The Edmond Sun

Opinion

November 22, 2012

Five economic trends to be thankful for

There is a dirty little secret about economics writing. The thing that offers the surest path to glory to front page play for a story, to lots of Web traffic, to a pat on the back from editors is doom and gloom. When we can point out something that is awful, whether it is a collapsing job market or rising poverty or skyrocketing gasoline prices, the world seems a whole lot more interested in what we have to say. It's not for nothing they call economics the dismal science.

But Thursday is the day each year Americans set aside to give thanks for what they have, to bask in the good around them. So for Thanksgiving, this economics writer decided to cast aside the usual practice, fire up FRED (a database of economic statistics maintained by the St. Louis Fed), and keep looking until I found five trends that are unambiguously positive.

This is what I found; these are the things that Americans have to be grateful for in these times of economic challenge.

— Household debt is way down. For the quarter-century leading up to the great recession at the start of 2008, Americans accumulated ever-larger piles of debt, both in absolute terms and relative to the size of the economy. Home mortgages were the largest portion of that, but it also included credit cards, auto loans, and student loan debt. The good news is that in the past three years, Americans have made remarkable progress cleaning up their balance sheets and paying down those debts. After peaking at nearly 98 percent of economic output at the start of 2009, the household debt was down to 83 percent of GDP in the spring of 2012. That represents debt reduction of $636 billion, or more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child. It should be noted that some of the decline came about because of debt being written down (such as in mortgage foreclosures), not paid off. But the simple fact is that excessive household debt played a major role getting us into this mess; we're well on our way toward fixing it.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Hinkle, Mike 2011 copy.jpg HEY HINK: Border crisis shows nation’s unforgivable unwillingness to act

    After years of unforgiveable neglect, the festering illness on America’s southern border has erupted into a full-blown crisis. Thousands of vulnerable children are being used as pawns in a cynical, multifaceted game where unscrupulous powers maneuver behind the scenes to exploit them for money, political advantage and soulless ideology. Our government is responding with the precision, speed and effectiveness of the victim of a stun grenade.
    We may have our doubts, but for the moment, let’s credit the rehearsed explanation we’re getting: These children are fleeing violence of their home countries in Central and South America. Let’s assume Mexico is either powerless to stop the flood, or has a credible explanation for why it won’t.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • AGAINST THE GRAIN: Author’s account of Johannesburg features growing pains

    American journalist Douglas Foster wrote in “After Mandela, The Struggle For Equality in Post- Apartheid South Africa” of the City of Johannesburg in South Africa that “It does not have a humble bone in its body.” And Johannesburg native Mark Gevisser recently has authored a memoir titled, “Lost And Found In Johannesburg” in which he gives some insight into the civic pride of that city.

    July 8, 2014

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: A robust armed force for Japan could be a plus for the U.S.

    Japan, changing course from its post-1945 posture of pacificism, is turning toward assuming a more vigorous military posture.

    July 8, 2014

  • Oklahoma’s iron triangle resists educational choice

    Survey data continually show that Oklahomans favor policies that give parents more educational options. However, enacting those policies has proven to be difficult. A simple metaphor can help explain why.

    July 7, 2014

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Boehner’s lawsuit against Obama is a bad move

    Most Americans would agree that this nation has too much partisanship and too many lawsuits. In announcing recently that he will seek legislation for the House of Representatives to sue President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner embraces a double dose of negativity.

    July 7, 2014

  • Rise of regional government may prove taxing

    I recently have written about bills from the last legislative session, which mostly escape wide public purview but contain far-reaching policy. The news has been mostly positive as I have either described harmful bills that were defeated, or good policy that won approval.
    Now for some bad news.

    July 7, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Dissenters from all sides should read Hobby Lobby ruling fully before judging

    This May, the Crown Publishing Group published Timothy Geithner’s book, “Stress Test,” which covers some aspects of his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration. One episode he covers relates to the prep he received from Dan Pfeiffer prior to Geithner’s appearance on a series of Sunday TV talk shows. At the time, Pfeiffer was President Obama’s senior advisor.

    July 3, 2014

  • The American way of war: It may surprise you

    When you study how the U.S. goes to war, there is a prevalent though not perfect pattern. The triggering event is often a sudden crisis that galvanizes popular opinion and becomes the immediate occasion for military intervention but subsequently is exposed as a misguided perception or outright fabrication.

    July 3, 2014

  • Get ready for an even bigger threat to Obamacare

    Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act will shift a few blocks away to another Washington courtroom, where a far more fundamental challenge to Obamacare is about to be decided by the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Indeed, if Hobby Lobby will create complications for Obamacare, Halbig v. Burwell could trigger a full cardiac arrest.

    July 3, 2014

  • Happy birthday, America. Now legalize fireworks.

    Through the smoke of Roman candles and bottle rockets, the absurdity of Americans' obsession with do-it-yourself explosives is nonetheless clear: One day each year, we gather with neighbors, friends and loved ones to blow stuff up in our backyards. Go, U.S.A.!

    July 3, 2014

Poll

U.S. Senate candidates Randy Brogdon, U.S. Rep. James Lankford and state Rep. T.W. Shannon recently discussed their views about the Federal Reserve and its monetary policies at a forum. All three called for an audit of the banking institution. Do you agree?

Yes, there should be an audit of the Federal Reserve
No, an audit is not necessary
Undecided
     View Results