August 1, 2010

GDP Reaxes from WSJ and IBD

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:10 am

On Friday, my reaction was that it was ““not as bad as feared,” with “reason for some guarded optimism.”

Weigh-ins from the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily are more downbeat, and worth noting (bolds are mine):

The Wall Street Journal (“The 2.4% Recovery”) —

Americans say they are underwhelmed by the economic recovery, and yesterday’s report of 2.4% growth in the second quarter met their expectations. A recovery that should be accelerating after the long and deep recession has instead downshifted into slower growth.

About the best that can be said is that the report showed no signs of a looming “double dip” recession. Domestic demand was strong enough to suck in a burst of imports, which rebuts the Keynesians who are predicting another depression.

… The irony is that businesses and consumers have been fixing their balance sheets even as the government has been doing the opposite.

… So just as Americans are putting themselves in the financial condition to start investing and spending more robustly, the Obama Administration will suck tens of billions out of the private economy. This is not the way to nurture a recovery that is weaker than it should be.

… The Obama Administration, in its Keynesian confusion, is simultaneously saying the economy is so weak it needs more spending “stimulus” but also strong enough to absorb a huge tax increase.

The message of 2.4% second quarter growth is closer to the opposite: The epic government stimulus has failed to produce the robust expansion the White House promised, and the prospect of higher taxes and more regulation is inhibiting the private animal spirits needed for growth to accelerate. Americans may have to wait for November for Washington to get that message.

Investors Business Daily (“Slow Poison”) —

Disappointing GDP growth of 2.4% in the second quarter signals that our “recovery” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. But then, how could it be when politicians have been trying to kill it for years?

How do you keep an economy from digging itself out of a major recession? One surefire method is massively expanding a government whose major programs are already on their way to bankruptcy, then sitting idly by as major tax increases arrive.

The Democratic Congress has spent a trillion dollars on a failed Keynesian stimulus that promised millions of jobs that never materialized. They added a massive new entitlement in the form of a government takeover of health care when the entitlements already burdening us are going broke. And they are letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year.

Why in such a chancy economic environment would investors invest? Why would entrepreneurs take risks? And why would businesses expand and hire new employees? By extension, why would consumers spend?

… The normally cautious Conference Board reacted to the tepid second quarter figure by warning that “The post-recession rebound is history.” And its forecast was for GDP to “slow even more markedly, to a 1.6% annualized rate in the second half of the year.”

1.6%? Yikes. That might not even be enough to prevent job losses. And then what?

Positivity: Damien of Molokai film from Vatican archives shows reality of the saint

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:34 am

From Vatican City:

A newly digitized 1950′s film on Fr. Damien of Molokai still offers a relevant message for today, remarked L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) on Friday. According to the Vatican newspaper, the film’s images not only show us the priest’s life, but reveal “timeless and fundamentally human themes.”

Titled “Molokai, la isla maldita” (Molokai, the damned island), the black and white film was made in 1959 by director Luis Lucia. It won awards in Spain for best film and for best director. LOR reported that the now-digitized movie is of interest not only to the library, as one of the first films filed in its film archives, but also to religious cinema as a whole.

Using the cinematic techniques typical of religious films of the mid-20th century, the film remembers Fr. Damien and his 16 years of work with lepers on Hawaii’s Island of Molokai until his death from leprosy in 1889. The Belgian priest, reported LOR, “represents a universal example of humanitarian aid and solidarity,” battling “not only against leprosy but against prejudices.”

The value of the film, the article goes on to explain, is its reflection on the figure of the priest in the language and context of 50 years ago, “shedding light on his devotion, the sacrifice and the hard work he must have confronted on the island…”

It continues to offer a “service to values and spirituality,” they said, but, “most of all … the merit of ‘Molokai’ is in its bringing to light an historic fact, making a character known to the greater public who really existed and showing a concrete reality that, as it is human, makes the spectator feel close by.

“Seeing this movie again today has value if one considers it (to be) cinema in service of the human, since it … mirrors the culture of a society, brings up ‘silenced’ themes, underscores conflicts and problems and, at the same time, exposes timeless and fundamentally human themes like disease, family, children, the sense of community, the faith, need for God, marginalization, dignity and respect for the individual,” the paper continued.

… Fr. Damien of Molokai was canonized in October 2009.

Go here for the full story.