What the Fork Do You People WANT?!?
Inside the mind of the American voter.
1. It’s the Economy, Stupid
I do not understand The People.
Here is the latest news about the U.S. economy:
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. If you want a job in America right now, you can probably get one.
Also: Inflation keeps slowing. Here’s Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic setting some expectations for the next rate increase:
I try to let the data guide me as we get closer and closer to the meetings and we get a lot of information that helps give me a sense of what the right approach is. So right now, I actually think that the ratcheting down of the pace to 25 basis points is fully appropriate. We’re trying to get the whole economy and people’s expectations about where we are back to a more normalized level.
What do you call it when a period of large-scale economic expansion experiences a shock, creating inflationary pressures, which then eases back to equilibrium even while people keep their jobs?
It’s called a soft landing. It is the rarest achievement in all of macroeconomics. And people ought to be thrilled at the prospect of (possibly) getting a soft landing instead of a recession.
We’re not there yet. Things could still go south. But the markets are starting to believe:
And the data is encouraging even to inflation hawk Larry Summers:
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said a “soft landing” for the US economy is looking more likely, though inflation gauges remain too high.
“I’d say I’m encouraged, but I still think it would be a mistake to say we’re out of the woods,” Summers said . . . Inflation indicators remain “unimaginably high” compared to two or three years ago, and getting back to the Federal Reserve’s target “may still prove quite difficult,” he said.
With the pace of US price increases slowing, the economy added 517,000 new jobs in January, far exceeding estimates and driving the unemployment rate to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969.
“It looks more possible that we’ll have a soft landing than it did a few months ago,” Summers said.
I look at all of this economic data and think, Man we have gotten super lucky. #Blessed
The rest of America looks at this data and says, Boooooo!
In 2020, 68 percent of Americans were “satisfied” with the state of the American economy—even as COVID disrupted economic life In 2021, that number fell to 43 percent. For 2022 it was 33 percent.
What is this nonsense?
But wait—it gets more irrational. In the same set of Gallup polling, Americans say that in addition to being largely dissatisfied with the economy, they are super-duper double-unhappy with the “moral and ethical climate” in America. Only 20 percent are satisfied with this! Probably because of all the BLM Antifa Socialist Drag Queen Story Hours.
Oh, but we’re not done yet.
Because in the same forking set of polling Americans also report that they are . . .
Overwhelmingly HAPPY with their “overall quality of life.”
So let me get this straight:
Unemployment is historically low.
Inflation is slowing.
Americans are personally doing okay economically.
But the economy is terrible.
And American society is a hellscape.
Also: The vast majority of people are happy with their quality of life.
Yes, yes. This all makes perfect sense. Vox populi, vox dei, stercus tauri.
2. Re-election Fears
A couple weeks ago I gave you both the bull and bear cases for Biden 2024. I think that the data above about the public’s
irrational complicated beliefs about the economy and the state of the nation contribute to the bear case—if voters aren’t satisfied with the economy when things are going well, how will they react if something goes soft in the next 20 months?
But also, it’s worth remembering that the in-party frequently has doubts about the prospects of the incumbent. For instance, here are some headlines from 2010-2011:
This is a dance we do. How often? Buckle up for some history, courtesy of Pew and National Journal:
Drink that in.
(1) Obama, Clinton, and Reagan were all < 50 percent on “should they run for re-elect.”
(2) The only two presidents who were > 50 percent were the two who ultimately lost re-election.
So do you believe what The People tell you?