taking care of business

Obama Administration Has No Idea If It’s Running Economy Correctly

Thanks for telling the truth about how nobody will ever know if they're doing a good job with an economy. But you shouldn't tell the truth.With the news out today that the nation’s unemployment rate has hit its highest point in months, it was obviously the perfect occasion for the Obama administration to get out in the media and brag about how well they’re doing. Thus, Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, sat down with John Harwood to discuss the economy. So, has the administration made the right economic decisions in office, such as the stimulus it settled on? “I don’t know the answer to that for sure. There’s a bit of a crystal ball in that,” said Goolsbee. So the Obama administration admits it basically has no idea if it’s doing the right things with the economy. Great.

Q. Would our economy be in better shape right now if the initial stimulus when the administration took office had been bigger?

A. I don’t know the answer to that for sure. There’s a bit of a crystal ball in that. It obviously depends on what the things were.

“The economy: It depends on the things.” That’s a pretty good slogan.

Q. What does this economy need right now?

A. The answer is: give certainty

Good work following your own advice, Goolsbee.

Where does Obama get economists willing to admit they’re not sure they’re running the county’s economy correctly? Basically every economist ever is certain he’s right about everything. [NYT]

About the author

Jack Stuef is your loyal editor and a freelance satirist or something like that. He is a contributing writer for The Onion. E-mail him or whatever.

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  1. Weenus299

    Well that's not a fuckin' surprise. They should've put the whole stimulus into the porn industry.

    1. mereoblivion

      Really? I thought that was ailing, too, what with all the free stuff (stiff?) floatin' around.

  2. ManchuCandidate

    Duh, on the more bucks in the stimulus instead of chickenshit Boners, I mean, taxcuts for people who
    a) don't have money to tax
    b) should have been taxed a lot more.

    Apparently, Wall St is doing great with bajillions in "bonuses" for "hard" "work" by their "intelligent" and "honest" "work" force.

  3. Gratuitous World

    sometimes i take solace in the fact that there are people that put less thought into their profession than I do. Thank you, Federal Govt.

    and what's your screen name, AGools?

  4. PsycWench

    The economy needs legal marijuana. The tax revenue would be super helpful and even if the economy still sucked, we wouldn't really care as long as there was pizza.

    1. zhubajie

      The Count of Monte Christo used to spread hash-opium jam on his brioche; why can't we be as civilized?

  5. SudsMcKenzie

    I only trusted that dude with the bad toupee who dumped his pregnant girlfriend for the news hottie. What ever happened to him ….. oh, thats right, Citi Group.

    1. Negropolis

      "I only trusted that dude with the bad toupee who dumped his pregnant girlfriend for the news hottie."

      Which one?

      No, seriously; which one?

  6. x111e7thst

    The economy will never get better. I will never again be young/pretty enough to have simultaneous unprotected sex with two beautiful Swedish ladies. Just kill me now.

    1. zhubajie

      Depends what you mean by better. Life without a McMansion filled with doohickies and crapola bought on credit is simpler, but probably not worse.

  7. SorosBot

    Tax cuts! Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations! I mean it's not like they're making record profits and just sitting on the money and not hiring anyone or anything…

  8. Bluestatelibel

    Contintue giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires who will squirrel savings away in Cayman Islands + outsource jobs + layoff state workers = magical booming economy according to Republicans.

  9. WarAndGee

    Lets see, tax cuts for the wealthy aren't working so we probably need more tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Ok, next problem.

    Hitting your forehead with a hammer isn't helping your headache. You probably need to keep hitting your forehead with a hammer.

  10. HistoriCat

    Where does Obama get economists willing to admit they’re not sure they’re running the county’s economy correctly? Basically every economist ever is certain he’s right about everything

    Truer words Jack. I mean come on, can you even call yourself an economist if you're not absolutely certain about everything? Behead this impostor and bring in a new economist!

    1. SorosBot

      Next thing you know an economist will actually admit that economics is not actually a hard science, but a social science, no matter how much math they use.

    2. hooray4anything

      Yeah, I'm going to give the Adminstration credit here, it's not like they had Obama give a speech in front of Google with a "Mission Accompolished" sign. My guess is that you could have put any halfway serious economist into that position and after hearing all the things you have to deal with economically, they'd wind up crying themselves to bed at night.

  11. edgydrifter

    The man who gets paid good money to wear a tailored Italian suit and answer questions about his supposed area of expertise with "pffft… fuck if I know" is a man we can all envy.

  12. PublicLuxury

    Where is Xine O'Donnell? She's the resident witch. WTF has she been doing? HW's voodoo economics, Raygun's trickle down, (piss on the poor) and nothing. Xine we're waiting. Cast a spell, if you can't find a newt, there is one in Georgia, shit or get off the pot Xine.

    1. ttommyunger

      I am informed that she does not "shit". Nice southern girls like her just make a little candy from time to time…You're welcome.

        1. ttommyunger

          That would probably be more common among our British womenfolk. Porridge is not a commonly used term in Amerka.

  13. GOPCrusher

    Considering the conditions that caused the economy to go into a massive worldwide collapse, we ought to be thankful that unemployment isn't at least 50 %. I want to see what things look like in 2012 when the Republiklan controlled House hasn't created the millions of jobs that they've promised.
    A country that does not manufacture anything does not have an economy. Since 1982, the American public has been led to believe the path to economic prosperity was the all-mighty Credit Card.
    We've learned a painful lesson.

    1. slappypaddy

      "We've learned a painful lesson."

      not yet. still some learning to do. not painful enough yet. hold on tight, worse to come.

      time to hit the bottle, then hit the sack and cry.

      1. SorosBot

        The thing is, we already learned that lesson once, in 1929, and then the New Deal created institutions to prevent history from repeating itself; but then, a few decades later a bunch of revisionist right-wingers decided to start just flat-out lying about the causes of the depression and how FDR ended it, and in 1980 a bunch of morons elected a guy who began dismantling the institutions; then another idiot "elected" in 2000 finished the deal.

        So we shouldn't be surprised that history is repeating itself, but we've got a bunch of morons again who want to stop anyone from repeating FDR's policies that ended the Great Depression, and when you point out that it worked before they just parrot flat-out lies they heard from the likes of Beck and Limbaugh, saying "no they didn't", even though they did and we have proof. But just like the "the Nazis were liberals / Hitler was an atheist" lies, these morons will believe whatever bullshit the professional right-wing lying liars who tell lies all tell them to, and don't realize that they lying.

        1. zhubajie

          In 1929, the US still manufactured things. What do they make today? I'll bet our biggest exports are agricultural: soybeans, shell-corn, beef, pork. As the topsoil washes down the Mississippi, thanks to machine farming, that won't last forever, either.

        2. zhubajie

          Hitler may well have been an atheist, but he hid it well. Nazi-ism appealed to all sorts, early on: nationalists, anti-communists, big business haters, jew-haters, catholic-haters, Lutheran fundamentalists, neo-pagans. Even anti-Communist Jews! But it was a group of more conventional Conservatives who brought him into a coalition government and thus gave him power. They thought he was stupid and that they could exploit him! They found out otherwise. Read Joachim Fest's _Faces of the Third Reich_, some time, about the different sorts of people who supported the regime. You get pirated copies from the E-mule p2p network, if there's no good library near your home.

          1. SorosBot

            He was a practicing Catholic. The "Hitler was an atheist!" bullshit seems to come from the assumption that Christians can't be evil, so therefore he must have been a sekrit atheist even though there's zero evidence for that. Either that or it's just pulled out of their asses.

          2. zhubajie

            Practicing in what sense? He quit going to church at age 16, when hismother died. Later on, he paid the German church tax, but that'shardly “practicing Catholic.”Anyway, the German council of bishops excommunicated all Nazis in1930. It made no difference: the typical Nazi was a Lutheran.Zhu Bajie

          3. zhubajie

            Practicing in what sense? He quit going to church at age 16, when his mother died. Later on, he paid the German church tax, but that's hardly "practicing Catholic."

            Αnyway, the German council of bishops excommunicated all Nazis in 1930. It made no difference: the typical Nazi was a Lutheran.

    2. V572625694

      I never understood why la economistas, both Chimpy's and Hopey's, didn't tell people: "If we hadn't bailed out the banks, your paycheck would have bounced. You would have gone to the bank to withdraw your savings, and the bank would be closed until further notice. If you'd tried to sell your stocks, Vanguard would have said, 'They've gone to zero value.' And that gold you're hoarding in your bedroom closet? How big a sliver are you going to shave off in exchange for a KFC Double Down™?" Because I think we were close to bank runs. I mean I don't really know this myself, but Hank Paulson looks like an honest guy.

    3. fishskicanoe

      First it was cutting wages/exporting jobs. That was followed by the turn to credit cards to finance economic growth. When that scam ran its course, the only thing middle class people had left was the equity in their houses, so they were told to refinancerefinancerefinance and cash in on their "investment". Now that's done and there's nothing left. No production. No income to borrow against. Houses worth less than they're in hock for. All to propel one percent of the population to the heights of wanton consumption and power. As far as the fat cats are concerned we are superfluous, just a waste of oxygen and hot dogs.

      "Oh where have you been my blue eyed son…"

    4. transfatz

      "We used to be a country that built things. And not just infrastructure. If (our ) economy is solely based on services, I think we are finished as an economic power."
      – Edward Rendell

    1. fuflans

      and I put my faith in the wonketteratia that we will remind him of this each and every day until 2012.

  14. MistaEko

    Gee, with bad economic news today, so many democrats seeming ready to cave on taxes, and the president away in Quagmirestan, I sure hope his lackeys don't walk into any Republican talking points.

    "I don't know"
    "[We need] certainty"

    /stops trying
    //fortifies his cabin

    1. zhubajie

      Maybe the US should become a narco-state like Afghanistan; it seems profitable! T-tards can learn to tap the sap on poppies, can't they?

  15. bureaucrap

    We are certain that 50% of the population will be homeless and starving by 1/1/11. Is that the certainty you were thinking of, Goolsbee?

    I'd very much like to be of the opinion that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have the real Obama locked in a bunker in the basement, that this corporate weenie acting as our president is actually Joe Lieberman in a very elaborate costume, and that any second now, the real Obama will come back with populist guns blazing. But I'm almost certainly wrong about that.

    1. MistaEko

      Someone's been watching a bit too much Order of the Phoenix.

      Such a theory would imply that polyjuiced Barack was trying to corrupt an otherwise pure and brave leader into tipping his hand to the Voldemorts, and Mr. Reid doesn't strike me as Mr. Potter in any way depite their shared first names.

    2. zhubajie

      Unfortunately, the hungry masses will blame liberals, muslins, hispanics, anyone but the big business crooks and televangelicrooks.

  16. weejee

    Supply snide freakenomics got us in this mess. Demand? Can't have no demand iffin' the hobos don't even have beans in their pockets.

    Supply and demand? Supply and demand?

    That's it, we ain't got enough AND!!! We need lots moar AND, ampersands too, also. Sheesh, that was easy. Problem solved, and they say economics is hard!

    1. transfatz

      "Supply and demand" is a ridiculous perversion of the original concept "demand and supply". A perversion which has morphed customers into consumers of meaningless and useless crap. That's all right, nobody reads the rest of Adam Smith either, especially the part about progressive taxation.

  17. zhubajie

    Come on, economics is like astrology: a bunch of formulas to "explain" what has already happened. They can't predict.

    1. PsycWench

      I think it's more like every economist makes a different prediction, so whatever happens you can find an economist who predicted it and lord it over everyone else.

        1. Heq

          Okay, gotta step up and defend my peeps here.

          It actually depends on which model you use and there actually aren't that many out there. It's like chemistry more then anything else. The problems come in when you try to synthesize models with different assumptions, or, in 'bama's case, you try to finesse a hammer. This isn't "lot's of economists with different views" there only a couple of different arguments in play here. Sadly, 'bama went with a hybrid which nobody recommended.

          So, uh, yeah, he basically had one group of people telling him to treat it like a cold (fedd it), another group telling him to treat it like the flu (starve it), and so he mixed the two and become beulimic.

          1. zhubajie

            "It's like chemistry more then anything else."

            Chemistry is a hard science, and can predict with certainty.

            "depends on which model you use"

            Astrologers have all kinds of models, too. Siderealists vs. Tropicalists, fans of the equal house system vs. the Placidus houses, etc.

            It all depends on accepting the initial premises, which you can only do on faith. I'm afraid my faith in whatever the initial premises of economics are is rather shaky. Why should I trust them? (Not that I trust astrologers, either.)

          2. Heq

            In theory Economics was supposed to be a fairly hard science, a good number of us are hardcore Popperian Behaviouralists. So the initial premises are supposed to be lab-testable.

            Most of it is, actually, but there's a lot of liberties taken with the math later on, and a lot of people who work at these institutes who get payed to produce crap with math attached. Given that the standard politican sees math and says "Fuck, math, must be right."

            I was going to compare it to biochem, but that I woulda looked like a docuhebag but people are pretty tight once you get a bunch of them together. Pyscwench could probably explain that better then me, but once you get a big enough mass of folks, yeah.

            So it really isn't an issue of faith, or at least it shouldn't be.

          3. zhubajie

            Well, I'm exaggerating for effect. Even I knew that when Bush decreased the national income (with tax breaks for his buddies), increased the national out-go (with wars) and made up the difference with loans, it was likely to lead to trouble.

          4. Heq

            Yep, small stuff is hard, but Americas problems are nit-picky efficiency issues but big ticket fuck-ups.

            Hell, illiterate people in the dark ages could probably work through the nub of most of the issues, and they wouldn't even think about monetary policy, just good old "Are we getting loot from raid? No? Okay, let's do something that results in something, like build a road."

            You don't even need a model, really, just some basic common sense and the ability to do a little basic math.

          5. zhubajie

            One thing that makes the history of astrology interesting is that it has gone in and out of scientific "respectability" several times. Octavianus Caesar, Cardinal Richelieu, took it as seriously as we take economics. G-d knows what the standard method for predicting the future will be in 100 years!

          6. SorosBot

            Economics tries to be a hard science, but fails miserably. Under the scientific method, theories are supposed to be based on observations, and is empirical evidence contradicts the theory, the theory should be thrown out. Economics, thought, starts with a bunch of assumptions and develops its theories from there; and most damningly, most economists are unwilling to throw out the initial assumptions no matter how much evidence contradicts them.

            The big one is the assumption that people are all rational actors acting in their own self-interest; it completely ignores human nature, which is highly irrational, not to mention the existence of both altruism and sadism.

            It's somewhat similar to string theory, in that we have a lot of math that works out well but lacks empirical support; the big difference is that we only haven't tested string theory because we lack the technological capability to do so right now, and if physicists do find evidence that contradicts the predictions of string theory they're fully prepared to throw it out.

          7. Heq

            Well, rational theory is something that really has been thrown out. Just that it means that all the pretty mathematical systems go to pot (like "How a Lottery Works" Chi-town bollocks), I feel obliged to point out that American economists are actually pretty odd all in all done.

            The rational self-interest assumption is built into Walrasian models, but outside of American Acedemia (Harvard, Chi-Town, and Minnisota are the chief villians here) nobody actually believes that.

            The funny part is you can make it work, but it's a lot of extra steps to do so. Occam's razor would seem to indicate that it should probably be dropped and most of the new work coming out does so. Sadly, the people in power are not recently educated so they tend to work off of laughingly antiquated systems. The real failure has been on economists not calling "Bullshit" on each other out of professional courtesy.

  18. Mrspanky

    Holy crap! So Barry and his boys can't herd the Wall Street cockroaches?

    Here we are in the midst of the Global Corporate Fascists taking taking total control, and we are supposed to slam Barry and his gang for being unable to control them?

  19. axmxz

    So the real peeve red-staters have with Obama isn't that he is a socialist, it's that he's doing it wrong?

    1. zhubajie

      The main problem is that he's not on their team. Like White Sox fans will never say anything good about a Cubs player.

  20. ttommyunger

    I had the misfortune to have taken more than a couple of Economics Classes. What a colossal waste of time, effort and paper. Economists do not know shit about how economics works at any level, much less the National Level.

        1. zhubajie

          Well, Ι'm not an astrologer, but in the course of getting my semi-worthless PhD in ancient history, I learned a lot of it's history. Most pols or news dweebs can't tell you why they believe one and not the other. They just go along with everyone else.

          1. ttommyunger

            If only one book, Zinn's “Public History of America” (sic) were required reading we would be a better Country.

  21. transfatz

    If the stimulus was spent in direct hiring there would be no unemployment or crisis in consumer confidence. There would be no recession. But that would be socialism wouldn't it. Funny thing, socialism fails once and socialism has failed forever. Capitalism fails once every five years or so but that's all right. Cui bono?

  22. PublicLuxury

    It is not news. If you're at this site for "actual" news you're fucked. Try FOX. You'll more than likely fit in a bit better with the other delusional people that post over there. If FOX isn't your cup of tea (so to speak) try Red State. Erik Erikson serves up a special blend of ignorance and idiocy that borders on poetic.

  23. SorosBot

    Well, pauletteanne is a women who thinks that all women are naturally stupid and not qualified to President, so by her own logic (not to mention the evidence provided by her comments) she must be a moron.

  24. SorosBot

    That's way I'm actually loving pauletteanne so far; she's just so pathetic it's very, very amusing.

  25. MarshalBanana

    I know, right? I really wish more people would understand that *arguing* with trolls is totally fruitless; if you're not to ignore them, at least you can have a little fun and mock the *fuck* out of them.

  26. wondering where i am

    Um, maybe paulette was being, like IRONIC. It was sort of a comment on the Admin's cluelessness, um, maybe. Maybe you can put the rifles away.

  27. Chet Kincaid

    I suspect most trolls are liars who invent identities in order to stake out little tactical footholds in their tiny-minded battles. They then spontaneously concoct more biographical details to whip out on ya right when they think these fictions will refudiate your last point. I wouldn't be surprised if there has actually only been one troll here in the last few months.

  28. SorosBot

    During the big Breitbart invasion, I definitely got the idea that there weren't as many as there seemed, because several seemed to use the exact same tone of voice in all their comments.

    I figure there's more than one; pauletteanne here for one can't pull off the smug pseudo-intellectual tone that the ones I suspect were the same dude all used; but quite a few sockpuppets were involved.

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