Popular Economics Weekly
It looks like the U.S. economy is charging ahead for the next few quarters, as Q3 Gross Domestic Product was revised from 3 percent to a 3.3 percent growth rate, due to higher exports and capital expenditures.
Businesses are spending more on equipment such as robots to make up for the labor shortage, and we are exporting more manufactured goods, a sign that the manufacturing sector has finally recovered from the Great Recession.
Good economics says this is an opportunity to pay down our $20 trillion in federal debt. So why are Repubs cutting taxes, which will result in at least $1.5 trillion added to that debt; just when they have to raise the debt ceiling in 9 days, or risk a government shutdown?
Cutting taxes at this time reduces tax revenues, which will also increase the annual budget deficit, and make the debt ceiling negotiations more difficult. Responsible economics should mean finding more ways to pay down that debt, such as closing some of the huge tax loopholes with industries like oil and gas exploration ($6 billion), but one-half of congress that used to be budget hawks now want even more government debt to pay for their tax breaks?
“The increase in real GDP in the third quarter reflected positive contributions from PCE, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports that were partly offset by a negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP,” said the BEA.Sad, there is no fiscal responsibility in DC at the moment. Monthly retail sales are helping to boost GDP due in large part to the hurricanes. An upward revision to September puts the monthly retail sales jump at 1.9 percent and a 2-1/2 year high, as consumers in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands replace autos and everything else lost in the storms. Sales in October understandably slowed but did remain in the plus column at 0.2 percent, said Econoday.
What should have been done to bring some fiscal responsibility? Raise the national minimum tax from $7.25/hr where it has been since the last raise in 2009, for starters. This would boost consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic activity at present.
Across the country, 29 states and Washington, D.C., currently have wages above the federal floor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California and New York are set to soon have the highest minimum wages in the nation, after deals were struck by their governors to raise them to $15 an hour by 2022 and 2018, respectively, with slower increases for smaller businesses.
It’s a simple bit of economics that many do not seem to understand, and it’s hurting economic growth. Henry Ford raised his workers’ daily wages to $5 per day in 1914 so they could afford to buy his cars. He could do this because he had reduced the time to build a Model A Ford from 12 hours to less than 1 hour with a better-designed production line.
Corporations are making record profits, with Q3 profits up 10 percent annually. So raising their workers’ incomes today will do the same thing—allow workers to buy more products, which increases company profits, which grows our economy!
Harlan Green © 2017
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