Solid November Jobs Growth Seems To Guarantee Higher Interest Rates In December
Another month of solid but not spectacular jobs growth seems to guarantee that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates this month.
The November Jobs Report showed that the jobs market continues to improve, making a Federal Reserve Board rate hike later this month more and more likely:
The unemployment rate declined to 4.6 percent in November, and total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 178,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.
In November, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 4.6 percent, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 387,000 to 7.4 million. Both measures had shown little movement, on net, from August 2015 through October 2016. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men declined to 4.3 percent in November. The rates for adult women (4.2 percent), teenagers (15.2 percent), Whites (4.2 percent), Blacks (8.1 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.7 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs edged down by 194,000 to 3.6 million in November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.9 million and accounted for 24.8 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 98,000. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)
The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, changed little in November, and the employment-population ratio held at 59.7 percent. These measures have shown little movement in recent months. (See table A-1.)
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 178,000 in November. Thus far in 2016, employment growth has averaged 180,000 per month, compared with an average monthly increase of 229,000 in 2015. In November, employment gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care. (See table B-1.)
Employment in professional and business services rose by 63,000 in November and has risen by 571,000 over the year. Over the month, accounting and bookkeeping services added 18,000 jobs. Employment continued to trend up in administrative and support services (+36,000), computer systems design and related services (+5,000), and management and technical consulting services (+4,000).
Health care employment rose by 28,000 in November. Within the industry, employment growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (+22,000). Over the past 12 months, health care has added 407,000 jobs.
Employment in construction continued on its recent upward trend in November (+19,000), with a gain in residential specialty trade contractors (+15,000). Over the past 3 months, construction has added 59,000 jobs, largely in residential construction.
Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.
Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the jobs number for September was revised upward from +191,000 to +208,000, and October was revised downward from +161,000 to +142,000, for total downward revisions of -2,000 new jobs created. This means that job growth over the past three months has averaged +176,000 new jobs, which is the same as the three-month average we saw last month. Since the start of the year, Since the start of the year, the BLS has reported that 2,026,000 new jobs have created, for a monthly average of +184,000, which represents an increase in the year-to-date average over last month. Deeper into the report, we see that labor force participation and long-term unemployment declined slightly, which partly explains the drop in the topline unemployment number from 4.9% to 4 6%. Additionally, the long-term unemployment rate dropped to an eight-year low of 9.3%, from 9.5%. Looking beyond the jobs numbers, this month’s report showed solid wage growth continuing, which has been one of the positive parts of the economic statistics that have come out this year. For the month, average hourly earnings increased 3 cents to $25.89, which represents a 2.5% rise over the past year. The average hourly workweek, meanwhile, was largely unchanged across the board. Wage growth has been one of the most positive areas for 2016, and we’re now at the point where wage growth has increased at its strongest pace since the end of the Great Recession.
With the election behind us, the primary focus of analysists is what impact these numbers will have on the Federal Reserve’s upcoming decision on interest rates:
The government reported on Friday that employers added 178,000 workers in November, a solid gain that clears the way for the Federal Reserve to raise the benchmark interest rate when it meets later this month.
The official unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in more than nine years, at 4.6 percent, from 4.9 percent the month before. But average hourly earnings ticked down 0.1 percent.
Revisions to the September and October data removed 2,000 jobs from the employment gains for those months. Over the past three months, increases have averaged 176,000.
“A solid report but not quite as good as the headline numbers would indicate,” said Gus Faucher, deputy chief economist at PNC said. “There’s mixed news there.”
While payroll additions were steady, he said the drop in hourly earnings offset some previous gains. Also, he noted, the substantial drop in the unemployment rate “came more from a decline in the labor force, more than an increase in household employment.”
For all the arguments about the health of the economy during the presidential race, this latest snapshot of American workers does not radically shift the outlook one way or the other.
“It’s kind of more of the same,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics, said, referring to the labor market’s performance over the past year. “There’s been strong growth in employment.”
Considering the jobs gains in 2016, Mr. O’Sullivan noted that at this point, the “bar isn’t very high” for the central bank to follow through with a rate increase, which would be the first in a year.
While Donald J. Trump won the presidential race last month with promises to create more jobs, it is too soon for any election results to have affected the overall employment picture. The Labor Department surveyed employers about changes in their payrolls just a few days after the vote took place.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with the election,” said Gus Faucher, deputy chief economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh.
The task of slicing the unemployment rate in half from its recession high of 10 percent has taken seven years.
“This is not something that happens overnight,” said Jonas Prising, chairman and chief executive of the ManpowerGroup, one of the largest recruiters in the United States and abroad.
The tightening labor market, after a frustrating delay, has started to bump wages above the rate of inflation. Housing prices are up, and consumers are expressing the highest levels of confidence in nearly a decade. The American economy grew by a healthy 3.2 percent annual rate during the third quarter of this year.
Such progress led members of the Federal Reserve to conclude at last month’s meeting that the case for an increase in the benchmark rate had been “strengthened,” and that they would be ready to move “so long as incoming data provided some further evidence of continued progress.”
Yet for all the statistical improvements, tens of millions of workers continue to feel that the recovery has passed them by. Those without skills are relegated to low-paying positions without steady schedules, security and benefits. Breadwinners who once occupied well-compensated manufacturing jobs are unwilling to settle for minimum-wage service jobs.
“There is a bifurcation of the work force,” Mr. Prising of Manpower said. In that sense, the overall average unemployment rate is misleading. People with the right skills who are able to take advantage of the technology revolution, globalization and other shifts in the economy have seen their jobless rates fall below pre-recession levels.
For others, the prospects do not look good. “There used to be part of work force that had well-paying jobs that were low or unskilled,” Mr. Prising said. “Those kinds of jobs are very difficult to find today.”
“Exactly this same polarization of the work force with the same concerns about the future is what’s playing out in all developed countries,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, argues that this latest report virtually guarantees that we’ll see at least a modest increase in interest rates later this month:
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has talked recently about the benefits of running a “high-pressure economy,” one in which officials allow the strong labor market to push down the unemployment rate and drive up wages.
Friday’s jobs report suggests that’s exactly what she’s getting.
Employers added 178,000 jobs in November, right around expectations. But the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%—its lowest level in nine years—as the labor market has tightened. That has slowly driven up wages. Average hourly earnings were up 2.5% in November over the previous year.
The report almost certainly seals an increase in short-term interest rates when the Fed meets Dec. 13-14.
Beyond that, though, the picture is murkier. Ms. Yellen’s goal in running the economy hot has been to draw down labor-market slack by attracting back discouraged workers who have given up on finding a suitable job.
But despite robust hiring, Friday’s report suggests there remains plenty of slack in the labor market. A broader measure of the unemployment rate, which counts part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs and marginally attached workers, remains elevated at 9.3%, although it has fallen in recent months.
As I’ve said before, even with the improving economy as evidenced by numbers such as this report the idea that the economy is anywhere close to the kind of overheating that would justify raising interest rates seems kind of silly. For every month or two of strong economic news we see, we get a few months that show evidence that there is still a lot of sluggishness in the economy that could potentially be enhanced by higher borrowing costs. We’ve also seen in recent years that the economy is vulnerable to shocks from something as common as bad weather in the winter. Finally, we have no idea what impact the policies of the Trump Administration are going to have on the economy, especially when it comes to issues such as international trade and foreign policy. Given that, the Federal Reserve’s obsession with an overheating economy that needs to be cooled down with higher interest rates is a puzzling one to say the very least.
Of course, if the Fed does raise rates this month it’s likely that it will be the same type of modest increase that we saw at the end of last year. For the most part, that increase does not appear to have had a significant negative impact on the economy or on the stock and bond markets, so perhaps a similar increase now will have a similarly limited impact on the economy. Of course, on the other hand, it’s also true that the economy in 2016 proved not to be strong enough to justify the marginal rate increases throughout the year that the board had planned to implement. This is the reason why we haven’t seen an increase since the December 2015. At the very least, that tells us that the Fed’s forecast of economic activity for 2016 was far more optimistic than it turned out to be in reality. Given that, the danger that the economy could again be pushed into sluggishness by another increase is very real. This month’s jobs report is a prime example of why caution is advisable. While it may show solid growth, it’s not exactly a strong number and certainly not evidence that the economy is in any danger of overheating in the near future. The Federal Reserve ought to be careful about how it proceeds.
Since 2009, the Federal Reserve has been very steady with respect to interest rates, overall economic growth, and the resulting employment rates.
Is inflation paranoia for the economic elite what global warming denialism is for right wingers? Neither seems to understand why they believe what they believe.
I think a 25bp interest rate hike is not going to send us into oblivion. Its about normalizing interest rates. The effective federal funds rate is currently .41 – In an economy as solid as it is right now, that is too low. What tools would the fed have to help a bad economy if rates are near zero at that time? It is not that fragile now – I don’t get why we are so afraid of a small hike
I’m not sure about the economic elite, but many on the Right in general have been saying/predicting for the past 7 years that the deficit spending since 2009 will be the cause of very high rates of inflation.
Conservatives have been predicting doom in a lot of areas since 2009. I wonder why?
Inflation paranoia goes farther back than that. I remember back in the 90s when the stock market would take a dive at any good news for the broader economy out of fear the Fed would raise interest rates. The reality is that inflation hasn’t been even a minor problem for 30 years.
@MBunge: Don’t forget that the WSJ can have an article hyperventilating over the “high cost of capital due to the interest rates” on one page, and on the facing page scream about how the “horribly low” interest rates are dooming retirees with their portfolios stuffed with bonds to living off cat food.
“Whatever it is, it’s wrong!” seems to be their motto.
You should ask yourselves why inflation hasn’t been an issue before starting up the cheering machine.
In any event, it must be the “solid jobs growth” that propelled Hillary Clinton to victory. I also note that AP, like you guys no doubt soon will, magically discovered in its reporting that the decline in the unemployment rate was due to an abysmal labor force participation rate, that part time jobs and two jobs held are the norm, wages remain weak and the jobs are disproportionately coming from a sector that is bankrupting many. I guarantee the reporting won’t be so rosy over tepid jobs in a Trump administration. Nor will the commentary here.
Lastly, look at the bond market. There’s a lot more than the jobs number involved with Fed policy.
@Jc: Investors and traders are not rational. They’re sentimental and capricious no matter how much it costs them. That includes every supposed financial wizard you’ll see on television.
@Guarneri: Historically, inflation moves with the FF rate rather than inversely as conventional wisdom assumes. So inflation is low because over the last eight years the Fed has been stepping on the brake when it thought it was stepping on the gas.
@Guarneri: And you think that Savior Trump will solve matters?
@Ben Wolf: Yeah, like the bond damage after the election and subsequent move to certain blue chip sectors, and out of tech all over SPECULATION of what is to come with the next administration. Place your bets everyone!
The context for assessing Trump vis-à-vis job reports will be associated with his promise to create 25 million jobs, or about 240,000 per month over a 2-term presidency. This is very possible if the economy does not experience a significant recession on his watch.
Another context is that the 2008 crash caused the loss of 8 to 9 million jobs, at the time of Obama’s inauguration we were losing jobs at a rate of over 750,000 per month. The net increase in jobs during the Obama administration, which includes the very negative reports in 2009, is about 16 million. Absent the catastrophic tailspin that carried over through 2009 President Obama’s job reports would have been even more solid than they have been over the past 6 years..
No…it was racists like you that drove your Cheeto-Jesus to a narrow EC victory.
@C. Clavin: Maybe if you and your ilk took some time between your Great Dane and Bullmastiff to get up off your knees and vote, Hypery Clinton would have won.
How did Hillary (Hypery is so clever) get 2.5 million more votes than Donald Trump – the preference of people of you and your ilk, the ones who are still celebrating Trump’s victory by fluffing FBI Director James Comey?
Jack..are you still beating your Mexican wife?
@C. Clavin: Are you still boning (do you pitch or catch?) your dogs?
Yeah, in case you haven’t heard, the popular vote and $7 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Nothing else.
Oh yeah. So, tell me, why is Trump so ticked off about the recounts in those 3 states?
@al-Alameda: Blah, blah, blah. The election is over and Trump is your president. Suck it up Buttercup.
I would like to see some figures on inflation. While too much inflation is bed, not enough can also be harmful
If there is deflation there can be serious problems. So a little inflation is needed.
The Federal Reserve needs to provide a clear, simple explanation of why interest rate increases are needed.
@Tyrell: As said, look at the screeching the WSJ does. “Hidden Inflation” has taken the place of Commies Under The Bed.
My my my…..
P.S. I must be an awful person, because this just makes me giggle.
If I ever stop visiting this site, it will be because of unhelpful exchanges like this.
@al-Alameda: so crappy job growth/economic outlooks have been with us during obama’s entire reign? duh, and his response (if anyone ever had the nerve to ask him……i mean outside of fox) always seemed to be “bush”.
and notice how the national debt has not bee an issue with the msm for the last 8 yrs either- yes, the same one that obama called “unpatriotic” back in what, 2008? now that it;s doubled unde his tenure, there’s not a peep about it still.
in a nutshell, the entire obama presidency has been on fed reserve life support………and nobody seemed to notice/care as long as he’s happy.
Bill, you really need to move off those fact-free talking points.
A net total of 16 million jobs have been added during his administration, and this is coming off the worst economic crash since the Great Depression.
Actually, stimulus spending, and not austerity, is exactly what is called for in a period of severe recession. And, as you know, the annual deficit as a percentage of GDP has been declining every year since 2010.
Obama can be criticized for some things but overall economic performance since the crash of 2008 is not one of them. History will judge Barack Obama favorably as far as the economy goes.
“…as the labor market has tightened. That has slowly driven up wages.”
Can’t have wages going up, got to put the stopper on that.
And notice how the national debt will no longer be an issue for Republicans or for bill now that a Republican is president, no matter now big it gets.
I’m feeling magnanimous today, I accept Trump as my president in the same manner that Republicans accepted Barack Obama as their president, although I won’t go so far as to suggest, as some experts have, that Trump was actually born in Russia.
Well, I’m sure this is going to have an interesting effect on U.S.-Chinese relations…..
Hold on to your seats, boys–it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
One thing that needs to happen is transparency of the Federal Reserve. This would include a complete audit (stalled in Congress, opposed by Senator Warren of all people ), books to be open to the public, meetings televised.
Enough of the secret cabal stuff.
Seriously, what secret cabal?
I don’t think there is a chance in hell there won’t be a recession. The business cycle hasn’t been repealed.
The problem with all you guys interpreting statistics is you want to take as a starting point an extreme trough period. And Obama had nothing to do with arresting the process. The policy actions preceded him. If it makes you feel better to cite bogus analysis it’s still a free country. Go ahead. But we just had a pocketbook election and people know that this economy stinks. And they voted their pocketbooks. Tell everyone they are stupid or don’t know what’s good for them if you like. Double down on your leftward approach for all I care. As Europe stalled before us, and as America stalled thereafter, it’s been by listening to the liberal/Democrats and establishment Republicans. Suit yourselves. But be prepared to enjoy your long walk in the wilderness. It didn’t, and doesn’t, work.
Talking about stupidity….
A bit OT, but Orangina really needs to hire a Secretary of State like, right now. The dumbass is talking to foreign leaders and already screwing up foreign policy before he’s even sworn in. He’s managed to baffle and annoy the two most populous nations on earth in two days. India will get over it, but China will get a pound of flesh from this.
I might too if I could get through the paywall. Care to synopsize?
@grumpy realist: Trump seems to be having problems cultivating loyalty, too.
@Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: My link went to internet heaven.
@Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Link:
Sorry, I can’t seem to make it hot.
Writes the fella who often cites Zero Hedge as a source…
Uh huh…let us not forget Trump’s racist and bigoted appeals…they certainly helped him quite a bit…
As if Trump and his band of crony capitalist deplorables will bring success and prosperity to anyone in this country other than the wealthy…
Thanks for the comic relief of the day…
@michael reynolds: China will get a pound of flesh from this.
While Trump probably didn’t know what he was doing, sometimes you can only be right because you don’t know how wrong you are. I don’t really understand the foreign policy consensus of “Hey! Let’s take this brutal, repressive tyranny and make them the centerpiece of the global economy. What could possibly go wrong?”
We didn’t make them anything. They’re 1.5 billion people who decided one day to join reality and jump in the pool. They are a power. They aren’t us yet, but they’re definitely number 2.
@michael reynolds: They’re 1.5 billion people who decided one day to join reality and jump in the pool
They are also a brutal, repressive tyranny whose dictators care about nothing more than maintaining their own grip on power. Russia doesn’t have 1.5 billion people but they do have resources and a market to be exploited, yet our foreign policy establishment takes a markedly different approach to Russia than it does to China.
Frankly, our policies toward China are largely inexplicable. It’s as if we still think the Cold War is ongoing and remain desperate to avoid a Sino-Soviet alliance. If China is going to be a great power, that makes it even more important that we have an intelligent and intelligible strategy for them instead of the current Underpants Gnome thinking of…
1. Normalize China.
I can understand being concerned that Trump has endangered the ludicrous fiction we use to cover up the reality of who runs mainland China, but it is long past time we start thinking about how that reality needs to change.
@MBunge: “Is inflation paranoia for the economic elite what global warming denialism is for right wingers? Neither seems to understand why they believe what they believe.”
If you own bonds, inflation is a serious risk. If you have loaned money at fixed interest rates, inflation is a serious risk.
Also the right is focused on inflation, rather than a depression. Even the frikkin’ Germans seem to have a lasting memory of the Weimar hyperinflation of the 1920’s (for a few years), which seem to override that whole Great Depression/NazismWWII/rubled cities and occupation.
And goldbuggery is widespread on the right.
@al-Alameda: “I’m not sure about the economic elite, but many on the Right in general have been saying/predicting for the past 7 years that the deficit spending since 2009 will be the cause of very high rates of inflation.
Don’t worry, though, because that will end in January, 2017. Suddenly massive deficits will be prudent business excellence.
@al-Alameda: really, so the “unpatriotic ” debt/ interest rate thing isn’t factual?! maybe in the “facts are racist” world you exist in, but then again you’re spouting extremely lame ” jobs growth ” stats that are laughable at best, denigrating at worst.
Well, we know what the President-elect thinks about that.
Mike, don’t do this to yourself. You’ve got four years of trying to rationalize and justify the abject incompetence and unteachable stupidity of your Clown in Chief. You need to find a way to slow your descent.
Your comment was gibberish. What are you talking about? How is this an Underpants Gnome situation? And of course we’re still worried about a China-Russia entente, the geography hasn’t changed and the numbers have gotten worse if anything.
Now it seems as if someone from the Trump group was talking to Taiwanese officials weeks ago about building Trump hotels at the newly-planned Taiwanese airport. And now, hey presto, Orangina’s on the phone, pissing off the PRC.
Trump is already the most corrupt president in modern history and he’s not even in office yet. He’s charging us rent at his vulgar NYC building, he’s profiting directly from foreign governments that are happy to extend the corruption with which they are familiar back home. And he’s simultaneously speaking as POTUS and pimping his business to foreign leaders.
Future MBunge rationalizations:
1) Who cares about Estonia?
2) Also Latvia and Lithuania.
3) And why shouldn’t we destroy public schools and substitute schools run by snake handlers?
4) War with Iran? Um. . . that’s a good thing really, ’cause hostages way back when.
5) Of course it’s up to Japan to deal with North Korea.
6) It’s purely a coincidence that a Trump hotel is going up in Pyongyang.
7) Why shouldn’t Trump call the Pope to complain about a church that’s blocking a Trump resort?
8) A reality TV show to pick Melania’s younger replacement? What’s wrong with that? She’s 46 for God’s sake, and Trump can easily snag a 27 year-old trophy wife.
9) I love that Reynolds is getting a tax cut. Love it! Deficits are great! More for the 1%! Yee hah!
10) Hey, nuclear war was inevitable anyway. . .
See we’re supposed to be simultaneously terrified of Trump’s isolationist tendencies and Trump’s warhawk tendencies, because these complaints are totally based on a coherent foreign policy position and not knee jerk partisanship.
He has no ‘tendencies.’ He’s not an adult. He’s a bratty, rather stupid child driven by greed and insecurity. There is no plan. There is no core. There are no beliefs. He doesn’t have the slightest fwcking clue about anything but grabbing ’em by the pussy, and attracting cameras.
That’s the point. Stop pretending this ass-clown has anything in his tiny little head but me, me, me, me, me.
Turns out Trump lied about having simply been the receiver of a call from Taiwan’s president. His staff organized the whole thing.
Of course, “turns out Trump lied” is probably assumable from the beginning of everything.
A dialog tag is ‘he said,’ or ‘she shouted,’ or whatever. The tag for all Trump statements should be, ‘he lied.’ Saves time.
That should be a macro that is inserted into everything written about him…which reminds me of this…
I mean, really, who needs those pesky facts anyway…
Wow, that was prodigiously incoherent,
Bill, I have no idea what “facts are racist” means?
One thing I do know is, a fact is, that over 16 million jobs have been created during the Obama Administration, look it up. Also, as a bonus, unless I’m wrong, it’s not a racist fact. Finally, I’ve got to ask, how is that fact ‘denigrating’?
Europe didn’t stall on it’s way our of the Great Recession, it’s remained largely stagnant because many countries did not engage policies of economic stimulus, as America did, and we’ve experience more economic growth since 2009 than those countries.
It is possible that Trump will be your guide into the wilderness.
@michael reynolds: Your comment was gibberish
The gibberish is largely coming from folks like you who respond to literally everything Trump does with hysteria. I’m not trying to excuse or rationalize anything, which I believe I made clear when I wrote that Trump probably didn’t know what he was doing. But if a white nationalist says the sun rises in the east, I’m not going to pretend it comes up in the west. Likewise, recognizing that Trump’s profound ignorance on public policy is likely going to cause a lot of minor trouble that will eventually add up to major problems doesn’t require me to buy into the infantile fearmongering that Trump will start a war because someone is mean to him on Twitter.
And I’m not going to ignore the obvious paradox that the people supposedly worried that Trump might upset China are mostly the exact same people who spent the last two months publicly insulting Russia. Here’s a thought. Given the awful nature of the Chinese regime and the possibility of it becoming even more powerful as time goes by, maybe our focus should be on enlisting Russia as an ally in containing China?
Is that a bad idea? Perhaps, but we’d be much better off having a genuine discussion about it instead of letting our policies toward China be determined by nothing except 25 year old inertia.
There’s not much point in going on with you because the longer you think about Trump, the more the butthurt overwhelms your sense of reason. But because you apparently missed it, I believe both the foreign and defense ministers of Lithuania recently came out and publicly agreed with Trump’s criticisms of NATO. You might want to keep up on stuff like that before using that country as an example in your weak arguments.
I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but I still agree with your general point here. I think the problem with this latest Trump-ism isn’t that we shouldn’t consider whether our “one China” policy should change, but rather that any such change should happen gradually and after extensive planning.
Sudden, severe, unplanned jolts in international relations can create conflict up to and including wars. We certainly don’t want President Trump bungling us into one because he refuses to believe the realities of transnational politics also apply to him. That’s certainly more likely than him dropping a bomb somewhere because of an irritating Tweet.
@al-Alameda: Look at these:
Get ready to be shocked !
Book: “Secrets of the Temple” by William Greider
Contains information most of the country’s leaders do not know !
Enlist Russia against China? Why on God’s green earth would Putin want to do that? He lives next door to China and they are far bigger, far richer and far more powerful than he is. China’s not going to bother him if he decides to roll tanks into Poland. And on the flip side they could certainly mess with him by, say, building up forces along the border, forcing Putin to counter, and/or cutting off trade to Siberia. Putin has no choice but to be Beijing’s lapdog, that’s likely one of the reasons he’s decided to prove his manhood by invading Ukraine.
The chess pieces Orangina’s playing with here are Japan, Korea and Taiwan, (and our bases throughout the western Pacific) and he’s not only not a chess player, he’s not a checkers player. He’s a fifty-two card pick-up player. American instability does not cause foreign governments to want to get closer to us. Instability and unpredictability from the world’s greatest military power does not reassure people. We are scaring a nuclear power we have no reason to scare at a time when we may really need China to cope with North Korea.
So saying in effect that he’s starting a conversation is absurd. No, he’s poking people with a stick for no apparent profit. We’ve pulled off this One-China policy for decades during which we kept Taiwan alive and free by playing diplomatic games. If China decides we’re quitting the game and starting to treat Taiwan as a second China, it will be Taiwan that pays the price, and us by virtue of the fact that we have a fleet that is dedicated to, among other things, keeping Beijing out of Taiwan. This isn’t some game we made up, it’s a delicate balancing act in which we, from a distance of 6000 miles, are tacitly expected to defend Taiwan, which China believes is no different to them than Hawaii is to us, and a whole lot closer.
Beijing is simply not going to sit around twiddling its thumbs if Taiwan goes off the reservation. People will die for that, maybe a lot, and maybe quite a few of ours. And it doesn’t need to come to war, China can send weapons and agitators into Taiwan, they can pressure international businesses to cease making deals with Taiwan. They can crash Taiwan’s economy. They can have fun creating incidents between the Chinese navy and the Taiwanese navy.
This is serious, grown-up stuff here, not something for an ADHD man-baby to be bluffing his way through.
Let’s both hope he names Romney as SecSate. They need a grown-up, and fast. We could be minutes away from a phone call where Trump decides Kashmir should be all-Indian, the entire West Bank should be opened to settlers, South Korea should deal with Fat Kim on their own, and hey, why shouldn’t Putin have a warm water port in Turkey. He’s quite capable of Tweeting that the UK should become the 51st state.
Trump can’t be all bad. At least he didn’t appoint Bunge to anything.
The problem with Taiwan is that the Chinese are far more motivated to go medieval on the place than the US is motivated to stop them. (No offense, Taiwan, but we’re just not that into you.)
And if the Chinese go into full aggression mode, it is going to become obvious to the world that the US is a paper tiger in Asia and that there is a new Sino sheriff in town that takes down American prestige with it.
We really shouldn’t want the Pax Americana to be one step closer to disappearing. If it gets its way, China will ultimately become the dominant player in world affairs by creating a sustainable, widely accepted currency basket that replaces the US dollar as the reserve currency, which would make the US a second-rate power. The loss of dollar prestige would increase the cost of consumer goods across the board, so this would literally cost you.
Do these numbers ring a bell with you Bill?
Federal Budget Deficit by (in billions)
2009 – 1,413
2010 – 1,294
2011 – 1,295
2012 – 1,087
2013 – 679
2014 – 485
2015 – 438
2016 – 587
It’s not that your a tool, though you are. It’s just that you’re such an ignorant tool.
Congratulations, you are more qualified to run American foreign policy than the next President of the United States. Although, that is perhaps damning with faint praise.
I love watching the Great Negotiator at work. We want a new trade deal with China so let’s go on Twitter and demand to know what the problem is because, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.” Right: we arm them, why shouldn’t we treat them as a nation-state? Kissinger’s going to hang himself.
Take three steps back and lose your next turn.
Now we’re Twittergotiating over the fate of Taiwan, which was settled, but is now inevitably part of the negotiation of any deal with Beijing. And what do we have to ‘give’ on Taiwan? What part of their country can we throw on the negotiating table? Our position is either, “We’re backing Taiwan!” or, “We’re going back to the existing deal!” or, “Go ahead, take Taiwan, just don’t bother my hotels!”
This is a ‘conversation’ we can only lose. The options are war with the PRC, a humiliating crawlback, or throwing the Taiwanese under the bus. All three options are bad, with the least bad being a nice grovel to Beijing.
Yeah, that’s some world-class negotiating there. Genius! Always re-open a settled negotiation when you have nothing to gain and a lot to lose.
@Davebo: 2009 – 1,413
2010 – 1,294
2011 – 1,295
2012 – 1,087
2013 – 679
2014 – 485
2015 – 438
2016 – 587
But Obama increased the debt by trillions of dollars! That’s what a few of the crack commentators will say. Obama was dealt by FAR the biggest shit sandwich for an incoming president since Roosevelt. A completely collapsing economy accompanied by a real estate market crash, both personal and commercial. And he had something no president in my lifetime had: an opposition party that was wanted him to fail, even if it hurt the United States. After 9/11 the Dems and Reps stood on the US Capital, held hands and sang. When Obama took office the US was in an economic 9/11 and the GOP acted in an almost treasonous manner, actively trying to stymie any attempts to help out the economy. An economic stimulus during a recession is SOP, and is usually a bipartisan effort. Not with the GOP back in 2009. Obama pleaded for a huge infrastructure stimulus and the GOP wouldn’t even negotiate in good faith.
The bottom line is we have a half trillion dollar plus structural deficit in this country due to Bush, who put in a huge tax cut while simultaneously increasing spending. The idea that the GOP is fiscally responsible is such a fwcking joke that its pathetic. They have become incapable of governing, now they can’t even nominate an adult for POTUS. The most distressing thing of all: Mitch McConnell is now the adult in the room when you compare him to Paul “Eddie Munster” Ryan and Donald “sexual predator in chief” Trump.
By the way, to those supportive of Trump’s call to Taiwan, would you have been supportive of Obama doing something like this when he was president-elect? Because this is clearly a case of Trump conducting foreign policy prior to his becoming president (I’m sure Trump is oblivious to that fact, but surely Steve Bannon is intelligent enough to recognize that).
I’m sure Obama detests Trump, now he has another reason hate even more.
I bet the historically-aware Chinese are wanting to say: “Who rules in Berlin?”
Loss of prestige, here we come…..brought on by a man-child too stupid to understand anything and surrounded by a bunch of idiots who have no clue as to what they are doing.
Put a fork in the US; it’s done.
@michael reynolds: If Asia is the flashpoint, and 8 years of living in Korea did not disabuse me of that possibility, it might be that Huntsman would be a better choice, but of the guys named so far Romney seems the safest choice while Petraeus has the more appropriate skill set, but carries risks from his Defense background, in my opinion.
Solid job growth? What, for fry cooks. Come on, get a clue. Our best guess from experts put the unemployed at somewhere around 9%…
Why is it that someone that has 1% of the resources that you the media has, can find more accurate data? Or, is this- one of those fake news sites?
Fake news? Conservatives have been promulgating fake news for the better part of 8 years now. The Right just can’t get over the fact that over 16 million jobs have been created during the Obama years. Get over it.
Fact? Didn’t you hear the new Trumpist philosophy? There are no such things anymore as facts.
@Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
My sneaking suspicion is that Romney’s allowing himself to be used and abused by Trump because he recognizes that the country badly needs a grown-up. I think he may be acting on genuine patriotism, letting himself in for four years of humiliation and frustration.
The irony is that the right would be claiming that the economy is fantastic if they had been in charge for the last four or eight years. Stock market recovery, unemployment below 5%, housing prices restored the old peak, record car sales…what’s not to like?
Fake news is a symptom of the disease: They care more about hating Democrats in general and Obama in particular than they do about results. Given a choice between reconsidering their beliefs and inventing a new reality, they do the latter.
So good jobs report. Only response of the crazies is to start touting this “95 million out of work!” malarky again.
@michael reynolds: Well I know that the nation needs an adult, but will Trump pick one? Even if he does, and Petraeus is equally adult to my mind, he’s still more likely to pick a high-risk adult over a safer one.
reagan=deficits go up
clinton=deficits go down
gwb=deficits go up
obama=deficits go down
If Obama had done this, the response from the right would have involved some combination of Rule of Law!!!, Unconstitutional!!!, Birth Certificate!!!, Abuse of Power!!!, Mom Jeans!!!, He Plays Too Much Golf!!! and I Can See China From My House!!!
This isn’t a political movement, it’s a club for stupid people.