in question realized the error and were able to cast ballots for their actual choice.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/02/claims-increasing-switched-votes-in-ohio/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. Rob in CT says:

    Diebold!

    Ah, memories of 2004.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rob in CT:

    1) Economist Wynne Godley, who pioneered research into sectoral balances, supported a significant devaluation on the fx markets to make U.S. goods more competitive.

    2). The only reason to run a trade surplus with another country is that you want to save in that country’s currency. China runs a surplus with the U.S. because it uses our dollars for international purchases, for fixing its own currency and for secure savings. It gets that security by buying our government bonds which are guaranteed. If we stopped issuing them then China would lose that security and be forced to save its dollars in the U.S. private sector, where there’s always associated risk.

    So what’s the plan? Get lots of goodies in exchange for money and then stiff the sellers? Pass.

    One could argue China has already been stiffed. It got trillions in dollars, but we tell them what they can and can’t do with it because the U.S. always maintains control of its own currency. We don’t let them make significant purchases in the U.S., meaning China has to put most of it in a savings account at the Department of Treasury.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  47. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @anjin-san: I’m sure these same people also complain loudly to the manager at the grocery store when they misenter their PIN during checkout.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “I think it’s possible that leaders have privately accepted a “Japanese future” as less bad than all the others.”

    One thing I’ve wondered, and even would like to ask Ultra-stimulus honks like Paul Krugman about, is…where are new jobs supposed to come from? Especially jobs paying middle class salaries? An economic structure that elevates efficiency and profit isn’t a natural job-creator. If we’re not going to have another phony bubble to either increase assets or construction jobs…what are we supposed to do?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. john personna says:

    @MBunge:

    I personally would like to see an infrastructure and investment Bill that built up from a list of good projects, rather than down from a number.

    But again we are far from political likelihood. As I read the Cliff, we will get spending reductions, and the question is where.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “I personally would like to see an infrastructure and investment Bill that built up from a list of good projects, rather than down from a number.”

    Yeah, but that’s a short term boost, even if it has long term benefits. What I’m talking about is, when you build an economy on the principles of efficiency and productivity and rising stock prices as the be all, end all…why should you expect such an economy to be any good at creating jobs? Particularly well paying jobs? Hiring more people isn’t efficient or productive and doesn’t do anything for your stock price.

    Mike

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  51. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…
    Not an unreasonable position at all…only most projects don’t move far past the idea stage until there is some promise of funding.
    Architects, engineers, etc. (me, dammit!!!) like to get paid…
    hence the myth of shovel ready projects.
    Even projects that were fully developed and then put on hold for some reason are re-visited and new materials, standards, and processes are considered.
    At the same time it’s not unreasonable to evaluate what you think you know about the economy and estimate it needs $X Billion pumped into it. Then figure out good stimulative ways to spend that $X Billion.
    Both of the above directions are far preferable, in my opinion, to just deciding the top tax rate needs to be X…based on absolutely nothing but voodoo.

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  52. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans are unhappy with good news for Obama and the country? That’s shocking!

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  53. john personna says:

    @MBunge:

    Concerns not unrelated to the “driverless cars” thread …

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  54. Andre Kenji says:

    @john personna:

    1-) The best way to build infrastructure projects is to use Public Partnerships. You curb the problem of graft, and there is a better use of technology(The same engineers and machines that built highways in the Alps were used in a highway in the mountains in São Paulo).

    2-) I think that there is a deeper problem here. There is no way that you can have high paying middle class jobs for people with no qualification in the 21 Century. That´s the problem, there is disconnect between the qualification of workers and the demands of the economy.

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  55. john personna says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    We had a bunch of pointless Public Partnerships to develop a Hydrogen Highway here in the US:

    The CaH2Net is a public-private partnership directed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), using the California Hydrogen Highway Blueprint Plan (Blueprint Plan, May 2005) as its guiding document.

    Back to “good projects” as opposed to bad, IMO.

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  56. Andre Kenji says:

    @john personna: There are very few of these projects in the United States because all these “Conservatives” are opposed to Highway Tolls. And usings PPP for things like refineries would be considered “socialism”.

    But PPP ends the problem of graft, and makes it easier to raise money for them.

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  57. Jc says:

    You know construction employment (USCONS in FRED database) averaged around 6.9 Million from 2000-2005 – it now averages around 5.5 Million. That is 1.4 Million in the total of the 155.6 Million labor force on the sidelines. If construction alone was at the 6.9 million mark you would have unemployment of 7% – and that is just construction! Think of the residual jobs that would also come back from a normal housing market, which we are soooo far from having – Yet housing is totally ignored (for the most part) – Also remember Reagan did not get unemployment under 7% until his 6th year in office and U6 did not exists back in his days…and no recent recession can be compared to this hear and now, only the great depression could be used as comparison and you can’t really do that as the world is totally different now than it was then.

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  58. john personna says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Maybe you missed my meaning. 100% of the Hydrogen Highway was waste or graft, often indistinguishable as the firms who wanted to build it lobbied for it.

    The bottom line though is that hydrogen as a fuel was always stupid, because the only economic source for hydrogen is natural gas, which can fuel cars more efficiently, directly.

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  59. Andre Kenji says:

    @john personna: You are right. I was thinking about a very specific model of PPP, concessions of highways.

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