I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, January 21, 2008

An Equal Opportunity Recession

It appears that the question is no longer will there be a recession but how deep it will be. The Wall Street Journal today:
U.S. Warning Signs Point Toward a Deep Recession
The U.S. has suffered recessions only twice in the past quarter century and both were short and mild. There are good reasons to fear that the looming recession, if it arrives, could be worse.

Housing is in the midst of its worst downturn since at least the 1970s. That has led to a meltdown in the mortgage market; with financial firms struggling to make sense of their losses, they are making it harder for even credit-worthy borrowers to get loans. The combination of heavy debt loads, still-high energy and food prices and a weakening job market has households tightening their belts. Consumer spending, long a bulwark of the economy, is faltering.

That sets the stage for something more severe than the 2001 recession, which spanned just eight months, says Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg. During that slump, in which gross domestic product declined a slight 0.4%, quarterly consumer spending slowed but never contracted -- the first time that happened during a recession since the 1940s.
And the rest of the world seems to agree:
Stocks Plunge Worldwide on Fears of a U.S. Recession
Fears that the United States is in a recession reverberated around the world on Monday, sending stock markets from Frankfurt to Bombay into a tailspin and puncturing the hopes of many investors that Europe and Asia will be able to sidestep an American downturn.
As we have mentioned here before many in the US never saw the last recovery and this time it wasn't just those at the bottom - the middle shared the pain and that continues.
Highly Skilled And Out Of Work
Long-Term Joblessness Spreads in Middle Class
An unusually large share of workers have been out a job for more than six months even as overall unemployment has remained low, a little-noted weakness in the labor market that analysts said threatens to intensify the impact of the unfolding economic downturn.

In November, nearly 1.4 million people -- almost one in five of those unemployed -- had been jobless for at least 27 weeks, the juncture when unemployment insurance benefits end for most recipients. That is about twice the level of long-term unemployment before the 2001 recession.

The problem is ensnaring a broader swath of workers than before. Once concentrated among manufacturing workers and those with little work history, education or skills, long-term unemployment is growing most rapidly among white-collar and college-educated workers with long work experience, studies have found, making the problem difficult for policymakers to address even as it grows more urgent.

"What has happened is a polarization of the labor market. It was very strong at the very top and very strong until recently at the bottom," said Lawrence F. Katz, a labor economist at Harvard University. "But in the recent weak recovery, and now recession, demand has been very weak" for jobs in the middle.


While strong corporate profits, low inflation and record manufacturing output characterized the extended recovery that followed the 2001 recession, some economists call that period of expansion a "CEO's recovery." Real wages were mostly flat, poverty ticked upward and an unusual number of people had a hard time finding work -- a fact masked by relatively low overall unemployment rates.
Of course both the Bush administration and the congress are talking about stimulus plans to "jump start" the economy. These stimulus plans include job training. The question is what are you going to train people to do? In the late 90's people trained to be software engineers and IS technicians. Jobs were shipped off to code generating sweat shops in India and many of those are now among the unemployed or working at convenience stores. Training does little good if the jobs are all overseas.