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Monday, June 21, 2004

Economic recovery

Avedon Carol reminds us that the economy is not a statistical game, an interesting diversion or a political ploy, but is built up of the fortunes and lives of every person in this country. And the abstract notion that there are more jobs doesn't mean much to ordinary people who are filling those jobs if those jobs aren't allowing them to enter the middle class that they were in before.
That reminds me of Jim Hightower's concept of the Doug Jones Index instead of the Dow Jones index. Specifically, he argues that instead of looking at the economy from the point of view of how much or how little wealthier the rich will be getting this month, aka, the Dow Jones and other stock indexes, we take a look at how the average person in this country is doing in this country. The only nod that this might have relevance on the average financial news is the unemployment rate, but that number is nearly worthless when considering how ordinary people are doing. Sure, there's X number of jobs, but how many of those pay a living wage? How many pay enough for a middle class existence? How many wage-earners out there own homes? Have savings?
The news is playing fast and furious with economic indicators right now. Just last week, a news anchor on the TV chirpily said that the inflation rate has fallen to a mere X percent, and mentioned that the inflation rate on certain items, all luxury items, was the lowest. Which, of course, means that non-luxury items like food and gas are likely under a higher inflation rate than the average. Which of course means that the poor and the middle class are effectively suffering under a higher interest rate than the one reported on the news.

2 Comments:

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