Is The Current Economy The “New Normal?”

What if things don't ever get better?

Touching on a theme that we’ve written about here at OTB several times in the past couple years, CNBC’s Jean Chua cites analysts who argue that the continued weak performance in the job market may be an indication that we’ll have to get used to a “new normal” where the natural rate of unemployment is higher than we’ve expected in the past:

The jobless rate in the United States will never go back to where it was before the global financial crisis and people will have to get used to a “new normal” of 6-7 percent even if the economy starts revving up from where it is now, observers tell CNBC.

As the U.S. government prepares to release nonfarm payroll numbers for July on Friday, economists expect about 100,000 jobs created during the month and the unemployment rate to remain steady at 8.2 percent. 80,000 positions were added in June.

However, some investors say the consensus is too optimistic and higher structural unemployment is here to stay.

“We really have a fundamental change in the workforce,” Michael Yoshikami, Founder and CEO of Destination Wealth Management told CNBC Asia’s ”Squawk Box” on Friday.

“We should have realized that the unemployment rate is simply not going to go back where it was and we should start realizing that there is a new normal and the real unemployment rate in the United States will be 6-7 percent, where the recovery is in full steam, rather than 4 percent.”

Nonetheless, he expects job growth to be positive albeit “very sluggish” going forward.

Patrick O’Keefe, Director of Economic Research with consulting firm J.H. Cohn, agrees that job growth is simply not as robust as it should be and that unemployment will be higher than normal. He estimates that 65,000 positions were added in July and that the public sector will also continue to shrink as municipal governments cut workers.

“With respect to the trend rate of both GDP growth and employment growth, we should be looking at a slower trend rate of growth in total output and a higher natural rate of unemployment, or full employment rate, if you will,” O’Keefe said. “When you look at the indicators of demand in the economy, the output measure, income measures, the economy here is decelerating and employers are very reluctant to take on additional workers.”

There’s a tendency, of course, for people to start believing that the way things are now is the way they are always going to be. That’s the main reason that asset bubbles come into existence, because people start to believe that unusually strong price growth is something that will always exist. As a result, they make investments dependent on the fallacy that prices always go up, and pay the price in the end. The same thing is true of economic forecasting to some extent. Just because we’ve experienced three fairly bad years of economic growth, that doesn’t mean that this is how things will always be. After all, even a prolonged period of economic weakness doesn’t  necessarily tell us anything about how the future will be. Just ask the people who lived through the Great Depression only to see the economy boom in 1950’s, or the people who lived through the stagflation and high interest rates of the 70’s only to see the economy boom in the 80’s and 90’s. Five years from now, we could find ourselves in the middle of an economic boom that wipes out the labor market problems we’re experiencing right now. Predicting the future by looking at the present isn’t always a good idea.

Nonetheless, both of the analysts that Chua quotes make some good points about where things appear to be headed that are worth keeping in mind. For one thing, we haven’t seen the kind of economic growth that we would normally expect to see after a major recession and, indeed, there have been several occasions in the past three years when it’s seemed like we would slip back into another recession. With growth now below 2% and possibly heading close to 1% during the remainder of the year, that seems to be more of a likelihood now than at any time previously.

Additionally, it’s hard to see where additional jobs are going to come from.  Employers have responded to the recession and the weak recovery by finding ways to cut costs and increase worker productivity rather than taking on the expense of hiring additional workers. It’s worth noting that every new employee results in costs to employers that go far beyond base salary, especially if once you consider the costs of benefits like employer-provided health insurance. Unless an employer believes that the revenue additional labor is going to generate exceeds the cost of that labor, they’re not going to engage in significant hiring unless they absolutely need to for logistical purpose and even then it would be as limited as possible.  The increases in worker productivity that we’ve seen since the recession ended, combined with general uncertainty about the direction of the economy and policy in Washington, is likely the most prominent reason we haven’t seen large increases in hiring like we did after the 1981 recession and the recession of the early 1990s. Whether that continues into the future is something I’m not willing to take a guess at, but if it does then we may indeed be entering into an era where low unemployment means a level we would’ve been unwilling to accept a decade ago.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Not a bad piece, Doug. The two blind spots are that debt recessions are rare and cannot be compared directly with other “majors,” and the globalization is absent from the analysis.

    Beware any commentary that is built on a closed-cycle view of the American economy.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    It’s only the new normal if we are going to continue to lay off and/or stop hiring public sector employees…

    “…we haven’t seen the kind of economic growth that we would normally expect to see after a major recession…”

    …because this is the ONLY Presidency to try to grow out of a recession without adding Public Sector jobs….we slashed 9000 last month alone.
    http://www.epi.org/publication/public-sector-job-losses-unprecedented-drag/
    So…if we are to live in the world THAT YOU ASKED FOR…yeah this is the new normal…I hope you like it.
    But more likely Romney will be elected, the reflexively obstructionist congress will immediately stop being reflexively obstructionist, and we will start spending money and growing Government like we always do…the Republicans plan will have worked…and we will get back on track.

  3. legion says:

    In a word, no.
    For the past 30 years, as worker productivity (and resultant company profitability) have gone steadily upward, worker salary has remained completely stagnant. That snowballing profit has gone, to a greater or lesser extent, into increased executive compensation and overseas corporate assets & accounts. When people and companies do this, they are surgically removing currency from the economy – it doesn’t do the rest of the country any good at all. And it’s simply not sustainable. We’ve already reached the point where average workers have started to hit the wall on “disposable income” – people simply can’t afford much in the way of luxuries any more; the real drag on our economy throughout this recession has been a drop in demand. Some of the largest companies have pioneered new and destructively reprehensible ways to make money without consumers (see: the manipulation of LIBOR rates), but even that’s a house of cards – just like the housing bubble, eventually people will notice that there’s no actual assets backing the trillions in liquid funds in tax havens across the globe.

    This a system built entirely on greed – not production – and it will fail loudly.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I’m actually worried that the “new normal” might not kick in for a decade or so and that it’ll be a lot worse than the current normal.

    Think about how bad things are on Main Street right now. Then think about the fact that interest rates have been pushed down to historically low levels. Then postulate that overall inflation by historical standards still is benign. Well, interest rates have nowhere to go but up. Inflation pretty much has nowhere to go but up. So if GDP growth and job growth don’t amp up over the next decade then the only plausible expectation is that the country by then truly will become FUBAR.

    Perhaps the most ghastly irony is that with a stroke of a pen we could add millions of sustainable and high-paying jobs tied to the repressed energy sector of the economy. Don’t hold your breath, though, as there are those with money and influence who actually would prefer to see the nation fail.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    It’s certainly never going to be the same. Some of it relates to the price of oil. Our economy was built on cheap oil and we’ve pumped it all. That said transportation costs are already bring some manufacturing jobs back. The best example is steel where it’s simply become too expensive to ship our old cars to China and ship them back as rolled steel. As ground transportation becomes too expensive the centralized manufacturing facility may not be as viable.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin: I don’t see Romney getting elected and in fact think he will get beat by 100 EVs or more. The House will remain in Republican hands and the Senate is too close to call. The result is nothing will be done

  7. @this:

    Kind of left to guess what the down-voter was confused about.

    Balance Sheet Recession Basics – Not Your Father’s Economic Cycle

    Europe, UK and the US are all currently mired in a Balance Sheet Recession (BSR). A term for the current “rare disease” the global economy is suffering from coined by Richard Koo in his seminal book “The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics” where he provides a blueprint for our current malaise and provides what I think is the most comprehensive solution to date.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    We have cut over 600,000+/- public sector jobs, and failed to hire another 500,000+/- that would of been hired in the OLD NORMAL economy.
    Imagine, if you would for a moment, just eliminating the cities of Boston, MA and Raleigh, NC. right in the middle of a recovery.
    Do you think that might hold back things a little bit?
    But again…you shouldn’t lament that which you ask for.

    http://washingtonpolicywatch.org/2012/07/26/public-sector-austerity-holding-back-economic-recovery/

  9. @Tsar Nicholas:

    Perhaps the most ghastly irony is that with a stroke of a pen we could add millions of sustainable and high-paying jobs tied to the repressed energy sector of the economy. Don’t hold your breath, though, as there are those with money and influence who actually would prefer to see the nation fail.

    Just curious, how would you feel about importing Chinese oil workers to do those jobs? They’ll work for a buck or two an hour.

    That’s not snark because what you are relying on, with free trade and restricted immigration, is that certain jobs will just be tied to the land. You hope there are enough “tied” jobs that all the ones we send overseas won’t matter.

    It’s not a very consistent philosophy, rather than setting policy you hope luck will break with enough non-exportable jobs to make things ok.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @ Ron…
    I wish I could agree…but the Nation that elected Bush43 twice is a Nation that will be easily fooled by Slick Willard.

    I have seen the EV situation and linked to them ealier today on another thread.
    http://election.princeton.edu/
    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/

    Unfortunately if people like Doug and James can be so easily fooled…the rest of the electorate doesn’t stand a chance against the Etch-a-Sketch.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    “…Perhaps the most ghastly irony is that with a stroke of a pen we could add millions of sustainable and high-paying jobs tied to the repressed energy sector of the economy…”

    How exactly would that work???

  12. @C. Clavin:

    He wants to abolish the EPA.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    “We really have a fundamental change in the workforce,” Michael Yoshikami, Founder and CEO of Destination Wealth Management told CNBC Asia’s ”Squawk Box” on Friday.
    “We should have realized that the unemployment rate is simply not going to go back where it was and we should start realizing that there is a new normal and the real unemployment rate in the United States will be 6-7 percent, where the recovery is in full steam, rather than 4 percent.

    I honestly believe this to be a reasonable assessment of where the economy is going for the 3 to 5 years, at least.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Don’t hold your breath, though, as there are those with money and influence who actually would prefer to see the nation fail.

    These days, “those’ happen to be the Republican House and Senator McConnell.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…
    Seriously?
    That’s what he is talking about?
    Why did I bother…

  16. JKB says:

    Perhaps we’ll rebound to here but if this is the new normal there is a lot of adjustment to happen. First, a realignment of the public sector pensions especially in blue states (already happening to some extent), also, a collapse of the high priced university education since it creates unserviceable debt with little economic value improvement for so many, forced rollback of the crippling regulations on the environment and hiring, and other assorted luxuries to be disposed of. After those adjustments, we’ll see where we are at.

    Let’s face it, you can’t pay pensions without taxpayers working. You are a fool to go into debt for a college degree if you’ve a low prospect of employment (and high tax burden) that will permit repayment. When it comes right down to it, people choose economic survival over the environment and also, over dubious worker protections. The savings are running dry, if we don’t get some economic rain soon, people are going to start looking for fundamental changes to survive. Sure they could go for strongman rule but without transforming us into a petro-state, where’s the cash going to come from if people don’t feel free to profit from their ideas and hard work? Remember Uncle Sam is tapped out and living on the backs of the Chinese workers.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    “…Remember Uncle Sam is tapped out and living on the backs of the Chinese workers…”

    JKB fires up the “we can’t afford retirement, education, or clean air and water, because we gave all the money away in tax breaks for the wealthy” argument.
    Only he/she won’t admit that’s the argument they are making.
    But it is. That’s exactly the argument he/she is making.

  18. David M says:

    @C. Clavin:

    JKB fires up the “we can’t afford retirement, education, or clean air and water, because we gave all the money away in tax breaks for the wealthy” argument.
    Only he/she won’t admit that’s the argument they are making.
    But it is. That’s exactly the argument he/she is making.

    That sums up the modern GOP pretty well. They always find money for tax cuts for the rich and defense spending, never for anything else.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: well, if you get rid of the environmental and food protection, soon we’ll be living in a place like China….hope you like getting your cooking oil recycled from stuff scooped out of the gutter. And your soy sauce made from rendered hair.

    Me, I like to see blue skies, thankyouverymuch. Your argument about regulations holding back the economy has been used to argue against a) anti-pollution requirements b)fire codes c) limitations on child labor, d) limitations on workers working more than 80 hours a week. (It’s also been used to argue against safety codes in mine shafts.)

    I ask, do you really want to live in the society that would be produced? And eat the food that would be available?

  20. legion says:

    @C. Clavin:
    @David M:
    The way you can tell is this:

    Let’s face it, you can’t pay pensions without taxpayers working.

    So the obvious (to JKB and the GOP) answer is not get more working taxpayers, but instead just cut pensions. Because once you retire & are no longer contributing directly to the economy, you should die. Brilliant.

  21. Ben Wolf says:

    Doug, there is no natual rate of unemployment. Friedman and Phelps theorized its existence but never constructed a model or suggested a way to identity or forecast it. It isn’t supported empirically.

    What we’re experiencing now is the proclivity of a capitalist economy toward under-employment. This results from the private sector’s desire to save and accumulate financial wealth. Saving reduces spending which reduces incomes which creates unemployment.

  22. wr says:

    @JKB: Shorter JKB: We should be like Mexico!

  23. stonetools says:

    This is really not the New Normal. Whats needed is a second round of stimulus. Krugman is good on this.

  24. SKI says:

    With a shrinking working-age population (the result of boomer retirement and continued restrictions on immigration), the unemployment rate will come down. Whether we can afford the ride is a different issue.

  25. JKB says:

    My point for those with a lack of critical thinking skills, is that it is foolish to think such levels of unemployment would be accepted without the populace demanding or making adjustments. Of course, they might just try new representation by politicians who aren’t delusional about failed economic ideas.

  26. JKB says:

    Walter Russell Mead explains it better in relation to the the much yearned for global warming and desire to ration carbon:

    The second reason why greens should give thanks for shale is that environmentalism is a luxury good. People must survive and they will survive by any means necessary. But they would much rather thrive than merely survive, and if they can arrange matters better, they will. A poor society near the edge of survival will dump the industrial waste in the river without a second thought. It will burn coal and choke in the resulting smog if it has nothing else to burn.

    Politics in an age of survival is ugly and practical. It has to be. The best leader is the one who can cut out all the fluff and the folderol and keep you alive through the winter. During the Battle of Leningrad, people burned priceless antiques to stay alive for just one more night.

    So if you think there won’t be changes if unemployment remains high…

  27. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Of course, they might just try new representation by politicians who aren’t delusional about failed economic ideas.

    Who are you planning to vote for? Romney? The guy who embraces the GOP policies that left us on the brink of a depression?

    those with a lack of critical thinking skills

    Irony meter redlining…

  28. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: Who are you planning to vote for? Romney? The guy who embraces the GOP policies that left us on the brink of a depression?

    Well, Obama’s and the Dems are a failure. You say Romney won’t make substantial improvement so I guess we really are headed for this

    The Whole Country May Soon Look Like These American Wastelands

    But fear not, there is a plan for Detroit

    Derelict areas of Detroit face being taken over by hordes of ‘flesh and brain-eating zombies’ if an ambitious business plan takes off.
    Entrepreneur Mark Siwak wants to create live-action terror theme park ‘Z World’ on Motor City’s run-down and abandoned streets.
    Customers would pay to be chased by professional actors and try to seek shelter in ghostly homes, factories and businesses.

    But sadly, the Obama has been of no help to his hometown, Chicago:

    “”This is a block-to-block war here, a different dynasty on every street,” said a dreadlocked young man heavily inked in gang tattoos who calls himself “Killer”.

    All the black brothers just want to get rich, but we got no jobs and no hope. We want the violence to stop but you ain’t safe if you ain’t got your pistol with you. Too many friends, too many men are being killed. We don’t even cry at funerals no -more. Nobody expects to live past 21 here.”

  29. anjin-san says:

    Well, Obama’s and the Dems are a failure

    Right. When Obama took office, we were losing 500K jobs a month. That’s turned around and we have added 4.5 million. The DOW is up, what, 60% under Obama? I know my 401K has had some very good years.

    Sorry we don’t have any magic ponies to make things all better instantly after the Bush catastrophe, but he did us a hole that was about as deep as the grand canyon. It’s a long climb out.

    Oh, and in other news, there were depressed urban areas and gangs before Obama. Rush never told you that?

  30. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Adding 50K a month to the social security disability roles is the economic equivalent of hiring more government employees. When the government is spending $4 trillion a year, it is hard to argue that there is any form of austerity occurring.

    Do you really think that any country can tax ans spend their way to prosperity.

  31. Rick DeMent says:

    I happen to know that Detroit was a promised land of milk and honey and mana from the skis before Obama took office.

  32. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Dude, it’s the post-modern world. How does it feel? It feels like Obama is a failure. Perhaps you are in his favored few and don’t feel it like the rest of the country. In fact, as the feature article points out, we, even the whole world, could be in for a permanent decline with higher unemployment and fewer hopes for the future.

    @Rick DeMent: I had heard that about Detroit. I believe it was about 60 years before Obama took office.

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I know that Detroit has been a blue city for decades, and Detroit refuse to think about demographics, and the Detroit refused to plan for the future.

    When you look at the Democrats today, they have the same refusal to think about demographics and the same refusal to think about the future.

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @ Superdestroyer….
    We have historically low effective tax rates. We have a huge deficit driven primarily by the un-paid for Bush Tax Cuts. Coincidence?
    In every recession going back to at least Reagan we have grown Government during the recovery. This time we are not, and we have a slow recovery. Coincidence?
    Stupid platitudes like we can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity and a $4T budget doesn’t amount to austerity may make you feel like you are morally superior…but it’s an illusion…they have absolutely nothing to do with our reality. And if the Republican side of the political system is unwilling to embrace the real world…then this is the new normal.

  35. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…

    “…In fact, as the feature article points out, we, even the whole world, could be in for a permanent decline with higher unemployment and fewer hopes for the future…”

    What that describes is the end result of 30 years of a failed economic experiment…the Republicans fetishization of supply-side economics. What’s really comical is that after f’ing everything up…Republicans continue to think they are the only ones with any idea how to fix it.

  36. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: Republicans continue to think they are the only ones with any idea how to fix it.

    Hey, Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, the Presidency in 2008, didn’t lose the House until 2010. If they’ve got an idea how to fix it, I would suggest getting to it. Oh, that’s right, the Democrat controlled Senate has refused to pass a budget for 3 years. Obama was given an unprecedented stimulus which he promptly funneled to his cronies who are now busy taking their “stimulus babies” through bankruptcy.

    All I can say, if Obama and his minions have a better idea how to ‘fix it’, now would be the time to demonstrate that.

  37. @JKB:

    Hey, Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, the Presidency in 2008, didn’t lose the House until 2010. If they’ve got an idea how to fix it, I would suggest getting to it.

    That is the best the Republicans have, and it is pretty weak.

    They are saying hey, if you can’t fix the worst recession since 1939 in 2 years, what good are you?

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Hey, Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, the Presidency in 2008, didn’t lose the House until 2010

    So according to your logic, the GOP Congress is to blame for the tepid recovery.

    Thanks for playing.

  39. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Hey, Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, the Presidency in 2008, didn’t lose the House until 2010. If they’ve got an idea how to fix it, I would suggest getting to it.

    The 2008 collapse of the financial and housing markets caused the loss of nearly $14 Trillion in wealth and income from our economy, and it’s not coming back anytime soon. The fact that we’ve had anemic economic growth instead of deep recession, given the worst economic collapse in 80 years, is somewhat encouraging.

    So what is the Republican plan, other than to hate deficit spending? Oh .. it’s cut the top tax bracket rate from 34% to 25% while increasing defense spending, and according to their own numbers, increase the deficit. It seems that Republicans do not care about deficits when they’re governing.

  40. JKB says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Well, since you’ve offered nothing substantive to this discussion so far other than you believe unemployment will remain high and you don’t like Republicans, perhaps you will enlighten us with your projections for how the populace will react to the “new normal”? Maybe offer some hypothesis as to why they populace will continue to support Obama policies that are not bringing the promised relief? Or perhaps, you have new ideas from whole cloth you will dazzle us with?

    So far, as best I can tell, the plan for those opposed to Republicans is to spend a lot more money on new Stimulus after the last one failed to do much but enrich Democrat cronies, to put more people on the dole and seek to limit the ROI by taxing away any profits made by those without “connections.”

    Perhaps those here will tell us the Obama master plan and give us the hope promised 4 long years ago?

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    The minute I see…

    “…Oh, that’s right, the Democrat controlled Senate has refused to pass a budget for 3 years…”

    …I stop reading because, I realize the author is clueless and, any further discussion is pointless.
    I suggest you become familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect and then look inward.

  42. anjin-san says:

    Stimulus after the last one failed to do much but enrich Democrat cronies, to put more people on the dole and seek to limit the ROI by taxing away any profits made by those without “connections

    You should get out of the Foxverse more often. In the SF Bay Area, stimulus funds have been used for any number of infrastructure projects, including three critical bridge, road, and tunnel projects – the benefits of which will be felt for at least 50 years.

  43. David M says:

    @JKB:

    the last [stimulus] failed to do much but enrich Democrat cronies

    That’s such obvious nonsense, why/how do you expect people to take that seriously?

  44. JKB says:

    I notice no one is offering a view of the impact of a “new normal” in unemployment from the Democrat/Left/Progressive side.

    Do you not think the populace will adjust?

    Do you think you can control their reaction?

    Do you believe they will just go all-Democrat, all-the-time?

    How do you expect the welfare state to continue with decreased revenues and increased claims?

    Please, offer us you Progressive views on the impact of the “new normal”

  45. This Guy says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I’d be wary of any fix that results from the “stroke of a pen.” The last thing we need is short term solutions.

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    You are starting to sound like someone who has been doing shots of Nyquil…

  47. anjin-san says:
  48. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Well, since you’ve offered nothing substantive to this discussion so far other than you believe unemployment will remain high and you don’t like Republicans, perhaps you will enlighten us with your projections for how the populace will react to the “new normal”

    Please, your value-added to this discussion is essentially to say that Romney will get us out of this by cutting taxes and increasing defense spending.

    Why should I apologize for believing that we will be in a “new normal” with higher baseline unemployment for the next few years – the 2008 crash created that much damage.

  49. legion says:

    @JKB:

    I notice no one is offering a view of the impact of a “new normal” in unemployment from the Democrat/Left/Progressive side.

    Actually, if this is a “new normal”, it would wind up being _great_ for Democrats, at least in the immediate future. As average length of unemployment continues to stay in the 10-12 month range, and business profits (and executive compensation) continue to rise, and the GOP continues to staunchly do _anything_ that shifts society’s burdens off of the already beaten-down and bankrupted, Dem voter rolls will _skyrocket_. The GOP would cease to be anything other than an utterly transparent boys club for wannabe aristocrats.

    If Democrats were as treasonously greedy and self-involved as Republicans, we would be clamoring to support the introduction of economic plans like Romney’s and Ryan’s. It’d be great for us. But it would destroy the country inside of a generation.

    There are still some people who actually love this country and are willing to put its good ahead of their own. And not a single one of those people is a Republican politician.

  50. superdestroyer says:

    @legion:

    At least you admit that Democrats benefit from poverty. More government programs, more government spending, more people totally dependent on the government. That is why Democrats support open borders. That is why Democrats are against academic education and in favor social engineering. That is why Democrats are against healthcare jobs, manufacturing jobs, STEM jobs. Middle class people working in the private sector should not be interested in the party of redistribution, open borders, and poverty.

  51. @superdestroyer:

    You’ve reduced yourself to “we can’t help people, because they might thank us for it.”

  52. bill says:

    and people want 4 more years of this? really?