The Economy in Context: June (and May) 2020

A month after a disastrous May jobs report, when 20,000,000 American jobs were lost, largely because the coronavirus pandemic (which is still ongoing, by the way), the economy recovered roughly 12% of those lost jobs over the course of May, which accounts for about 1 out of every 10 jobs lost in April.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to take lives, recently topping the 100,000 deaths mark in the United States alone, or more than 33 September 11th, 2001 attacks combined, with thousands of people dying every single week from this disease that the current Administration said was a political hoax.

I chose not to write anything last month, because what else needed to be said? Twenty million people lost their jobs in the United States. There wasn’t really a context that encompasses that sort of economic meat grinder, and the same could be said about June. I personally believe that opening the economy is a good thing, but the failure of leadership in Washington set up this fiasco and it’s not going to get better.

Meanwhile, the political unrest due to the recent police abuse scandals in the pandemic economy is bound to create a political and economic powder keg that will continue to create volatility that no one can account for, and this will probably continue to be the case through the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, the economic data coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be pretty useless, at least for the purposes of economic analysis, because how much of the economic fallout is due to the continuing effects of the pandemic, how much will be due to reopening the economy from basically a standstill, and how much is due to the incompetence of the government in Washington, D.C.?

There’s no way to isolate these causes from one another, so what does it mean that the labor force participation rate is at 60.8% compared to the 63.4% that it was at at the beginning of 2020? What does it matter that the federal funds rate is back to 0.25%, basically where it was during the Great Recession? How do we compare these numbers to anything approximating a functioning economy? We can’t.

For now, we have to ride it out with the knowledge that the people who put us into this mess in the first place are inexplicably now in charge of getting out of this mess.


Liberty is For the Win!

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