15 Jun 2011

Obama Figures Out Why Unemployment Is So High

Economics 14 Comments

Actually if you watch the video, it’s not nearly as bad as some of his critics are making it out to be. He’s not saying, “We should ban ATMs and airport kiosks.” Rather, he has now become an Austrian, and is endorsing the structural explanation for unemployment.

14 Responses to “Obama Figures Out Why Unemployment Is So High”

  1. Luke says:

    You know deep down he wants to outlaw ATMs and kiosks though. I also don’t like the “we need to figure out where to invest”, when the we includes my money without my input.

  2. John Becker says:

    It’s funny how Obama said he needed a commission to allocate capital to the industries that will create jobs in the future. That’s what markets are for Comrade Obama!! On an unrelated note, how many days do you think it will be before Scott Sumner starts blogging about the need for QE3?

    • Tel says:

      My guess: less than 2 months if they meet up with some hardline resistance to their “just skip a few interest payments” idea, and maybe 4 to 6 months if they manage to soften up the bondholders to the idea of a payment holiday.

      • Anonymous says:

        I bet Sumner’s chafing inside about how “tight” money is right now. To loosen it why not just print 14 trillion and pay off the national debt. Kill two birds with one stone. Then they could follow some MMT policy and raise taxes so that we have almost no inflation lol

  3. Ryan says:

    He’s definitely going at least as far as Kling on restructuring.

    Either that, or his PR guys are telling him to hijack Ron Paul’s lingo.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      “PR guys are telling him to hijack Ron Paul’s lingo.”

      Dude, did you watch the CNN GOP debates? It is almost as if every one of those powers stole RP’s act; well, other than war and conservative religious issues, of course (gotta pander to the core).

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        I must say, as a former Navy man myself, all of them made me think that they were entirely fake when they tried to blow smoke up that Navy-dad’s arse. To be honest, I don’t know a single vet or active-duty member of the military that feels comfortable when anybody starts in with the glamorizing BS. RP didn’t fall into that mold. And, oddly enough, he was the only veteran on the stage. He cut through the BS and declared that he would bring my shipmates home… That’s all I wanted to hear.

  4. Blackadder says:

    At first I thought Bob was joking about Obama having accepted the Austrian explanation for unemployment. But some of the comments seem to be taking the idea seriously (and Arnold Kling likewise seems eager to associate himself with the President’s remarks).

    So I’ll just ask: what exactly is supposed to be Austrian about Obama’s comments? Surely the Austrian view isn’t that unemployment is being caused by ATM machines?

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      I personally don’t make much of it. He’s a politician, and he is feeling out the public. That’s all (IMO).

  5. Strat2131 says:


    Its Pseudo Austrian.

    At least he recognises that unemployment is a result of the mismatch between consumer wants (ATM’s) and the labor that goes into making them (eg. Not Bank Tellers.)

    Its a big change in rhetoric from the 08′ days, where the focus was on “jump starting” the economy and getting construction workers back onto the field. As long as he doesn’t mention Aggregate Demand (or references to jump starting cars, priming the pump, boosting the economy etc) hes heading in the right direction.

    The next milestone is when they start agreeing that you cant “create” jobs. (short of inventing new things for people to do like Seat warmers on the train etc)

  6. Blackadder says:


    If Austrians believe technological change causes lots of long term unemployment, then it’s hard to see why they are such fans of the market.

    Obama’s statement seems like a classic case of make-work bias in action. I’m surprised that Austrians of all people would want to associate themselves with it.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      What Austrians have been attempting to associate themselves with President Obama? Surely, I know that I am horrible at catching a joke (thanks Gene), but I am most certainly convinced that Dr. Murphy was speaking “tongue-in-cheek”. Though, I would not doubt that Obama is leaning toward a more Austrian view in his statements, because as a politician his job is to BS everybody and feel the trends. But, I certainly would not say that ANY Austrian is attempting to associate themselves with the President, rather it is the reverse (and, it is as genuine as a unicorn flying in the sky).

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Yeah, Strat2131’s initial comment was far more “psuedo Marxian” than Austrian, but I cannot fault him; what school isn’t Marxist these days (other than the Austrian school)? Of course, that was a slight jab.

      In either case, I am more than pleased to see that people are reading and studying economic works these days, it is long overdue. If they subscribe to a school other than yours, debate them; I love to see a renaissance of thinking people- even if we don’t agree. After all, each of us had just as much ill-knowledge in years past.

      I would much rather see a person attempt to understand specialized disciplines than sit in front of the TV watching “insert show here”, even if they are wrong. It is quite encouraging in my mind (people actually thinking). Do you not agree?

  7. ekeyra says:

    I cant wait to hear how his teleprompter put all of his speech writers out of work.