April 17, 2009

DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE 60s & 70s?:

They Don't Make Populism in the U.S. Like They Used To (NAFTALI BENDAVID, 4/16/09, WSJ)

Since the financial crisis began, commentators have been tossing around the term "populism," saying it is responsible for anger about corporate bonuses, that politicians are caving in to it, that it endangers President Barack Obama's agenda.

A word that until recently was used for half-remembered political movements against the elite, like the campaigns of William Jennings Bryan, has been hauled out of storage, often paired with the word "rage." A recent Newsweek story was titled "The Thinking Man's Guide to Populist Rage" and featured a photo of a torch-wielding mob.

Yet, unlike the populism in the U.S. through the 1960s, this new brand has had remarkably few consequences in the political arena. Today's populism has prompted no large-scale protests in the U.S.

That isn't the case overseas. Close to one million French demonstrators on March 19 protested the government's handling of the economic crisis, and thousands blocked London streets on April 1 during a G-20 meeting, events that dwarfed any protests in the U.S.


All you have to do is consider how comfortable this putative recession has been to understand why no one's angry. It's got to be history's first full-employment Depression:

Series Id: LNS12300000
Seasonal Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Employment-Population Ratio
Labor force status: Employment-population ratio
Type of data: Percent
Age: 16 years and over

MORE:
In Surprise Move, Consumer Sentiment Shows Improvement (MICHAEL S. DERBY, 4/17/09, WSJ)

Consumer sentiment levels took an unexpected jump higher as of the middle of April.

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for April came in at 61.9, after standing at 57.3 in March. It had been expected to come in at 57.5.


Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2009 9:24 AM
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