The “L” Shaped Recovery

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

I awoke yesterday and looked out the window to see if the world was still complete. A tow truck driver was repossessing someone’s car.  That didn’t do my attitude any good. “Good morning world! Oh shit.” The apartment complex where I live looks to be losing a tenant per weekend day. I’ll be joining them in January, Denver over promises and under performs. It’s a beautiful place with an expensive view. Much like Atlanta in 2008, it’s a builder’s economy. The economy is fueled by growth and when the growth stops, so does the economy.

So, being the nerd, I did what all nerds do at five in the morning. I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to have a look at what is going on. The first thing that jumps out at you is a drop of ten million employed Americans while in the next column shows the number of unemployed only rising by seven million. And just like that three million people disappeared. There are plenty of reasons to get gone while the getting is good and flee this economy. But it is not the story of what the numbers say, but the way they point.

The official unemployment rate is 8.4% and that is the U-3 figure for unemployment. The U-6 figure for unemployment this month is 14.2% I mention this because I’m going to give U-3 numbers and you can extrapolate them for yourself. As you can imagine service occupations are getting killed up from 4.1% unemployed in 2019 to 13.4% (U-3) today. Management, Professional, and related occupations up from 2.3% to 5.5% Dentists, lawyers, and Indian chiefs downsized by the pandemic. While the percentages are high, the numbers are low. Between August 2019 and today we have gone from 955 thousand unemployed in Production, transportation and material moving occupations to 2,187,000 today.

Material moving like when they are going to build something. Half a million construction workers already idled. The economy is trying to come back, but we must face the fact is that the world has changed forever. I’ve spent decades as an outside salesman and now most doors are locked to salesmen adding 1,200,000 to the unemployed. “Call me, e-mail me,” means you are too expensive for the return. Your slack business is my slack business. Because of the rise of “Your auto warranty is about to expire” telephoning, cold calling; a customer has become like asking a father if you can date his fifteen-year-old daughter.

Office and administrative support positions, the first to go and the last to return up by 700,000 year over year. We’re tightening our belt and reducing our sales staff and we’ve cancelled plans for the new building getting ready for the ‘L’ shaped recovery. The government admits to 14,000,000 unemployed  the numbers working for reduced hours or practically unemployed might be twice that figure. While the actual number of home foreclosures fell in the third quarter the number of Zombie foreclosures rose 3% to 1.5 million abandoned homes awaiting foreclosure. A part of the Cares Act prohibited foreclosures on government-backed loans. That provision expired August 31, let the games begin!

In Kansas one in seven properties are in foreclosure, Missouri, one in nine, Georgia, one in nine, Kentucky, one in nine, Tennessee, one in ten.

Seven million car loans are ninety days past due. The rate began to rise in 2011, during that great economy we had and has now reached the highest levels since records have been kept.

The Party of Scrooge and Mitch McConnell have no plans to help struggling Americans. He is willing to sacrifice the farm to save the factory. Inflation doesn’t matter if you own the bakery, you decide what bread costs. Abandoning huge swaths of the economy, they choose to let the fire burn itself out while inadvertently feeding the fire. It’s a first for me, I’ve never seen a government aim for its own self-destruction before.

I don’t expect much from the orange imbecile, but Mitch has got to know this is a Party with an iceberg in the windscreen. On a completely related unassociated event, I was reading when I read that Mr. and Mrs. Trump had been booed by the crowd. I thought to myself, “Not surprising” but when I came to hear the audio and hear the enthusiasm and emotion in their voices. I thought, “If they could, they would rip him limb from limb.” This isn’t a difference of opinion stuff, “I don’t like your tax policy!” this is “off with his head!” stuff. There was a time I looked forward to Mr. Trump being removed from office to spend the rest of his days ensconced in idle uselessness. But now he’s gone too far, threatening an election is treason and treason must be punished, either he goes to jail or we all do.

Mitch should pay attention because a little bit of treason goes a long way. It’s a lot like the Dr. Seuss book, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.” The more you try to clean it up the bigger the mess you make of it. When a hundred people want to tear you limb from limb that’s interesting, when thirty million people want to do it that’s a horse of a different color. Once you get a little treason on you is the same as being dipped in it. Mr. Trump makes clear his plans to throw the election into the courts. Committing himself to theft by black robe. I’ll say it again, thinking about doing that is treason, planning that is conspiracy to commit treason.

2020 never disappoints.

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
― Charles Dickens

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