Sunday, February 04, 2024
I was watching some videos by a guy named “Jack Morgan RLM”. He’s okay, I enjoyed his videos. It also served to remind me of the street view of the economy. I often look at the economy from the point of view of an economist, tracking rates and statistics. It never hurts to actually talk to average people. To round out my point of view I also watch videos from people who work in real estate, car sales, and hiring. This guy speaks as an average guy. I needed to hear it. I know the economy is in bad shape, but watching him reminded me that a bad economy isn’t a bunch of bad numbers, it is actually people hurting from the effects of the bad economy.
I studied economics so I could understand why the economy does what it does. Not everyone does that, and that’s okay. Not everyone has the same interests. I could go on at length about symptoms and causes for economic phenomena, this guy can’t. But he can very clearly see the end result of everything I studied.
The automobile market is in shambles. New cars aren’t selling. They have been loaded up with options so that they would sell for more and make more profit for companies and dealers. The have been loaded up with so many options that regular people can no longer afford them. He shares stories about people who can’t afford to get a car.
The real estate market is heavily unbalanced. Housing prices are at a high right now, but even when they are low they are proportionally more expensive than they were a generation ago. Couple that with higher interest rates and that makes housing unaffordable. He shares stories about people who can’t afford housing.
Inflation has driven up food prices. Those who are poor spend a greater portion of their income on food than any other income bracket. I can talk about the money supply, the weight of food in the CPI, and other such matters. He shares stories about people who can’t afford food.
The cost of health care has risen far faster than inflation. Economists of various schools argue about why. I favor one side of the debate, and can talk about that at length. He shares stories about people who can’t afford health care.
I think every economist should find someone like him to listen to, to remind them that all of the numbers they watch are derived from real actual people who suffer the ill effects of those numbers.
Back in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running against George Bush, Clinton knew that foreign policy was where Bush was strongest, having just thrown a small country against the wall to remind the world that the USA was strong. So Clinton didn’t talk about foreign policy. One of the slogans of his campaign was “it’s the economy, stupid.” It worked. Bush had no good answer to that.
Now in the year 2024, we have another slogan in play. “The economy is actually good, stupid.” The economic indicators are all over the place, but no the economy isn’t in good shape. The people are being told that the economy is good, that they’re better off than they think they are, that anyone saying otherwise is wrong. Never mind the evidence of their own eyes. If people cannot afford food, housing, and transportation, that isn’t because there is anything wrong with the economy. They just have the wrong perspective.
Economists forgetting that they are talking about people is part of the problem, but deliberately forgetting is a political aspect of their job. There are economists whose declarations aren’t based on economic data but instead on political inclinations. In election years Republican economists and Democrat economists often make exactly opposite economic announcements in order to support their own candidate. The economy is either good or bad based on if that is good for their side.
Those people are an extra step removed from the people who are impacted by the economy. Not only are they the single step removed that all economists must be because they have to look at a bigger picture, they are an additional step of ignoring even that bigger picture to help their side. They slant all economic news to help their party, so they can’t even be called economists in the first place.
If economists are removed from the man on the street, these people are even more so. They not only don’t spend time with the man on the street, they actively denigrate him as unimportant.
“The economy is good, stupid.” If you pay attention to certain economic indicators, ignore others, and don’t do any of your own shopping because you are wealthy, then sure the economy is doing well. All you have to do is know nothing about how the regular people are doing and slant the economic news to help your side of the political divide.