Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record

From the Wall Street Journal:

President George W. Bush entered office in 2001 just as a recession was starting, and is preparing to leave in the middle of a long one. That’s almost 22 months of recession during his 96 months in office.

His job-creation record won’t look much better. The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.

Here’s a look at job creation under each president since the Labor Department started keeping payroll records in 1939. The counts are based on total payrolls between the start of the month the president took office (using the final payroll count for the end of the prior December) and his final December in office.

Because the size of the economy and labor force varies, we also calculate in percentage terms how much the total payroll count expanded under each president. The current President Bush, once taking account how long he’s been in office, shows the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.

Jobless Rate Surges to 7.2% in December

From the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON — The final employment report for 2008 closed the books on a miserable year for U.S. workers with payrolls plunging last month by more than half a million, pushing the unemployment rate to a 16-year high.

The economy lost 2.6 million jobs in 2008, government figures showed, the most since World War II ended in 1945. Nearly two million of those losses were in the last four months alone, a sign that the recession accelerated as the financial crisis intensified, and should drag on well into the new year.

The figures will likely put pressure on Federal Reserve officials to expand their already aggressive quantitative easing steps in which cash is essentially created and pumped into the economy, and gives backing to those calling for large-scale fiscal stimulus.

Nonfarm payrolls, which are calculated by a survey of establishments, tumbled 524,000 in December, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday, the 12th-straight decline and in line with the 525,000 drop Wall Street economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey expected. November was revised to show an even steeper decline of 584,000, the most since 1974.

ADP Reports 693,000 Private-Sector Jobs Lost in December

From the Wall Street Journal:

Private sector jobs fell 693,000 in the U.S. in December, according to a revamped national employment report published Wednesday by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.

That’s far higher than the 515,000 loss forecast in a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

The December ADP survey is the first to incorporate a major overhaul of the methodology, including new regressions. The changes were introduced because the ADP survey has underestimated the monthly number of job losses as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since the recession began in December 2007.

For instance, under the old calculations, the ADP Survey showed a loss of 250,000 private-sector jobs in November. The new methodology shows a 476,000 job drop in November, closer to the 533,000 reported by the BLS.

The ADP survey tallies only private-sector jobs while the BLS data include government workers. Based on recent public-sector job growth, Wednesday’s ADP report suggests December nonfarm payrolls will show a loss of at least 650,000 when the BLS reports the data on Friday.

The new report showed businesses with 500 employees and more shed 91,000 jobs and medium-sized businesses lost 321,000 jobs in December. Small businesses that employ fewer than 50 workers cut 281,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment dropped 120,000 in December, while service sector jobs fell 473,000.

The End of the Financial World as We Know It

A long read but well worth the time:

AMERICANS enter the New Year in a strange new role: financial lunatics. We’ve been viewed by the wider world with mistrust and suspicion on other matters, but on the subject of money even our harshest critics have been inclined to believe that we knew what we were doing. They watched our investment bankers and emulated them: for a long time now half the planet’s college graduates seemed to want nothing more out of life than a job on Wall Street.

This is one reason the collapse of our financial system has inspired not merely a national but a global crisis of confidence. Good God, the world seems to be saying, if they don’t know what they are doing with money, who does?

Incredibly, intelligent people the world over remain willing to lend us money and even listen to our advice; they appear not to have realized the full extent of our madness. We have at least a brief chance to cure ourselves. But first we need to ask: of what?

On Wall Street, Bonuses, Not Profits, Were Real

From the NY Times:

For Dow Kim, 2006 was a very good year. While his salary at Merrill Lynch was $350,000, his total compensation was 100 times that — $35 million.

The difference between the two amounts was his bonus, a rich reward for the robust earnings made by the traders he oversaw in Merrill’s mortgage business.

Mr. Kim’s colleagues, not only at his level, but far down the ranks, also pocketed large paychecks. In all, Merrill handed out $5 billion to $6 billion in bonuses that year. A 20-something analyst with a base salary of $130,000 collected a bonus of $250,000. And a 30-something trader with a $180,000 salary got $5 million.

But Merrill’s record earnings in 2006 — $7.5 billion — turned out to be a mirage. The company has since lost three times that amount, largely because the mortgage investments that supposedly had powered some of those profits plunged in value.

Unlike the earnings, however, the bonuses have not been reversed.

As regulators and shareholders sift through the rubble of the financial crisis, questions are being asked about what role lavish bonuses played in the debacle. Scrutiny over pay is intensifying as banks like Merrill prepare to dole out bonuses even after they have had to be propped up with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. While bonuses are expected to be half of what they were a year ago, some bankers could still collect millions of dollars.