Blog repair…and a request for questions.

December 16th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with this blog. While I still post here–especially stuff that’s too technical to go elsewhere and my write-up of the monthly jobs numbers–I’ve taken to posting most weekly takes on this or that to my PostEverything WaPo column.

In the old days, however, I used to post a link here to those posts, often with an extra comment or two. Here’s a brief attempt to update:

This one’s more political than usual: I pushback on Frank Bruni’s NYT oped arguing that my former boss VP Biden shouldn’t run in 2020. To be clear, I don’t know who should run, but neither does anybody else.

Here’s some noodling about what I judge to be a highly interesting moment in macro-dynamics: the job market is fueling strong consumer spending, which is almost 70 percent of US GDP. But the other components of GDP are all shakier. It’s C vs. I+G+NX!

In a related recent post, I get into what some other sources recent econo-angst: the flattening yield curve and the late 2019 fiscal fade.

Another entry into current economic events: The cause for a pause in the Fed’s rate hike campaign.

–I recently interviewed the great Belle Sawhill on her new book, The Forgotten American.

–I’ve been putting together what I call a “reconnection agenda” set of pieces intended to help members of the new House majority and their staffs think through some of the key policy issues that have been ignored or abused for too long. Here’s one on fiscal policy and one on jobs. Tomorrow, I’ll post #3 in this series–on climate change.

I’ve also featured the occasional musical link to share with those who, like me, recognize the essential importance of great music to get us through these challenging times. We if you need to ingest the chill pill, I’ll happily write you a prescription for the first cut here from the Gator: Willis Gator Tail Jackson.

Finally, I was asked to do a video answering questions folks have on anything I write about–economy, political economy, markets, fiscal policy…you know my methods. So, if you’ve got a question that might be usefully addressed in such a venue, please post it to comments.

Thanks, and seasonally-adjusted greetings (which I guess means no greetings at all!).

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7 comments in reply to "Blog repair…and a request for questions."

  1. Ryan Phelps says:

    I have a question about the costs of… housing! Freddie Mac recently published an Insight report about the effects of high housing costs, but barely paid lip service to the cause of the high construction costs. A friend is a contractor, and he said construction costs start at $300 per sq ft. It’s 60-65% labor. Materials are up due to tariffs, labor is up is because of high housing costs. At that rate, a new 2000 sq ft home is $600k, after you buy the land (not cheap either in Portland, OR).

    Is there any research into how circular housing->labor->construction costs are? Is it a death spiral of higher construction costs to pay for higher housing costs?

    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Good one! I’ll be sure to get to it.

    • Kevin Rica says:


      Are you sure that your friend is being entirely honest about the labor costs? That works out to $400,000 in labor costs or $200 per square foot. I don’t know how many hours of labor that represents, but in the pre-power tool days, I remember a figure of 2000 hours of labor for a typical house. If that were the case, that would represent $200/hr.

  2. Kevin says:



    I like the technical stuff, but I’m as wonky as you are.

    But you never challenge progressive orthodoxy. Let’s make it exciting!

    Progressives (maybe not you) aren’t SINCERELY interested in blue-collar, lunch-bucket issues any more unless it will buy them votes. Frankly, progressives are more interested in free sex and bathroom issues. (Mensch rule, honestly and fairly applied, means you have to admit that you know that’s true.)

    As Dean Baker has pointed out about economists,, they can’t decide if we have too many or too few workers. Progressives are worse, but don’t have the mathematical discipline to understand that that violates the principle of transitivity.

    So Jared, answer this question: “If America has enough jobs to absorb the entire population of a Central American country (Providing they can get past the Border Patrol), why aren’t there enough jobs for English-speaking, African-American kids in inner-city Baltimore and Newark?

    • Jared Bernstein says:

      OK–I’ll try! But not saying you’ll love the answer!

      • Kevin says:

        The issue of what I love doesn’t necessarily involve challenging progressive (or any other) orthodox.

        I’ll be happy if it makes logical sense and doesn’t involve the normal Orwellian doublethink so favored by progressive apologies for bad policies: “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

  3. Denis Drew says:

    Ben Bradlee Jr.’s book The Forgotten portrays the discontented Democrats’ decisive issues as: alienation, alienation, alienation.

    Somebody needs to tell “the forgotten” (and everybody else) that even if their Donald were constructed of kind-hearted presidential timber (even if he were another honest Abe) he could not turn their fortunes around as long as America remains denuded of labor unions.

    I’ve been yelling lately for federally mandated union certification elections at every private (non-gov) workplace – one, three or five year cycles; local plurality rules. (not my idea)