Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Policy fail: the economy

Commentary: 'Who is in charge and what to do?'

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Today's release of July employment data has vastly greater political consequences than economic or financial. Those consequences extend beyond elected officials to policymakers at the Fed, and inside the Obama administration and out. Net of all the moving parts (Census workers) and revisions (June adjusted down 152,000), job creation is flat. A minor uptrend in private-sector jobs has been offset by newly down-trending state and local government employment. Confirming an overall "stuck in mire": Weekly claims for unemployment insurance rose to 479,000, a four-month high. The economy does have some forward momentum: the twin Institute for Supply Management reports for July, manufacturing and services, came in at 55.5 and 54.3, respectively. The trouble is at home: July personal income and spending were unchanged from June. Flat. All things being equal, the economy could stumble along at this pace forever. But all things are not equal. The Treasury is hosing $125 b...