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Thread: Trump's Economy

  1. #46
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Q-1 gdp

    The first quarter GDP figures are very positive, at least on the surface. Deeper down, they are looking highly unsustainable.

    First, the good news: The economy grew 3.2% YoY in the first three months of 2019, the fastest pace in 15 quarters. The increased clip was evident in private spending, which rose 2.7%. That’s two-tenths faster than Q-4 2018, but two-tenths slower than last year’s third quarter. Capital investment slowed by more than a percentage point from the fourth quarter’s 6.8% pace, to 5.7%.

    So, where did the growth come from? Trade wasn’t the answer, but rather it was inventory buildups and defense spending. Stocks accumulation rose to 0.7% of GDP, the highest rate in 15 quarters. Defense spending rose 5.3% from a year earlier, the fastest pace nearly 10 years.

    To add insult to injury, the private consumption deflator, the broadest measure of consumer price changes in the economy, rose just 1.4%. That’s half a point slower than in Q-4 2018, the slowest pace in 10 quarters, and well below the Fed’s tight target rate of 2%.
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  3. #48
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    I don’t remember this being considered a good thing, under the previous admin...

    “However, the fall was due to a large number of people - 490,000 - leaving the labour force during April.”
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  4. #49
    Senior Contributor Red Team's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    I don’t remember this being considered a good thing, under the previous admin...

    “However, the fall was due to a large number of people - 490,000 - leaving the labour force during April.”
    Do measures specify whether they are majority retirees or are they people giving up on the job search/underemployment.

    I would also imagine wage growth (which doesn't seem to be well talked about) remains as disappointing as it was in past decades.
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  5. #50
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Team View Post
    I would also imagine wage growth (which doesn't seem to be well talked about) remains as disappointing as it was in past decades.
    Yes, wage growth is extremely disappointing. It's not just that it's stagnant, it's actually going in reverse in broad sectors of the job market.

    One of the reasons? The rise of "independent contracting". Employers are essentially either using loopholes in employment law, or directly flouting it, by misclassifying people who are doing the work of an employee as independent contractors.

    On an ostensible hourly rate that equates to $50,700 a year, standard deduction, single filer, no dependents or tax credits:
    • W2 and 1099s pay $4454 in income taxes (8.78%)
    • a 1099 pays $7164 in payroll taxes (14.13%)
    • a W2 wage earner pays $3879 in payroll taxes (7.65%)

    Thus, the difference in income after federal taxes is:
    • W2: $42,367
    • 1099: $39,082

    In reality, all else being equal, the 1099 is never going to reach $50,700 in pre-tax income in the first place.

    Income is going to be reduced for a number of reasons, including the fact that 1099s:
    • aren't offered health insurance, dental, or vision
    • aren't offered retirement benefits such as 401k or pensions
    • aren't eligible for unemployment benefits in most states
    • can be let go at any time with no explanation or notice at any time for any reason, or no reason
    • no paid holidays
    • no sick or bereavement leave
    • no paid vacation
    • often have to pay a fee ranging from 5-20% of earnings to a middleman who contracted them, on top of the extra payroll tax burden

    Let's assume for both the W2 and 1099 in a given year, both have the same number of hours worked, sick, vacation, bereavement days taken, and holidays spent not working. The same supposed hourly rate. We can take that $39,082 and easily knock another $10,000 off. So the 1099 has perhaps $29,000 left.

    Of course, W2 wage earners have also been being increasingly burdened and forced to assume costs for items described above in various ways that they weren't in the past. 1099 status seems to be just the natural progression of previous squeezes on W2 earners' income and benefits. The gutting of the American middle class.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 05 May 19, at 06:45. Reason: fixed some calculations and formatting
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  6. #51
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    With this Trump economy I am now scheduled to receive my fifth cost of living increase. I only had two during the entire eight years of O’horrible. Trump may proceed with the prosperity.
    Things must be looking awfully rosy for federal employees with their triple retirement (pension[s], 401k[s], and social security (the cherry on top). Pay increases by schedule and grade, best job security in the entire labor market, platinum PPO health insurance and benefits, not deducted from their paycheck, but rather paid from a monthly stipend layered on top of their monthly salary/wages.

    A list of federal worker benefits, from the OPM.
    Spoiler!

    Nice gravy train. The golden ticket, with workers in the productive part of the economy picking up the tab. I don't really see the difference between these excessive benefits and welfare. Instead of paying welfare downward to people who genuinely need it, it's being paid upward, to people such as surfgun.

    Only two COLA adjustments in the previous administration? An ignominious injustice, f-ck Obama! Five during this one? Hail Trump!

    This sense of entitlement, frankly, is shocking.

    Income paid out to workers in the extractive sector (government) is sourced from people in the productive sector, where incomes are stagnant and even regressing. It must be great to live off the fat of other people's land, while they glean their fields for what's left behind.

    This transfer of wealth funds the government workers' mortgages, retirements, benefits, and childrens' college educations inside the Beltway and beyond. To hear these people chestbeat from the Beltway Bubble about how great the economy is, or complain about a lack of COLA adjustments, when they are so richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money, living in ever-increasing luxury and comfort - don't they realize they're more than a little tone-deaf?

    It's a complete disconnect from the reality most of the rest of America is living in.

    Perhaps federal pay increases should be pegged to real wage growth in the private sector, or maybe even adjust current government salaries and wages retroactively to reflect private sector real wage growth all the way back to 1985. How would such a peg and adjustment compare to the cumulative federal COLAs in the last 35 years? How would you like to make that trade? With everything in the economy being so peachy and all.

    Apologies to any government workers who are self-aware and at least grateful for how good they've got it, appreciate from whom their money comes from, realize who is actually paying their salaries (us), and are actually sympathetic to those of us being squeezed out here in the real world, and maybe even trying to do something about it.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 06 May 19, at 15:04.
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  7. #52
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    ironduke,

    Income paid out to workers in the extractive sector (government) is sourced from people in the productive sector, where incomes are stagnant and even regressing
    the first part is not a useful way to think about government-- is national security or food inspections or national park upkeep "extractive" vs "productive", for instance?

    nor is the last part true-- private sector wage increases have been going on for a while now.

    This transfer of wealth funds the government workers' mortgages, retirements, benefits, and childrens' college educations inside the Beltway and beyond. To hear these people chestbeat from the Beltway Bubble about how great the economy is, or complain about a lack of COLA adjustments, when they are so richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money, living in ever-increasing luxury and comfort - don't they realize they're more than a little tone-deaf?
    lol @ "richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money". there's two tracks for federal workers; one track is for HS-level education and the other is for professional-level education. the track for HS-level education actually has average compensation around 30% greater than that of the private sector; the track for professional-level education, on the other hand, is about 25% less than that of the private sector. this roughly follows with my experience; i left the federal government service about a year ago for a roughly equivalent private sector job for +40% salary.

    so it's the HS-level education track that is COMPARATIVELY "richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money," but you're talking here about 35-45K a year.

    re: what surfgun is saying, though, i agree with your general sentiment (although it doesn't necessarily follow that surfgun is a member of the US federal government).

    federal government COLA increases/wage increases are a POLITICAL decision, part of the spending bill. if surfgun is a federal employee, thanking Trump/Trump's economy for the political decision is nonsensical, especially as Trump himself proposed to freeze federal worker salaries-- which was overriden due to congressional Dem pressure.

    and if surfgun is a private employee, that's a -private- decision to raise COLA rates. in Jan 2016, US private companies were sitting on literally $2 trillion in cash , so one could hardly argue that the "Obama economy" starved private companies of funds to raise employee compensation. it's roughly $2.4 trillion now, by comparison.

    most of the GOP corporate tax cut went to stock buybacks vs employee compensation, with wage increases only starting to pick up speed now that unemployment is the lowest it's been since 1969.
    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

  8. #53
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Real incomes, up about 10% — in real term — this decade, really.
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/A229RX0
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  9. #54
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Real incomes, up about 10% — in real term — this decade, really.
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/A229RX0
    I hope you're not responding to my post(s).

    If you were, show us a graph illustrating real income growth among the working-class and middle-class in the private sector.

    If this was a response to my post(s), to quote Disraeli: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    I don't mean that as a personal attack or insult - but that graph is worse than meaningless in the context of income growth among the working- and middle-class in the private sector.


    From: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tan...d-for-decades/
    Last edited by Ironduke; 07 May 19, at 02:58.
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  10. #55
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    lol @ "richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money". there's two tracks for federal workers; one track is for HS-level education and the other is for professional-level education. the track for HS-level education actually has average compensation around 30% greater than that of the private sector; the track for professional-level education, on the other hand, is about 25% less than that of the private sector. this roughly follows with my experience; i left the federal government service about a year ago for a roughly equivalent private sector job for +40% salary.
    I don't know where you or anybody else work, and I would never presume to ask. That is your business, and yours alone.

    That being said, services provided by corporate contractors, and the purchase of goods that are available only for government purchase, where the client is the federal government, and the salaries are funded by federal expenditures, is still part of the government sector.

    Incomes earned in these areas can't be considered private sector, except through some tortured logic and mental gymnastics.

    I understand that millions of federal employees have left federal employment for higher paying "private sector" employment that is 100% taxpayer funded. They are simply public sector employees earning higher salaries on an outsourced basis.

    For where this is the case, I double down on my previous statements of gravy train, golden ticket, richly and lavishly showered with the taxpayer's money, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    nor is the last part true-- private sector wage increases have been going on for a while now.
    I would refer you to my response to DOR.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    the first part is not a useful way to think about government-- is national security or food inspections or national park upkeep "extractive" vs "productive", for instance?
    There's a considerable amount of dead-weight loss in public expenditures. I'm sure you can come up with plenty of valid examples where you are absolutely correct that the activity is beneficial and necessary to society and the economy - but on the contrary there are plenty of examples where the activity is unnecessary, or inefficient, and has a negative impact.

    How often do federal bureaucracies come forward asking for workforce reductions, ask for a smaller budget, admit inefficiencies, or come to the conclusion that at least even a portion of their activities are unnecessary to society's welfare?

    I don't mean to sidetrack the discussion, but I'll refer to the concept of the Iron Triangle. Who benefits in such an arrangement?

    Last edited by Ironduke; 06 May 19, at 18:59.
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    :shrug: your argument is that federal civilians/contractors/anyone receiving a paycheck derived from the federal government is suspect of being on a "gravy train, golden ticket, richly and lavishly showered with the taxpayer's money".

    i'd say this may be true for a small minority, as deadbeats can be found anywhere.

    i'd also say that this is a serious insult to a lot of other people whom aren't deadbeats. actually, the vast majority, really.

    so beware of painting a broad brush; with that, i'm out of this particular conversation.
    Last edited by astralis; 06 May 19, at 19:13.
    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

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    :shrug: your argument is that federal civilians/contractors/anyone receiving a paycheck derived from the federal government is suspect of being on a "gravy train, golden ticket, richly and lavishly showered with the taxpayer's money".
    Let me be more specific. If someone is performing more or less the same tasks that federal employees perform, but are instead working for a federal contractor, while making substantially more doing so, yes, I'd qualify that as riding the gravy train.
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    Let me be more specific. If someone is performing more or less the same tasks that federal employees perform, but are instead working for a federal contractor, while making substantially more doing so, yes, I'd qualify that as riding the gravy train.
    plenty of good, legit reasons why the USG may want to go the contractor route vs federal civilian or uniformed military: easier to hire and fire, not on the hook for benefits/retirement, etc.

    now if you're talking people like Erik Prince or KBR, i'll agree with you all day long.
    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

  14. #59
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    lol @ "richly and lavishly showered with taxpayer's money". there's two tracks for federal workers; one track is for HS-level education and the other is for professional-level education. the track for HS-level education actually has average compensation around 30% greater than that of the private sector; the track for professional-level education, on the other hand, is about 25% less than that of the private sector. this roughly follows with my experience; i left the federal government service about a year ago for a roughly equivalent private sector job for +40% salary.
    According to a CBO report published in 2017, from 2011-2015, 91% of federal workers had high school through master's level educations. Only 9% fell into the professional/doctorate category.

    71% of federal workers had high school, some college, or bachelor's degrees - and their total compensation was 53%, 39%, and 21% higher respectively than the average of their counterparts with equivalent educational attainment in the private sector.

    I'm sure that some of this elevated compensation to some degree compounds with interest over the course of a career, leading to greater accumulations in wealth, such as retirement savings, real estate, and money left over to invest in their childrens' college educations.

    Overall, including master's level education, 91% of federal workers on average were better off in terms of total compensation, with only 9% worse off compared to the private sector.

    I don't think by any means I'm painting with a "broad brush", and I believe my point was entirely valid.


    Source for the following tables: https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115...privatepay.pdf

    In reference to my comments on the term "gravy train", I'll further qualify my comments with the following:

    1. most federal workers, though they may be hardworking on an individual level, are overcompensated, often times vastly so
    2. although a particular federal worker may be hardworking and not a deadbeat on an individual level, in many cases, the work they are assigned to perform does not advance the public good. This is not necessarily through any personal fault of their own; if they were not assigned to the job, someone else would be. Their position, not necessarily by any intention on their part, negatively impacts the public good by the sheer fact that it exists, and the unnecessary expenditure raised through taxation also creates a loss to the public good.

    Though there are many more examples I could give, I'll give you one concrete example on 2): Imprisoning low-level drug addicts for possession and use, paying to build and maintain prisons to house them, tens of thousands a year to imprison them, feed them, and provide for their medical care, and paying wages and salaries to guards and administrative staff to run the prison, parole and probation officers to monitor them post-release, and necessitating increased expenditures on police forces at the federal, state, and local levels to enforce drug laws against petty offenders in the first place.

    When these people are released, because of their record, for the vast part they cannot re-integrate as productive members of society, cannot procure gainful employment, cannot contribute to society, and overall, this all creates a net negative to the public good. I'd estimate it has represented a major loss to GDP and economic growth these last 40-50 years.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 07 May 19, at 03:21.
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    Ironduke,

    First, define the duration and you can prove anything. For example, compared to the middle ages, calorie intake is soaring. Compared to 30 years ago, not so much. The point is, those who claim incomes are flat or falling inevitably start their measures way back when inflation was high, rather than more recently.

    Second, define the universe. A phrase such as “the productive sector, where incomes are stagnant and even regressing,” which in its context means “private sector” (i.e., nongovernmental), is not the same as “working-class and middle-class [undefined] in the private sector.” Changing the definition when you’re called out is not very good debating technique.

    Now, I’ll admit that I posted a link to a graph that clearly shows steadily rising real disposable per capita incomes among all US residents, and not just the private sector. Fortunately for me, the difference is so close to meaningless that my graph proves my point (which is why I posted it).

    Third, posting without evidence immediately invalidates any claim that those who do post with accurate and highly relevant evidence are liars. I would very strongly urge you not to make that same mistake again. It really isn’t nice, and it really is a personal (and professional) insult.
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