Blame Donald Sterling for the Economy

John Ransom
Posted: May 01, 2014 12:01 AM
Blame Donald Sterling for the Economy

You can blame it on the weather. Or no wait: you can blame it on Obama's tax increases. Or perhaps you can blame it on sequestration. Or the Fukushima nuclear disaster, war in Libya, the rich, or Donald Sterling and the NBA.

But whatever you do don't blame it on “their” fiscal policy or lack therof. Or monetary policy.

Because they are blameless.

Once again first-quarter GDP came out and disappointed. Instead of growing at a Wall Street consensus estimate of 1.2% annually, first-quarter GDP came in at an anemic 0.1% annual growth. That's the worst number since the fourth quarter of 2012, when the Obama administration, looking for a way to salvage their reelection chances, accelerated government spending into the third quarter to artificially goose the economy, jobs and the vote.

“The U.S. economy slowed in the first quarter to one of the weakest paces of the five-year recovery as the frigid winter appeared to have curtailed business investment and weakness overseas hurt exports,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.”

Amidst a chorus of expert proclamations that the economy is picking up-- finally!—we hear now that economists are singing a hymn from the wrong page, in the wrong key and in the wrong church—again.

While certainly the weather is to blame for the anemic results, the consensus estimate of 1.2% GDP growth for the first quarter took into account that scientific phenomena known as weather. It’s not like weather has never happened before.

Truth be told, if you pick up the paper it seems that weather is actually picking up, as one would expect in the warmest, or coldest, or whatever time it is in the history of the planet.

Too bad it’s not helping GDP.

Last year, it was the Obama tax increases that bit into the growth of GDP, we were told.

In 2012, it was sequester that retarded GDP.

In 2011, as we were preparing for The Summer of Recovery That Wasn’t, it was the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the tsunami, and Obama’s war of choice in Libya that was at fault for slowing GDP growth.

Perhaps now it’s time to face the obvious conclusion: A government that can’t budget can’t govern.

It is increasingly clear that while it was true in the past that governments, especially national ones, got too much blame and too much credit for economic performance, it's impossible right now to assign enough blame to the Obama administration for the poor performance of the economy.

Every year, every quarter, even every day, we've been told that the economy is finally on the mend.

Yet if this is recovery, it's very difficult to tell it from the average recession.

Because if anything is true it is this: the employment situation is worse, not better, than it's been. And it's growing worse by the day, despite the phony stats that come out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame the government economists for falsifying numbers.

They aren’t doing that.

At worst, I would blame economists in general for supporting policies that have so broken our system, that new measurements are needed to measure the damage.

At a time when 20% of US households are devoid of even one member that has a job, unemployment-- when looking at it correctly-- is more like 23%, when you include underemployed as measured by U6 in the official employment numbers.

The trend is getting worse not better. And that trend is recessionary under anybody's commonsense definition of the word.

No wonder GDP has been hit or miss. It’s lacking workers.

So pick your excuse when it comes to excusing the recession that's posing as a recovery. Perhaps it's the weather that's lacking, or low, low oil prices, or government spending, or the price of tea in China.

I’ve picked my excuse and here it is: Lack of commonsense in too many—way too many-- places.