alhambrapartners | Commentator Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard reignited a fierce debate this week, though it seems like he correctly surmised at the time anonymity would have been preferable. Speaking with author Charles Murray, Kristol echoed a sentiment that has been underneath a lot of what passes for analysis these past few years of the “rising dollar.” Being one prominent Never-Trumper, the most prominent, in fact, there is a fair amount of disdain that is political more than pure economic interpretation. It was the disillusionment, after all, of the working classes who delivered Mr. Trump his current Pennsylvania Avenue address.
If you google “job openings” chances are very good that in almost every one of the news articles that comes up the words “skills mismatch” are prominently placed. It has become something of an obsession in official circles, to which Kristol is apart, because how could it be any different? After massive infusions of “stimulus”, the economy never caught fire even though it was supposed to at several points along the way. The JOLTS survey of BLS configured data has been at record highs for several years, surging in 2015 as the economy fell off. Therefore it must be something wrong with workers rather than the economy the “experts” worked tirelessly to bring about with the best-designed programs in history.
Now after several more years of economic hardship, the “experts” now consider it more so lazy Americans whose communities deserve to die. To be fair, Fed officials have never expressed it in these terms, nor would I expect that they ever would. However, their analysis is in keeping with the basis for those unfortunate sentiments. Everything was supposed to be normal by now, but it isn’t. The Great “Recession” was supposed to have been a recession, but it wasn’t. What failed? The experts…or you?
Even if there wasn’t self-interest on the part of Fed officials to answer that question, as noted earlier today monetary neutrality leaves even credible and intelligent Fed members (like Tarullo, actually) to have to attribute the lack of recovery to the same absurdity of Baby Boomer retirement and skills mismatch that they rightly rejected in 2011 and after. They are prevented from arriving at common sense because common sense was renormalized out of the math, and thus out of official analysis that gets parroted by the rest of the “experts” in deciding what they will proclaim has been going on.
Populism isn’t a dismissal of the necessary messiness of rising living standards, it realizes far more that living standards aren’t doing anything like that, where one symptom is the utter and obvious lack of opportunity. It has demonized the globalization of so-called free trade because it is the rejection of “experts” who have no idea what they are talking about. These are the same experts who make sweeping generalizations based on sophistry rather than data, the very deficiency they believe of us. As I wrote last year, we are not the barbarians. We may not have advanced degrees, but we don’t need them to know exactly who it was that has been incompetent. If the Great “Recession” wasn’t a recession, and that is now the general consensus, admitted publicly or not, it’s not my fault for being a little more than upset about it, and directing that ire at those who for years said it was, and more than that said first it wasn’t ever even possible.