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Thread: The US Recovery

  1. #931
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Monetarists worry more about the money supply than demand. Hence, increasing the growth rate of M-2 by half in order to stimulate demand will drive them up the wall. Milton Friedman is probably the most famous 20th century monetarists, and he spent the vast majority of his career arguing that using fiscal policy to stimulate demand during an economic downturn was counter-productive. Obviously, from his perspective, such action would be highly and inherently inflationary, and price instability was the worst of all possible worlds.

    Austrian, OK, I'll accept that I used it as a proxy for Hayek-Myrdal theory of money. LSE, Chicago, 'fresh water' economics. Too much money causes inflation, too little supply causes inflation, it's always and only about inflation. The quantitative easing (QE) approach simply shored up the structural flaws in the economy. Better to have let them starve in the dark until things returned to balance.

    The supply siders (a/k/a voodoo economics) most closely identify with Robert Mundell and the Reaganomics disaster of the 1980s; and Mundell was pure University of Chicago. Never mind demand, supply will take care of that. Push production enough, and prices will fall to the point where people will want to buy. Twist that all out of shape, and all it takes to balance the budget is to slash taxes, cut taxes and then reduce taxes. The hilarious Laffer curve followed, and America went deeply into debt trying to bribe billionaires into paying their share of the taxes.

    At its most basic, theoretical level, the only problem with Keynesian economics is that politicians won't save for a rainy day. George W Bush was the worst, claiming that the Clinton-era budget surpluses were “your money,” and that he would “return it to you, the taxpayer.” Totally irresponsible.


    = = = = =

    Debt sustainability.

    If the US economy can generate enough fiscal revenue to pay the interest and immediate demand for principle on the Federal debt, it is sustainable. In the 1980s, net federal interest payments alone took over 15% of total government revenues, as opposed to less than 10% now.

    In addition to a constitutional clause that require repayment of debt, the amount owed each year isn't an economic problem.

    = = = = =

    What caused the Great North Atlantic Financial Crisis? Two things: greed and a massive failure of oversight.

    Greed, because interest rates were low so people forgot to take full consideration of risks.
    Lack of oversight because, well GOPers don't like government.

    Carmen Reinhart, the lead author of the Foreign Affairs article linked above, is a very fine economist, albeit an acolyte of Robert Mundell. I'm not saying she's wrong, but her perspective is heavily influenced by her work on Latin America (hence, the repeated references to Latin America in this article). Her husband and co-author Vincent is more of Wall St/ Fed inflation hawk type. And, as they say in the article,

    “All too often, the day of reckoning is put off as banks fail to acknowledge how much the value of their assets has fallen.
    Financial supervisors sometimes look the other way because once they have admitted the depth of the problem, their governments will be forced to take the second step: allocating the losses among their citizens.”
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  2. #932
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    DOR,

    At its most basic, theoretical level, the only problem with Keynesian economics is that politicians won't save for a rainy day.
    that's not quite right. the problem with Keynesian economics is that GOP politicians won't save for a rainy day.

    Bill Clinton did just fine during the 1990s boom, leaving a surplus. Obama did just fine with the economic recovery, with the deficit decline. HRC's platform contained revenue increases to balance her spending/tax cut priorities.

    meanwhile the GOP passed a $1.5 trillion taxcut (over 10 years) and is proposing another round of tax cuts that will cost $3.8 trillion over 10 years, all of which is unpaid for.
    Last edited by astralis; 17 Sep 18, at 20:33.
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  3. #933
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    DOR,



    that's not quite right. the problem with Keynesian economics is that GOP politicians won't save for a rainy day.

    Bill Clinton did just fine during the 1990s boom, leaving a surplus. Obama did just fine with the economic recovery, with the deficit decline. HRC's platform contained revenue increases to balance her spending/tax cut priorities.

    meanwhile the GOP passed a $1.5 trillion taxcut (over 10 years) and is proposing another round of tax cuts that will cost $3.8 trillion over 10 years, all of which is unpaid for.
    Touche.
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  4. #934
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    The UK, Canada, Japan, and France all have higher public debt than the US, and none of them have Republicans.

    The problem with Keynesian economics has nothing to do with the actions of governments in "sunny days." So far the only major nation to have serious pressure on its debt is Italy, and it was relatively temporary. The US can easily double or triple its debt. The problem with Keynesian economics is practically no democratic government has demonstrated the will to spend massive amounts of public funds to dig itself out of a severe recession, and the political economy of who gets what spending sucks. Democratic governments do a much better with automatic stabilizers like unemployment insurance, and in some cases are too generous with said benefits. But while those are fine for mild recessions, they aren't going to do squat for severe recessions like 2008.

    Also, the US wasn't the only Western nation to try austerity. So Keynesian economics isn't necessarily theoretically wrong, it's just absolutely useless because no democratic government is ever going to implement it enough to actually work. That includes democratic governments that don't have a GOP. So in practice, Keynesian economics doesn't work, it has never worked, it never will work.

    Monetary policy has the benefit of central banks being basically unaccountable entities that can inject massive amounts of money unchecked, especially in the US. The only thing you need to do is convince other economists to try monetary policy, and hope that the President and Congress won't decide that today is the day to revoke Central Bank independence.

    Modern democratic capitalist nations are going to have financial runs and financial induced recessions, you aren't going to avoid it. Banks are heavily regulated and have been one of the most regulated industries since the freakin' Middle Ages. Most proposed regulations (Volcker Rule, shrink Too Big to Fail) are useless or harmful. Shrinking the role of hedge funds would be most beneficial, along with more capital for European banks.


    Whether or not you support higher taxes to fund the welfare state has nothing to do with kind of counter-cyclical policy you prefer, unless you an Ayn Randian objectivist.
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  5. #935
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    The problem with Keynesian economics is practically no democratic government has demonstrated the will to spend massive amounts of public funds to dig itself out of a severe recession, and the political economy of who gets what spending sucks.
    USA, 1930s and 10 years ago.

    Democratic governments do a much better with automatic stabilizers like unemployment insurance, and in some cases are too generous with said benefits.
    Why do I get the feeling you never had to make do with such benefits?

    But while those are fine for mild recessions, they aren't going to do squat for severe recessions like 2008.
    Agreed. Not designed for black swans.

    Also, the US wasn't the only Western nation to try austerity.
    Austerity — anti-demand; moneratism; voodoo; whatever — failed big time. The US and UK got out early, and have done quite well.

    So Keynesian economics isn't necessarily theoretically wrong, it's just absolutely useless because no democratic government is ever going to implement it enough to actually work.
    Did I mention that the problem was politicians?

    Monetary policy has the benefit of central banks being basically unaccountable entities that can inject massive amounts of money unchecked, especially in the US. The only thing you need to do is convince other economists to try monetary policy, and hope that the President and Congress won't decide that today is the day to revoke Central Bank independence.
    Key issue, but as we saw in the past decade, monetary policy without fiscal policy — i.e., the opposite of Keynesian economics — utterly fails.
    .

    Whether or not you support higher taxes to fund the welfare state has nothing to do with kind of counter-cyclical policy you prefer, unless you an Ayn Randian objectivist.
    And, the issue isn’t taxes for spending, but to rebuild the war chest and slow down a raging economy.
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  6. #936
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    10 years ago Keynesian economics failed. The only reason the recession wasn't as bad as the Great Depression was because of the automatic stabilizers that make life a lot better off. The stimulus package was mild at best and we hobbled on for a very long time before returning to anything like full employment (and we're still "recovering" with the long-term unemployed coming back into the labor force). Nations like Greece and Spain and Italy did suffer Great Depression equivelant conditions (though, again, have a social safety net that make things feel better). If anything the Great Recession was a bigger departure for central banks than governments anyways, as the Fed expaned its balance sheet massively. The government ran a huge deficit, but again a large part is due to the automatic stabilizers and not discretionary spending.

    Monetary policy does fine when you commit to it, that's the biggest part of the success of Abeonomics (IMO). And it's easier to convince economists to go along with massive stimulus packages than politicians.
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    GVChamp,

    10 years ago Keynesian economics failed. The only reason the recession wasn't as bad as the Great Depression was because of the automatic stabilizers that make life a lot better off. The stimulus package was mild at best and we hobbled on for a very long time before returning to anything like full employment (and we're still "recovering" with the long-term unemployed coming back into the labor force). Nations like Greece and Spain and Italy did suffer Great Depression equivelant conditions (though, again, have a social safety net that make things feel better). If anything the Great Recession was a bigger departure for central banks than governments anyways, as the Fed expaned its balance sheet massively. The government ran a huge deficit, but again a large part is due to the automatic stabilizers and not discretionary spending.
    automatic stabilizers ARE Keynesian in nature. the Monetarist view discounts this type of stabilizer as inefficient at best, worthless at worst ("markets are inherently stable"), while the Austrian/neo-classical view thinks stabilizers are actively harmful. (by the way, this is not "vice versa" with Keynesian economics; neo-Keynesianism is essentially Keynesianism + aspects of Monetarism.)

    the US with the stimulus AND Fed action had a considerably faster/stronger recovery than Europe, although most of Europe had a gentler time of it during the throes of the recession thanks to more generous automatic stabilizers. the Great Recession was severe enough where both fiscal and monetary actions were needed, and fiscal action was stronger than that of monetary action.
    Last edited by astralis; 18 Sep 18, at 14:56.
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  8. #938
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    10 years ago Keynesian economics failed. The only reason the recession wasn't as bad as the Great Depression was because of the automatic stabilizers that make life a lot better off. The stimulus package was mild at best and we hobbled on for a very long time before returning to anything like full employment (and we're still "recovering" with the long-term unemployed coming back into the labor force). Nations like Greece and Spain and Italy did suffer Great Depression equivelant conditions (though, again, have a social safety net that make things feel better). If anything the Great Recession was a bigger departure for central banks than governments anyways, as the Fed expaned its balance sheet massively. The government ran a huge deficit, but again a large part is due to the automatic stabilizers and not discretionary spending.

    Monetary policy does fine when you commit to it, that's the biggest part of the success of Abeonomics (IMO). And it's easier to convince economists to go along with massive stimulus packages than politicians.
    Unemployment came under control so fast it made heads spin

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CCSA
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  9. #939
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    GVChamp,



    automatic stabilizers ARE Keynesian in nature. the Monetarist view discounts this type of stabilizer as inefficient at best, worthless at worst ("markets are inherently stable"), while the Austrian/neo-classical view thinks stabilizers are actively harmful. (by the way, this is not "vice versa" with Keynesian economics; neo-Keynesianism is essentially Keynesianism + aspects of Monetarism.)

    the US with the stimulus AND Fed action had a considerably faster/stronger recovery than Europe, although most of Europe had a gentler time of it during the throes of the recession thanks to more generous automatic stabilizers. the Great Recession was severe enough where both fiscal and monetary actions were needed, and fiscal action was stronger than that of monetary action.
    I'm not saying the automatic stabilizers are not Keynesian, I am saying that they are the only aspect that is actually practical. They are counter-cylical, they deliver money where it is needed quickly, and they do it automatically, so you don't have to wait on a government stimulus program. You do need Congressional authorization to increase unemployment benefits beyond a normal timeframe, but that normally passes.

    Alternative approaches are going to involve massive amounts of discretionary government stimulus, which is not going to happen. And even if it does happen, it's going to be inefficient. If you want to expand the Keynesian response to recessions, it's best to increase the unemploymenbt beneifts and perhaps include payroll tax cuts automatically (which is probably going to be the norm going forward). You aren't ever going to get multi-trillion dollar stimulus bills through.

    Either way, my objection is that this anything specific to the GOP. It's not. Every democratic capitalist nation has problems with this. It's also not a problem with the deficit: the deficit is NOT the issue. The GOP and Dems can both spend like drunken sailors and we aren't going to have a debt crisis for a long while. The problem with the DEBT is debt overhang and crowding out of private capital, but both you and DOR are pretty liberal and cannot claim this as a serious issue, because it is a conservative talking point. The problem is that governments are not willing to spend the kind of money required to dig themselves out of a severe recession, barring some sort of war.

    Why not try more unorthodox monetary policy? The problem with central banks is that they are too dovish: if you have a 2% inflation target, you should be exceeding your inflation target as often as you fail to meet it. If you never meet it and almost always come under it, it's an inflation ceiling, not an inflation target. You can directly inject cash into the economy by buying different kinds of assets without government approval and can do so until you exceed your inflation target.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Unemployment came under control so fast it made heads spin

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CCSA
    That's initial claims, that's not the unemployment rate. We didn't recover to something looking like full employment for years. That's not a success.
    Last edited by GVChamp; 19 Sep 18, at 14:57.
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  10. #940
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    GVChamp,

    I'm not saying the automatic stabilizers are not Keynesian, I am saying that they are the only aspect that is actually practical. They are counter-cylical, they deliver money where it is needed quickly, and they do it automatically, so you don't have to wait on a government stimulus program. You do need Congressional authorization to increase unemployment benefits beyond a normal timeframe, but that normally passes.

    Alternative approaches are going to involve massive amounts of discretionary government stimulus, which is not going to happen. And even if it does happen, it's going to be inefficient. If you want to expand the Keynesian response to recessions, it's best to increase the unemploymenbt beneifts and perhaps include payroll tax cuts automatically (which is probably going to be the norm going forward). You aren't ever going to get multi-trillion dollar stimulus bills through.
    your argument against Keynesian economics is not so much that the economics won't work but that the politics of it makes it impractical. as a policy response to your "everyday" recession, this makes some sense-- i don't necessarily think every recession requires a "multi-trillion dollar stimulus", and monetary actions alone, including unorthodox ones, should be enough to ameliorate them.

    OTOH for big recessions or depressions, a monetary response is insufficient. moreover, given a particularly severe downturn, there will certainly be pressure on the government, which will change the political realities for a Keynesian response. recall the initial government response to the Great Depression was pure neo-classical economics: "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks , liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” this led to the complete collapse of the GOP with the rise of FDR's very Keynesian New Deal.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  11. #941
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    Alternative approaches are going to involve massive amounts of discretionary government stimulus, which is not going to happen. And even if it does happen, it's going to be inefficient. If you want to expand the Keynesian response to recessions, it's best to increase the unemploymenbt beneifts and perhaps include payroll tax cuts automatically (which is probably going to be the norm going forward).
    Spending is slow to take hold, and even slower to make a difference. Still, just about every major stimulus package of the last 50 years has passed with only a little bit of watering down. The worst dilution was under Obama, when that extra trillion just wasn’t there.

    [
    You aren't ever going to get multi-trillion dollar stimulus bills through.
    Hopefully, we won’t need a 1930s or 2010s type bail-out again in my lifetime. Straw man.

    Either way, my objection is that this anything specific to the GOP. It's not. Every democratic capitalist nation has problems with this. It's also not a problem with the deficit: the deficit is NOT the issue. The GOP and Dems can both spend like drunken sailors and we aren't going to have a debt crisis for a long while. The problem with the DEBT is debt overhang and crowding out of private capital, but both you and DOR are pretty liberal and cannot claim this as a serious issue, because it is a conservative talking point. The problem is that governments are not willing to spend the kind of money required to dig themselves out of a severe recession, barring some sort of war.
    The real problem is that GOPers want to attack the issue from only one side — shattering revenue — and want every tax-cut-due-to-recession to be permanent. Revenue cuts are faster than spending hikes, but still take 12-18 months to kick in.

    Crowding out? That’s so 1980s! Show me a real prime rate above 3% and we might have something to discuss.

    Unwilling to spend? What?

    Why not try more unorthodox monetary policy?
    Huh? QE, anyone?

    That's initial claims, that's not the unemployment rate. We didn't recover to something looking like full employment for years. That's not a success.
    Continuing claims.
    Unemployment.
    U-6.
    Mean duration
    27+ weeks

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CCSA
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/U6RATE
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UEMPMEAN
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS13025703

    Take your pick: historic declines one and all.
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  12. #942
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    GVChamp,



    your argument against Keynesian economics is not so much that the economics won't work but that the politics of it makes it impractical. as a policy response to your "everyday" recession, this makes some sense-- i don't necessarily think every recession requires a "multi-trillion dollar stimulus", and monetary actions alone, including unorthodox ones, should be enough to ameliorate them.

    OTOH for big recessions or depressions, a monetary response is insufficient. moreover, given a particularly severe downturn, there will certainly be pressure on the government, which will change the political realities for a Keynesian response. recall the initial government response to the Great Depression was pure neo-classical economics: "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks , liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” this led to the complete collapse of the GOP with the rise of FDR's very Keynesian New Deal.
    The pressure on the government is not going to be sufficient or timely enough to produce the kind of interventions required to close a gap. Monetary policy will probably be insufficient, but if so, for the same reason fiscal policy will be insufficient: a lack of political will to make massive interventions. You can always drop money from helicopters.

    In the case of the New Deal: Roosevelt wasn't particularly Keynesian. The General Theory came out in 1936 and a lot of the formative stuff of Keynesian economics doesn't come until later. The Phiillips Curve isn't even a thing until the late 50s. If anything, at this time, FDR was too anti-Keynesian. The Social Security taxes implemented in 1936 put the US right back into recession.

    Anyways, the New Deal's increased spending helped, but it wasn't anywhere near enough. It was a few billion dollars in an economy that was operating at least $40 billion and probably something more like $60 billion in the hole. It was wayyyyyyy too small. It took WWII to bring the economy back to full employment, and that basically tripled the size of the government.


    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Spending is slow to take hold, and even slower to make a difference. Still, just about every major stimulus package of the last 50 years has passed with only a little bit of watering down. The worst dilution was under Obama, when that extra trillion just wasn’t there.

    [
    Hopefully, we won’t need a 1930s or 2010s type bail-out again in my lifetime. Straw man.



    The real problem is that GOPers want to attack the issue from only one side — shattering revenue — and want every tax-cut-due-to-recession to be permanent. Revenue cuts are faster than spending hikes, but still take 12-18 months to kick in.

    Crowding out? That’s so 1980s! Show me a real prime rate above 3% and we might have something to discuss.

    Unwilling to spend? What?



    Huh? QE, anyone?



    Continuing claims.
    Unemployment.
    U-6.
    Mean duration
    27+ weeks

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CCSA
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/U6RATE
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UEMPMEAN
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS13025703

    Take your pick: historic declines one and all.
    There was a historic increase in GDP in the 1930s, it rose from $53 billion in 1933 to $75 billion in 1935. But who cares? That's a full $25 billion below where the economy was. If you can't return the economy to full employment, you don't credit for a solution, because you don't have a solution. We didn't recover fully from 2008 until....what, 2014, 2015?

    Where's the strawman? You're saying Keynesian economics works. Now you're saying Keynesian economics doesn't work for big recessions. But then what's the point? If we're talking little or moderate recessions, then automatic stabilizers and monetary policy are going to do almost all the lifting, and discretionary fiscal policy is a side-show. I don't see where our disagreement is, then, Keynesian economics is theoretically sound (IMO) and automatic stabilizers are a good counter-cyclical policy that do enough for smaller recessions.

    In terms of large recessions, we don't have the political consensus to solve them. This isn't a US problem, it's an everyone problem. Even if we were to have larger responses sufficient to deal with major recessions, I don't want to bake permanent spending into the cake, and neither is any other conservative, for the same reason you don't want tax-cut-due-to-recession to become permanent-tax-cut. I don't want temporary tax cuts to become permanent tax cuts either, but you can obviously see the political calculus of people who DO want permanent tax cuts and will use every excuse in the book to get them: same with people who want permanent spending increases.
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    Where's the strawman? You're saying Keynesian economics works. Now you're saying Keynesian economics doesn't work for big recessions. But then what's the point? If we're talking little or moderate recessions, then automatic stabilizers and monetary policy are going to do almost all the lifting, and discretionary fiscal policy is a side-show. I don't see where our disagreement is, then, Keynesian economics is theoretically sound (IMO) and automatic stabilizers are a good counter-cyclical policy that do enough for smaller recessions.

    In terms of large recessions, we don't have the political consensus to solve them. This isn't a US problem, it's an everyone problem. Even if we were to have larger responses sufficient to deal with major recessions, I don't want to bake permanent spending into the cake, and neither is any other conservative, for the same reason you don't want tax-cut-due-to-recession to become permanent-tax-cut. I don't want temporary tax cuts to become permanent tax cuts either, but you can obviously see the political calculus of people who DO want permanent tax cuts and will use every excuse in the book to get them: same with people who want permanent spending increases.
    There are fundamental differences in how to deal with a recession, and how to deal with a deflating, once-in-75-years depression. Those who play around with fiscal policy for partisan political gain do the economy, and the country, no favors. Slashing taxes just because one has control of the White House and Congress is against the national interest. Driving up the budget deficit when the economy is bubbling along and very modest inflation and very low unemployment is simply irresponsible. This is when a responsible government starts rebuilding the war chest, not firing off the left over ammo.
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  14. #944
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    Just so we’re all on the same page,
    Real federal consumption and investment, percent change (from GDP)

    _ _ _ _ Total _ _ Defense _ _Nondefense
    1930 _ _10.7 _ _ _6.6 _ _ _ _ 15.8
    1931 _ _ _3.2 _ _ _0.4 _ _ _ _ _6.4
    1932 _ _2.1 _ _ _ -0.3_ _ _ _ 4.9
    1933 _ _21.6_ _ _-4.3_ _ _ _ 49.8
    1934_ _ _ 31.8_ _ -9.5 _ _ _ _59.7
    1935 _ _2.6._ _ _20.2 _ _ _ _ -4.2
    1936 _ _48.8_ _ _ 16.6_ _ _ _64.0
    1937 _ _-9.6_ _ _ 1.0 _ _ _ _ -13.0
    1938 _ _10.8_ _ _4.2_ _ _ _ _ 12.7
    1939 _ _7.3_ _ __ 10.2_ _ _ _ 6.2
    1940 _ _13.2_ _ _72.9_ _ _ _-8.5
    1941 _ _164.2_ _418.4_ _ _ _ -11.6
    1942_ _ 198.4_ _ 256.0_ _ _-24.4
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