In a rare, perhaps unprecedented placement, respected economist turned Republican-loathing hack columnist Paul Krugman garnered the lead editorial slot in Tuesday’s print edition for “Will the Jobs Report Destroy Jobs?”
It read as a desperate attempt to quash economic optimism in the wake of a shockingly positive jobs report:
On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on the employment situation in May. The report was much better than most economists expected, showing a large gain in jobs and a fall in the unemployment rate.
The thing is, a good jobs report may be bad for future policy. Why? Because the U.S. economy is still very much on life support. And a bit of good news is all too likely to encourage the usual suspects to end that life support too soon, with dire effects just a few months from now.
Before I get there, let me address one widespread concern. Were the employment numbers rigged?
"Widespread concern" fostered on Twitter by Krugman himself:
No, they weren’t. No doubt the Trump administration, which lies about everything, would fake the numbers if it could. And the Trump-appointed head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a Heritage Foundation hack, with a long history of making ludicrous claims about the effects of tax cuts, the burden of the estate tax, and more.
But the jobs report is prepared by a large, professional staff that takes its responsibilities seriously....
There’s no mention Krugman was pressed to issue a half-hearted apology for his unsubstantiated speculation -- obviously fueled by anti-Trump hatred and disappointment at the improved economic numbers -- that there was a “possibility” that the Trump administration has “gotten to the BLS” and fudged the numbers: “So the good news, despite statistical problems created by the unique economic situation -- problems the bureau acknowledges -- is real. But it’s also very limited.”
Krugman also warned “enhanced unemployment benefits” would expire July 31 and the Paycheck Protection Program was out of money:
In other words, we’re facing probable disaster in the near future unless Congress acts. But here’s the thing: Republicans just hate helping the unemployed, hate aiding states, in fact hate any kind of disaster response other than tax cuts. And the uptick in jobs gives them an excuse to indulge their hatred.
This paragraph was truly hypocritical: “It also encourages them to push for more opening, more relaxation of social distancing, despite the fact that Covid-19 is nowhere near under control and there are early indications that the pandemic may be roaring back to life as states reopen.”
Has Krugman said anything about mass nationwide protests bringing the pandemic “roaring back to life”? Nope. He continued:
So it’s all too possible that we’ll see an ugly scene in the late summer and early fall -- more government layoffs and widespread job losses in industries that have so far been relatively unscathed as desperate workers slash spending, all against the backdrop of a resurgence in hospitalizations and deaths....
This is the same Krugman who predicted that the markets would “never” recover after Trump’s election in 2016.