Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IOP's Working Man Index (Musical Tribute)

I figure every amateur economic blog should have its own economic index that tracks the health of the economy. I therefore present the Illusion of Prosperity's Working Man Index.


Click to enlarge.

I won't go into the gory details of how my index is constructed (you are free to look in the "source data" link below). I will simply say that it factors in hourly wages, inflation, and nonfarm payrolls as a percent of the population.

Check out that trend line in blue. Can't you just feel the illusion of prosperity leaking out?

Kudos to the government for giving us a temporary reprieve in 2007. (The key word is temporary.)

Would anyone like to make a gentleman's bet that we won't eventually return to the red trend line? I think the odds are fairly high that we will. I might even go double or nothing on the notion that we'll overshoot it.

But what would you expect? I'm a permabear. Sigh.



Update:

I've made a slight improvement to the index. The upper end of the base period has been extended to December of 1995 (previously December of 1992).

Source Data:
St. Louis Fed: Custom Chart

17 comments:

Stagflationary Mark said...

If you believe that the prosperity from 1995 to 2000 was mostly fake (think dotcom bubble) then it is not hard to imagine that it will eventually be undone, no matter how hard the government tries to prop it up.

Their first attempt to prop it up gave us an epic housing bubble. Fantastic.

Rob Dawg said...

Oh noes! Nots the dreaded declining channel, reversion to mean plus overshoot graph. Again!

Can't we just have a friendly GDP chart that ignores deficits and population and inflation so we can feel all warm and fuzzy about the recovery?

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

Oh noes! Nots the dreaded declining channel, reversion to mean plus overshoot graph. Again!

LOL!

Oh, man. I think you have me all figured out, even including my love of sarcasm!

It's a sad state of affairs that I'm actually laughing (and I am). My girlfriend has a part-time job. How many hours have they worked her in the past month? Three hours, seriously. That's a total. I just added up all the day she worked a shift and was told to go home early due to overstaffing. Yes, day. Singular. Ouch.

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

It still amazes me how so many economic charts hint at the conclusion that the United States' prosperity peaked at around the same time as domestic oil production peaked.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig M. Brandenburg,

We put a man on the moon in 1969. That was 43 years ago. Space 1999 was about a moon base. Where is it?

1969 was also the year the Concorde was first flown. The Concorde was retired in 2003. Was it replaced with a faster version? Not even close.

Nuclear power in the United States

Historically, all US nuclear power plants, and almost all reactors, were begun in, or prior to, 1974.

That said, we are making significant advancements in illusionary reality. Seriously. I say this as a video game addict, lol. Sigh.

Rob Dawg said...

"If you believe that the prosperity from 1995 to 2000 was mostly fake (think dotcom bubble) then ..."

Then you might like this graph:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=daB

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

Here's your data presented in a different way.

Twin Bubbles

As seen in the chart, we'll be fine from here if we assume personal consumption expenditures keep rising exponentially! Hey, I know. Let's run up government debt exponentially and use it to fuel spending. Genius! It's so easy even a politician can do it.

Too much sarcasm?

Rob Dawg said...

No. For there to be too much sarcasm you'd have to say something about the massive economic multiplier assigned to deficit spending.

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

A good thing about fake boom times is that their ensuing recessions are, for most people, fake, too. Sure, millions of Americans are genuinely struggling, but even during real boom times this country has always had a substantial class of impoverished people. Rather, our recession today is mostly about middle-class people not getting to indulge in as much unnecessary consumption as they want. Meanwhile, there's a serious drought going on in our agricultural core, and there's still plenty to eat. So yeah, we're not the best of times, but we're a long ways from real hard times.

I was once told the reason that university politics are so bitter is because their stakes are so low. I think that explains a lot about why people are so angry with US economic policy these days, too.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

For there to be too much sarcasm you'd have to say something about the massive economic multiplier assigned to deficit spending.

Whew! That's a relief. I was only thinking it.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

You inspired a new post.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig M. Brandenburg,

My concern isn't really based on how bad things are. It's how bad I could see them easily become. Think Detroit on a national level. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...

So yeah, we're not the best of times, but we're a long ways from real hard times.

Are we? I wish I could be so sure. I'm already bracing for the next recession. I can't say when it will come exactly, but I doubt it will be mild when it hits.

As they say, third time's the charm. Unlike most, I think it has the power to seriously rattle the cage.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig M. Brandenburg,

You also inspired a post based on your earlier comment about the 1970s.

It got me thinking about speed records and I stumbled upon something interesting (to me at least).

I should be posting it soon. It's the next in the queue.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig M. Brandenburg,

Here's the post inspired by your earlier comment.

Craig M. Brandenburg said...

Mark,

Are we? I wish I could be so sure. I'm already bracing for the next recession. I can't say when it will come exactly, but I doubt it will be mild when it hits.

As they say, third time's the charm. Unlike most, I think it has the power to seriously rattle the cage.


I agree. On the other hand, I can't remember a time in my life when a lot of people weren't talking about doom striking down all around them. Eventually a group of those people will be right, of course, and it may even be you who calls it correctly in advance. But it seems to me that crises—the ones that impact the necessities and not just the luxuries—are exceedingly difficult to time correctly. This increasingly fake Economy of ours may limp forward a while longer yet, rendering a lot of would-be doom-preparations obsolete. Prepare for the worst, sure, but also prepare for the possibility that ho-hum life as we know it will go on longer than we think. The universe doesn't owe any of us anything.

In other news, I feel strangely satisfied to have inspired an IOP post! Am I now in the Hall of Illusory Fame?

Craig

Stagflationary Mark said...

Craig M. Brandenburg,

Am I now in the Hall of Illusory Fame?

Yes! You have been granted 15 minutes of anonymous blogging illusory fame!

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. - Andy Warhol

Real or imagined! ;)