Outdoor Recreation Beats Big Oil in Growing the U.S. Economy


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❝ Spending on outdoor recreation outpaced Big Oil’s contribution to the U.S. economy according to federal statistics released Thursday, prompting critics to renew their attacks on Trump administration policies of ramping up oil and gas leases on or near public lands.

Outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent of GDP at $412 billion in 2016, statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Activity indicate. The oil and gas industry meanwhile accounted for $162 billion in economic activity the same year, or 0.9 percent of GDP.

❝ The data – representing the first time the bureau has compiled detailed economic information on outdoor recreation – give ammunition to critics of the Trump administration’s industry-friendly approach to public lands.

Real economic growth doesn’t matter a jot to our Fake President. What is accomplished on behalf of the brokers who own the Republican Party decides the policies of someone who is consistently bought-and-sold to the highest bidder this side of the Moscow Exchange.

Truman’s economy grew more than 3 times faster than Trump’s — So What?

He didn’t waste our time patting himself on the back!

❝ Based solely on a few headline numbers, the American economy looks good. But it would be a mistake to read too much into the data — or to give too much credit to President Trump.

In fact, the most spectacular economic growth since World War II occurred nearly 70 years ago, when Harry Truman was president. But Truman didn’t cause it, and it wasn’t particularly good news.

❝ First, let’s look at where we find ourselves now. Avid supporters of Mr. Trump attribute good economic tidings to him. His policies — tax cuts, curtailment of immigration, reduction in regulations — and confidence-building talk are seen as driving faster economic growth.

But that is largely a misreading of the way modern economies work. They have a tendency to alternate between booms and recessions for reasons that are imperfectly understood but involve changing popular narratives, the contagion of ideas and emotions, and circumstances that are mostly outside a president’s control…

❝ Whatever caused it, it doesn’t seem to have been presidential magic…this president was a modest and courteous man, who did not ask to be treated as a genius, and virtually no one treated him as one. The Times, rather politely, called his speeches “down to earth.”…

❝ We have to be careful not to give too much credence to interpretations of the economy’s strength offered by the president, who focuses on his policies and ignores many other kinds of factors. Something — probably a variety of circumstances, narratives and emotions — has pushed consumption spending up a smidgen more than usual. That, from the long perspective of history, is really no big deal.

In fact, there could soon be a reversal of this strong-economy story, a sudden recession. But, if so, it won’t disprove Mr. Trump’s claims any more than the high growth of the second quarter proved him right.

Among leading economists, Bob Shiller was one of the first to point out the cracks in the investing schemes that led to the “Great Recession” we’re still climbing up and out of. We’ve inherited the inequities of class-based incomes and the power of the wealthy has increased. Politicians are as subservient to the almighty dollar as ever. Especially the thug in the White House.

Dumb enough to get ripped-off for healthcare = dumb enough to vote for Trump


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Yes, all those countries paying a lot less than Americans for their healthcare mostly have what American pundits now call “single-payer” health insurance coverage. Mostly, those countries call it a National Health Service and have no hangups over discussing socialized medicine. Since we live in the land that invented McCarthyism and took over the Big Lie after Hitler and Goebbels were shut down, you won’t hear those terms except as a pejorative from Republicans…the right-wing half of our TweedleDeeDumb political parties.

Insurance companies, healthcare providers, corporate pharma? They simply donate to both parties and now own two complete sets of plastic fantastic Congressional bobbleheads.

Where is Global Growth Happening?


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❝ According to forecasts from earlier this year by the World Bank, the global economy is expected to average a Real GDP growth rate of 2.8% between 2017-2019.

But where will this growth actually happen? Is it in giant countries that are growing at a stable 2% clip, or is it occurring in the smaller emerging markets where 8% growth is not uncommon?

❝ Today’s chart looks at individual countries between 2017-2019, based on their individual growth projections from the World Bank, to see where new wealth is being created.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Happy Nations Don’t Focus on Growth


Roman Gorielov/Istockphoto

❝ The Socialist candidate for the French presidency, Benoit Hamon, says he doesn’t believe in the “myth” and “quasi-religion” of growth — it’s part of the “consumerist, productivist and materialist model” of development, he argues. That’s outside the economic mainstream, and many see those views as a symptom of the meltdown of the global left. But the recently-released Global Happiness Report 2017, produced under the auspices of the United Nations, shows that Hamon just may be ahead of the curve.

❝ Since the project’s inception five years ago, small, rich Western European nations have led the list. In this year’s ranking, compiled using the last three years of data, they make up the top six, with Norway, Denmark and Iceland leading the world. In terms of growth, these nations have long lagged behind the global level…

Meanwhile, China, which has one of the highest sustained growth rates in the world, is not progressing in terms of happiness. The happiness report contains an entire chapter on that, written by Richard Easterlin, Fei Wang and Shun Wang. They pointed out that based on previous studies, China should have seen an increase in well-being of one full point on the ten-point Cantril Scale. Instead, Chinese people are just about as happy as they were in 1990.

❝ The team of respected economists Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Layard and John Helliwell suggests six variables explain the subjective well-being levels: wealth expressed as per capita GDP, the level of social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity (the prevalence of giving to charitable causes), and perceptions of corruption…

❝ …The experience of the small European nations at the top of the table shows that once a certain level of wealth is achieved, growth isn’t as important to happiness levels. As long as per capita GDP is relatively stable, the other factors do their job, and if there’s a problem with them — for example, health care becomes less accessible or deteriorates, the social fabric starts fraying, people grow more selfish or freedom erodes — people tend to feel unhappy despite an unchanged comfort level.

The happiness-related findings are politically important. In 2015, George Ward of the London School of Economics analyzed European election data to show that subjective well-being was a stronger predictor of the vote for the incumbent government than GDP growth or the unemployment level. It’s hard for technocratic elites to acknowledge that the relative electoral success of nativist parties could be dictated by a yearning for social cohesion that they believe is undermined by immigration and globalization; it’s even harder to come up with ways of fixing the problem.

❝ Far left politicians such as Hamon at least give it a try. The French presidential candidate wants to shift the focus from growth to the social support network, primarily health care and education. He also proposes a universal basic income and a shorter workweek, made possible by higher taxes on the rich. It could help or it could backfire…

❝ …Regardless of whether their specific recipes are workable, the left-wing radicals are right in trying to shift the rich world’s policy focus. There’s plenty of wealth, that goal is already achieved. Good policy is a matter of directing it toward the determinants of happiness.

I’ll second that emotion.