To get back to that level and maybe even surpass it, we need someone in charge at the Federal Reserve who understands that creating conditions that increase the purchasing power of American workers' paychecks is a part of her mandate. From what she's said and done so far, it appears Janet Yellen is exactly that kind of Fed chair.
The Federal Reserve Board is openly mapping out an actual job-killing strategy and drawing almost no attention at all for it. The Fed's job-killing strategy centers on its plan to start raising interest rates, which is generally expected to begin at some point this year.
Last December I wrote about a bank merger deal that could create yet another "too big to fail" bank from the smoking embers of two of the very banks that helped blow up our economy in 2008: OneWest Bank (formerly IndyMac) and CIT Bank. While I'm baffled that this merger is still pending, I'm happy to report a bit of good news.
In the summer of 2013, a sharp spike higher in interest rates caused by the "taper tantrum" (fear that the Fed will soon end monetary easing) reduced both housing affordability and the opportunities to lower mortgage rates through refinancing.
Hard as it may be for its legion of economic, political and media critics (and even some of its own members) to accept, the most recent bullish jobs report from the Labor Department looks like a ringing endorsement of Federal Reserve policies and perspectives on the economy.
The good news about the economy's improved job creation dominated the weekend's headlines. Many commentators concluded that the economy is finally shaking off the effects of the financial collapse of 2008 and the long period of stagnation that followed. But the one-year increase in wages has been only 2.2 percent, barely more than 1 percent when adjusted for inflation, and it's been a long time since most workers have seen substantial raises. In this recovery, the economy has been creating more low-wage jobs than high-wage ones. The shift from standard payroll jobs to temp and contract work continues. The uptick in the measured unemployment rate suggests that discouraged workers are only just coming back into the labor force and we are a long way from full employment. Even at the present rate of improved job creation, it will be 2017 before we get back to the pre-recession level of unemployment.
This is something that Germany, instigator of the eurozone's austerity policies, has to learn if it wants to bring Europe out of its Second Great Depression; by supporting policies that will unite Europe into a greater union, rather than cause its disintegration.
The year 2015 may yet produce solid returns for investors in US stocks. However, it's looking more and more likely that TINA ("There Is No Alternative"), more than any other factor, will be responsible rather than strong earnings growth.
If we had been able to hold the unemployment rate to its pre-recession level, we would have somewhere around 12-percent fewer people getting disability payments. In other words, we are likely to do more to reduce disability rolls by sustaining high levels of employment than by setting Rand Paul loose to get rid of all the shirkers.
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, I think there are some undeniable truths regarding our economy that need to be addressed before we reach the next phase of robust and sustainable economic growth.
There are many positive signs in the US. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 3rd quarter was up 5% on an annualized basis compared to the 2nd quarter (adjusted for inflation).
If the ECB is willing to use all its available tools without limit, there is little reason to doubt that it can hit its inflation target of close to 2%. However, making that policy commitment credible remains a great challenge because of the controversy and dissent about acquiring risky government debt.
It's all about how millions of Americans who may have been thrown out of their homes, or at least forced to stress about the possibility, were denied access to information that might have revealed how widespread the foreclosure problem was.
Here are 10 ways in which we should be looking to change the structure of the market in 2015 so that all the money doesn't flow to the 1 percent. This list should provide a useful set of market-friendly policies that will lead to both more equality and more growth.
There was a danger that eveerybody might want to take their money out of banks at the same time, in which case the banks would collapse. So Roosevelt (FDR) closed them temporarily to let panic cool down.
Surging stock prices will likely increase rather than decrease the costs of saving for retirement for most folks. Why? Because most people, including baby boomers who are inching closer to "retirement age", remain vastly underprepared for retirement.