The stupid economy

When Bill Clinton ran for president, James Carville, Clinton’s lead strategist said, “it’s the economy, stupid” and that phrase caught on. I’m not an economist, but it’s clear to me that the use of “stupid” in this phrase could have many meanings, intended or otherwise. More importantly, I used “It’s the economy, stupid” as a title for a post already, so I had to mix it up a bit for this one. But more and more, I think there’s a lot of stupid when it comes to the economy, or at least how people talk about the economy.

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Lesser of two evils: death by virus or by recession

The United States is in the early stages of the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. As of this moment, there are 597,304 confirmed cases worldwide and 104,661 confirmed cases in the United States alone. Today, the number of cases in the United States grew to the point that there are now more cases in the United States than in any other country. Of course, we do not know if this is accurate, and suspect that it isn’t, because there are very likely many people, in many countries, who are infected but have not been tested. There is a growing movement, especially among republicans, to weigh the potential harm caused by the virus and the harm caused by slowing the economy (because of people sheltering in place, closed restaurants and other businesses). A friend brought this up to me recently, calling attention to a quote in the movie The Big Short: every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die. It got me thinking…as most things do.

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It’s the economy, stupid!

“The economy, stupid!” The phrase made famous by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton. Amazingly effective, and at a time when the US was in a recession. The past election cycle used the sentiment in some ways. The Trump campaign and his inauguration speech painted a very dystopian view of America. There was talk about our crumbling factories and our crime-infested cities. Couple that with prevailing views that our economy is doing poorly (something I touched on before, when I wrote about the disconnect between the way the public perceived us to be in a recession, when were actually weren’t in a recession), and it was almost a “the economy, stupid” election.

This all depended on how we saw the world, and likely which media outlets we viewed (something else I wrote about before).

But let’s look at some numbers, and think about what could come next. To do this, I’m going to steal some text from something I posted on Facebook this morning.

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