I wrote last week about how the economic relief package known as the CARES Act is severely lacking. One particularly troubling aspect is that the Small Business Administration is tasked with overseeing a $350 billion dollar fund designed to provide cash for small businesses so they can avoid laying people off. This is problematic because it’s something like 10 times the volume of emergency loans they usually deal with on an annual basis.
The devil is in the details, but the gist of that fund, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, is that businesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a loan. At the end of the set period of time, if the employer has not laid anyone off, the loan is completely forgiven. There are of course a host of details about how much money a business can receive and some other things but they are irrelevant for the purposes of this post.
For a variety of reasons, I pay close attention to the manufacturing sector. I think it’s partly because I grew up in Cleveland and still have a lot of friends who work in shops and factories — many who are already out of work. Although we’ve more or less transitioned to a services-based economy, making stuff is still a core aspect of the American identity. We all know the service sector is taking a massive blow. We can see the stores closed, we can’t go to our favorite bar. But the manufacturing economy is less visible — except to those in it. The rest of us will feel the impact down the road when this loss of productivity manifests in myriad ways.
This morning the Institute of Supply Management released its March manufacturing report. As expected, it was pretty bad: Reduced demand, a slowing supply chain, reduced employment. But I want to highlight a couple specific data points. Read More
In times of crisis, the kind of economic data that is ordinarily only of interest to economists and finance pros draws more attention from the rest of us as we look for signs of what is going on, and what is to come. Last week’s jobless claims number, the highest in United States history, was a sobering look at what is in store economically.
This week we’ll get another round of jobless claims numbers, along with looks at manufacturing and service jobs that will help us understand the velocity and depth of the economic crisis we are facing.
This morning the Labor Department announced 3.28 million people filed for unemployment, the largest one-week number in United States history. This is a shocking number. It beat analyst estimates by nearly one million claims. It’s four times the previous record.
Yet, the worst is certainly ahead of us.
We often hear from readers (sometimes, painfully, former readers) that they wish we covered climate change more, among other issues. And we do, too. It’s one of the most important political stories of our lifetimes.
Historically, TPM has favored news and investigations on which we can break ground where other outlets haven’t. We’ve been less likely to cover larger, slower moving, but ultimately existentially critical stories.
But last week, we devoted a significant amount of our resources to focusing on the climate story. And it was our membership model that allowed us to do it.
So please take a moment to join if you’re not already a member.
I was on vacation last week when I got the news that the TPM Union had ratified the contract we’d agreed upon. Without a doubt, the union makes TPM a better company. Now that I’m back in the office, I wanted to talk a bit about why.
Some of TPM’s longtime readers may know me but most of you will not so let me introduce myself. I’m Joe Ragazzo, executive publisher at TPM. In my previous life I was a journalist but moved over to the “business” side because it upset me how the news industry was dying and I hoped in some small way I could help improve it.
We have three simple goals at TPM. We want to do great journalism. We want to be the best media company at which to work. We want to make enough money to do the first two things.
Bruce Bartlett has spent many years in government, including service on the staffs of Representatives Ron Paul and Jack Kemp and Senator Roger Jepsen. He has been executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, and deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. A New York Times best-selling author, he’s published more than 2,100 articles in major national publications.
Bruce will be in the Hive to chat about his new book, “The Truth Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks,” which focuses on the concept of “fake news” and offers solutions to combat it. Post your questions and join us on Thursday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.