September 17, 2013: The income gap grows while trade rumors rumble

Posted by LDonia on 09/17/2013

Good morning,

Yesterday was a pretty terrible day in the nation’s capital. We’re all keeping the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting in our thoughts.

Now, on to the news:

Yesterday, President Obama used the five-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy to begin a week-long focus on his economic agenda. The president argued that the economy has made great strides since September 2008:

So if you add it all up, over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has come down. Our housing market is healing. Our financial system is safer. We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. We generate more renewable energy than ever before. We produce more natural gas than anybody.

Emphasis added. But we still have a long way to go. As Jim Kuhnhenn and Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press point out, the gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest level since officials began tracking the data a decade ago. And as for the president’s reference to our export boom? Not so impressive when you consider that we import more than ever before, as well. Our trade deficit with China alone hit a one-month record of $30.1 billion in July, and $315 billion in 2012. Let’s see what else President Obama has to say as he talks economics this week.

Elsewhere around the web:

Trade rumblings continue. Last week, we were happy to hear that administration officials sat down with the House Ways and Means Committee to talk about including a rule to punish currency manipulation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. This week brings news from the other chamber: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has raised his own reservations about the TPP deal taking shape. Steve Bennish quotes the senator in the Dayton Daily News, who spoke after meeting with workers at an auto factory in Sharonville, Ohio:

I’m convinced that exports are vital to the health of the auto industry, but we have to hold other countries accountable when they skirt trade rules. And that includes countries that manipulate their currency to disadvantage American workers. We need to make sure that our trade negotiators take these currency issues seriously as they seek to lower barriers to American exports.

We’re glad to see Sen. Portman’s on board with American automakers, who have expressed reservations about the TPP for months.

Europe has emerged from recession, and the Federal Reserve is expected to reduce its stimulus, yet an Associated Press survey of economists shows that global growth will remain below full health this year and next. Christopher Rugaber writes that while the American economy is expected to grow at an annual rate just above 2 percent, there are several obstacles to faster U.S. growth:

The biggest obstacles vary — from tepid job and pay growth to the lingering squeeze from a Social Security tax increase and government spending cuts to doubts about whether Congress will raise the government's borrowing cap. If the cap isn't raised, the United States could default on its debt by mid-October. That would risk a downgrade of U.S. credit.

Today’s fact that will help you win your next manufacturing-trivia battle:

Wow. We’ve certainly come a long way since then. Have a good Tuesday, everybody.

-AAM

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