Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cuba Becoming More Capitalist To Save Socialism?

There was an article posted to McClatchy that appears to be by Frances Robies of the Miami Herald. Drudge linked it up today and when I read it I was reminded of George W. Bush saying that we had to become more socialist in order to save capitalism. Of course, this showed a complete misunderstanding of the state of capitalism and (what haven't been for decades) free markets in the United States.

But the article today was about Cuba becoming a little more capitalistic in order to save socialism. We know that increased socialism has led to some of the worst economies in the world (Cuba, Soviet Union) and that free market capitalism is what made America the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world well prior to the The Federal Reserve System, Income Taxes, FDR, The Welfare State, The Great Society and such. In fact, we can easily point to increased economic intervention as the root causes of the malaise which afflicts us now. Even the Communist Chinese had enough sense to keep their hands off their economy as possible to allow it to prosper, and now they make fun of us and our economic and fiscal policies. Strange how the tables have turned, yes?

From the article:

As the Cuban government struggles through a deep recession, its leaders have begun picking away at socialism in order to save it. But experts say the latest buzz by the Cuban government is simply another desperate fix to stem the slide of a failed economy that buckled long ago.

Even one of Havana's leading economists recently said Cuba's economy needed to be turned upside down -- "feet up." So taxi drivers got private licenses, farmers now have their own plots of land and government workers have to pack their own lunches.

"I think what they are trying to do is prepare the people for a hard landing," said Cuba expert Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado of the University of Nebraska. "The government is really saying in so many words: We've got limited resources and can only do so much. I think they are stuck."

Since he took office early last year, Raúl Castro has been saying that the country's severely battered economy needs fixing. In a widely quoted August speech, Castro said Cuba was spending more than it made.

"Nobody, no individual nor country, can indefinitely spend more than she or he earns. Two plus two always adds up to four, never five," he said. "Within the conditions of our imperfect socialism, due to our own shortcomings, two plus two often adds up to three."

As with any government redistribution of resources ... 2+2 always equals 4 no matter how much the politicians like to try and claim they can make 5 out of it. Just like Alchemists found out they couldn't turn lead into gold, so it is true with those who might pretend to be "economic alchemists".

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recent Jobless Claims Data - Two Stories To Get Whole Picture

The following two articles came out today. I am always struck by how when "continuing claims" are reported, they never (almost never?) actually report the number of benefit recipients who reached the end of the benefit period. So, when you see "continuing claims dropped 16,000" but have to go dig to find out that "400,000 had their benefits expire" ... well, you do the math.

Even more fascinating is that both articles are from the same news source, CNN/Money. I'm just surprised that when these things are written the authors don't think to go find what that number is (benefits expired) and just include it. Is that not part of the story?

From the first article:

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 15,750 to 6,144,250, from the prior week's revised average of 6,160,000.

But the slide in continuing claims may not be a positive sign, Resler said, as it may signal that more filers are falling off that count and into extended benefits.

Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks.

From the second:

more than 400,000 people ran out of unemployment benefits in September, according to the National Employment Law Project.
and it also noted:

Some 1.4 million people will stop receiving checks by year's end