First they came for the air-traffic controllers (or at least their pay), and I didn’t speak out because I’m not getting on a plane for a while.
Then they came for my national parks, and I didn’t speak out because I’m not vacationing anytime soon.
Then they came for my panda cam, and I was annoyed for a moment but didn’t speak out because there are plenty of puppy videos on the Internet.
Then they came for my jobs report, and I said OH HELL NO, since they’re now directly messing with my livelihood.
In a more general sense, I can’t decide how much to pay attention to this whole government shutdown thing. Yes, it’s helpful to know exactly what will be unavailable during the shutdown, but I see the shutdown conversation overall as more of a political hullabaloo than an economic matter to be analyzed in reasonable fashion. That said, here are a couple of shutdown-related items that I would like to bring to your attention:
- The previously mentioned lack of jobs report– How is the Fed going to decide whether to taper the quantitative easing if it doesn’t know how many people are still unemployed? Is the Fed even conducting open-market operations during the shutdown, or is Bernanke on a beach somewhere with a fruity drink? I don’t like uncertainty. (In case you’re curious, the Federal Reserve is still operational since it is not dependent on the funding that is enabled by Congressional appropriations. Be glad I told you this, since googling shutdown and Federal Reserve results in a Ron Paul-filled mine field.) Just as importantly, markets don’t particularly like uncertainty and lack of information, so the lack of jobs report is probably causing a bunch of bankers and traders to be cursing and, unlike Mr. Bernanke, drinking heavily right now.
- On a related financial note, it’s really not good from an economic perspective if the U.S. looks like it can’t get its shit together. I’m pretty sure that members of Congress can agree that this fine nation enjoys significant advantages due to the fact that the dollar is viewed as the world’s reserve currency and U.S. Treasury securities are seen as being the safest of safe assets. So don’t screw that up, or, if you do, don’t whine when China takes over as the world’s economic superpower. (I can’t decide how unreasonable that last possibility is, so I leave it here for you to ponder.)
- Hey remember that whole macroeconomic thing where we end up in a recession if people stop spending money? People generally stop spending money when their employers refuse to pay them, so we now have about 800,000 or so people who are effectively unemployed from a financial standpoint and another 2 million or so who are working but not seeing their pay for a while. One of the few things that could make this more ridiculous if it led to debate about another fiscal stimulus package. Also, don’t even get me started on the people who are braying that if the government can get by for a few weeks without a particular function then the function is totally not necessary and should be eliminated. (Yep, that is happening.)
- Because the world apparently has a sick sense of humor, far more people than expected are signing up for Obamacare, and the rest presumably haven’t done so because they’ve had their heads in the sand (or up their…never mind) for the last few years:
I was going to point out that the lawmakers who caused the shutdown on the grounds that the American people don’t want Obamacare forced upon them feel pretty silly right now, but the small part of my brain that handles realism knows better.