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Saturday, July 7, 2012
Economics/Business ... Politics ...

President Obama got a lift in the tracking polls following the Supreme Court decision last week upholding the health care reform law (“Obamacare”). But another discouraging job creation report was released yesterday for the month of June, and some political writers are thus swinging back toward pessimism or neutrality regarding Obama’s prospects for a second term. If I were on the Obama campaign, I wouldn’t get too upset yet. There have been three down months from March to June, following some up months from November to February. Most of the numbers were discouraging in the first half of 2011, following a string of good months in late 2010. There were negative months (net job losses) in the second quarter of 2010, following a few very positive months from January to March. Then before that were a string of negative months, but growing less negative from late 2008 onward.

In other words, things are going up and down. Almost as if the economy is something like a bell that has been hit, disturbed, and is now ringing as it tries to settle down. A systems analyst might call this a “quasi-periodic behavior component in a complex, disturbed system”.

Complex systems like the US economy are subject to many trends, including pure chaos and periodic attractor (oscillation) behavior. But even a chaotic “strange attractor” is ultimately periodic; it goes up, then down, then up, etc. Our economy went through various shocks from 2007 onward, from the mortgage financial crisis and then the federal governments’ various interventions to avoid a severe business depression. The “bell” that is our economy has been hit hard from many angles. It may not be ringing with a nice, recognizable tone like a normal metal bell; it’s quite a bit more complex in structure. But it DOES seem to be “ringing” around an overall trend back towards more-normal employment and growth patterns.

Unfortunately, I’m not a brilliant economic mathematician with supercomputers at my fingertips to analyze all of this. But I do have a chart of job creation since 2009, along with an early version of Photoshop Elements. Here is what I see as a crude version of what may be happening:

The blue line is the general recovery trend, while the purple line shows the periodic up and down trends. There is still a lot of chaotic noise here; there are months that go well above or well below the purple line, and even the purple line itself is kind of crazy; its period lengths and magnitudes aren’t regular, but are also subject to random fluctuation (typical of a strange attractor).

Thus, there could be some better job reports before Election Day. But the key word here is “could”. Again, there is an up and down trend to US job creation; but it’s hard to say just how long any particular down or up trend against the overall trend (the blue line) is going to last, given a complex system which is experiencing chaos (as the US economy and political system surely are).

However, if Barack Obama can’t count on the strange attractors within the jobs market, perhaps he can still count on Mr. Romney and his personality problem. The polls seem to indicate a lot of discontent with Mr. Obama, but no great love for Romney on the part of most “middle of the road” voters. Perhaps Mr. Romney could be seen as something of a “strange dis-attractor”.

Many of the pundits say that Governor Romney is down to a very short list in his VP selection process. The top two candidates are probably Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty. Two tall, boring white guys; either a perfect complements to the tall, white and not particularly fascinating Romney (other than the Mormon thing). I can’t help but recall the phrase “Tweedledee and Tweedledum” when thinking about Portman and Pawlenty (whose last names aren’t all that different either!).

I wondered if anyone else has said this yet on the web. So I did a Google on it yesterday, and actually, I couldn’t find any blogger or pundit who has applied that phrase yet in the context of Mr. Romney’s big VP decision. If so, then remember: YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!!!

I doubt if Mr. Portman or Mr. Pawlenty are going to set these voters on fire either. Right now, I still see a close race and a long Election night going into the wee hours. But when the dust settles, I see Barack Obama getting his second chance to go down in history as one of the better Presidents. Let’s hope that he uses it well.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 3:33 pm      
 
 


  1. Jim, Nice chart and nice scientific evaluation of the present election situation.

    But I tend to find myself with another kind of evaluation of the election/economic situation at this time. Some time ago there was a study done that showed that the longer women’s skirts got, the worse the economy got/was.

    Up until recently women’s skirts have tended to be short–not ultra mini-dresses (as they used to be called) but short. All one really has to do is watch women on TV, but watching women in stores, etc., doesn’t hurt either. Then the skirts/dresses came down to around the knees. Now I notice that makers of women’s dresses are showing long–down to the ankle–dresses and skirts. Then, I have noticed when out and about, doing errands, etc., women are actually wearing these kinds of dresses; haven’t seen too many of these long dresses on TV, I must say.

    I’m not sure if it’s a summer “thing”–so one can wear thin dresses that show the legs, very sexy type of thing–or if it’s going to be a trend that continues. If it’s a trend that continues, I am afraid for the economy. But then I think, well, if the economy is having it’s moments of improvement and its moment of depression (as your chart shows), then perhaps the long dresses/sksirts are a “summer thing” and come the fall short dresses will prevail.

    Not being a mathematician, or anywhere near a real scientist, I tend to do it the easy way, I guess: Watch the length of women’s skirts.

    And I still say: If Romney is elected, I still will wish I could move to Canada. So, here’s hoping Obama makes it thruough another time yet. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — July 7, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

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