August 18, 2022

Economix: Podcast: Creating Jobs, and Juggling Them

The budget deficit has been grabbing many of the headlines and much of the attention in Washington. But it’s a distraction. There’s a more immediate economic problem.

So says Robert Frank, the Cornell economist, in the new Weekend Business podcast. Mr. Frank, who elaborates on this position in the Economic View column in Sunday Business, says that trimming the deficit is indeed necessary and important, but that it’s a long-term problem. For the short term, with the unemployment rate still stuck at 9.1 percent, putting people back to work is far more crucial, he says. And because increased employment would generate more national income and more government revenue, he says, failing to take action now is like setting a national bonfire and burning hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and services.

He suggests instituting a payroll tax holiday through 2012 as a politically acceptable way to stimulate the economy and create more jobs.

Juggling multiple jobs has always been a skill that writers, artists, actors and other creative people have had to master just to make ends meet, but in the weak American economy, many other people have had to learn this art, too. In a conversation in the podcast, Hannah Seligson tells Phyllis Korkki that this is particularly true for recent college graduates, many of whom have had great difficulty landing appropriate full-time employment.

In a cover article in the Sunday Business section, Ms. Seligson says that while holding several part-time jobs simultaneously may be needed to bring in enough income now, it often results in diminished earnings over the course of a long career. And part-time jobs rarely provide benefits like health care coverage, adding to the difficulties of those who manage to hold down more than one of them.

The global economy is still reeling from the effects of the subprime mortgage problems of 2006 and 2007, as Gretchen Morgenson says in a separate podcast conversation. When those mortgages began to go sour, the downturn in mortgage and asset-backed securities markets blossomed into both a full-blown housing crisis in the United States and a financial crisis throughout much of the world.

As Ms. Morgenson writes in her column in Sunday Business, a settlement has now been reached involving Morgan Keegan, a company with mutual funds that held securities based on these troubled mortgages but that failed to tell investors how risky those funds actually were, according to regulators.

Morgan Keegan, based in Memphis, reached the $200 million settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, state securities regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors lost more than $1 billion in the funds, though, and arbitration cases are continuing, Ms. Morgenson says in separate conversation in the podcast. Morgan Keegan neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement.

But she says that regulators described a detailed pattern of misleading investors and of changing fund valuations in order to prevent losses by the fund company.
In the news section of the podcast, I also discuss several other big developments. They include the decision of the United States and its allies to release strategic oil reserves into the global market, and the continuing efforts to contain the debt crisis in Greece.

You can find specific segments of the podcast at these junctures: Gretchen Morgenson on Morgan Keegan (30:11); news headlines (22:16); Hannah Seligson on multiple jobs (17:56); Robert Frank on unemployment (11:45); the week ahead (2:35).

As articles discussed in the podcast are published during the weekend, links will be added to this post.

You can download the program by subscribing from The New York Times’s podcast page or directly from iTunes.

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