Retail sales have plummeted.
Retail sales plunged by the largest amount on record in October as the financial crisis and the slumping economy caused consumers to sharply cut back on their spending.
The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell by 2.8 percent last month, surpassing the old mark of a 2.65 percent drop in November 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks that year.
Name the sector, for the most part it’s not looking good.
Prof. Krugman, you know the one who got that Nobel prize thing, says a massive stimulus package is needed. Like $600 billion worth. It’s a figure well shy of what the batshit insane Paulson bailout (or whatever the hell it is today) received, but it’s real money.
Krugman is undoubtedly correct, but the key political question is how to keep the kleptocratic lobyists from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. from intercepting it.
Everyone probably recalls how the Republican Party ran its infamous “K Street Project” under Tom Delay in order to further its corrupt goals.
Maybe the Obama administration needs to run a “Main Street Project” that seeks to place stimulus funds out of reach of the crooks and liars. It would be far healthier for the economy in the long run to have millions of ordinary Americans make rational spending decisions rather than enabling a small group of executives to do so. They’ll just spend it on seaweed wraps and “vinotherapy” and shit anyhow.
And no, the way to do a stimulus plan is not to mail checks to everyone. A true stimulus plan would start with extending unemployment benefits and increasing grants to the states, where you get your most economic bang for your buck, paying particular attention to community colleges and other places folks can receive career related education and training.
If transportation and other infrastructure projects are quickly funded as well, we’re still not going to avoid some fairly significant economic pain, but getting money out into the real economy is absolutely essential if we’re going to avoid a complete disaster. It sure seems like we’re looking at a year or two of hard times, minimum, no matter what.
Another challenge is to come up with sensible regulations for the banking and wider financial sector so that the crooks and liars can’t get away with this again, at least in our lifetimes. And you have to do this while somehow sorting out the so-called credit freeze, which at times is described as easing in the traditional media and at times appears to still be a significant problem. This is another area where extra attention needs to be paid to Main Street, to make sure the myriad small and medium size businesses in our country can obtain the credit they need to operate.
The burst housing bubble and related mortgage scandal are huge factors here, and while finding ways to help folks keep their homes is an admirable goal, the best way to stabilize housing prices is to ensure ordinary folks can afford to buy them. Programs that offer relief to individuals facing foreclosure might be some help, and are certainly a humane idea, but defining which Americans get that relief is complicated and problematic in practice. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, I’m just suggesting that approach has obvious limitations.
The frightening thing for the new administration, and all Americans, is how many goals need to be achieved in short order.