(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, a rise supported by the fastest pace of consumer spending in three years. But other indicators, such as a recent stock market slide and slipping consumer confidence, aren’t as rosy. We’ll take the pulse of the nation’s economy.

Guests:
Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis for The Conference Board
Ludwig Chincarini, associate professor of finance in the University of San Francisco's School of Management
Jerry Nickelsburg, professor of economics at UCLA's Anderson School of Management

  • James R

    What are your quest opinions of
    President Obama’s idea to raise the minimum wage? My opinion is it is treating the symptom and
    not the cause of wage / salary disparity and will increase inflation.

    • jurgispilis

      During the debate to increase the minimum wage, wasn’t there an amendment offered that would mandate use the eVerify system, so that American workers would get the American jobs? Who introduced this amendment, and why did it not pass?

    • Bob Fry

      True, but:

      * The disease is extreme capitalism that’s taken over since roughly Reagan’s era, where labor is just another unprotected commodity to be bought and sold on the global free market, same as goods.

      * Treating the symptoms can sometimes help, even in medicine.

  • jurgispilis

    I gotta say the obvious, but why do we continue to import foreign workers, on the order of 125,000 per month, to take American jobs? Seems like an important step to getting the economy going is to get the unemployed back to work. We’ve been waiting for these jobs that are supposed to be created, and it ain’t happening. Why not switch to plan B?

  • EIDALM

    Whom are they kidding ,who have good economy , my be the 1% and few others ,the real fact the U S economy stinks for most Americans…So while the U S as a whole is richer than ever but the wealth is shifted to the top few while most Americans are send to the poor house with near vanished middle class and tens of millions of people are unemployed or under employed ,and tens of millions of people are on food stamps and some go to bed hungry.

  • Kurt thialfad

    At this time the administration is pushing immigration reform which will triple legal immigration (outside of the proposed amnesty). How will we we employ all these new settlers with the economy is such bad shape? Is there any way to attach the importation of foreign workers to the unemployment rate among domestic workers? Otherwise, we’re just driving down the middle class and exacerbating the gap between rich and poor in this country.

    • Skip Conrad

      The corporation want to increase the labor supply, and thus drive down wages. I doubt the panelists will mention this.

  • Dominick Elias Kaufman Simonet

    maybe we should help the economy by legalizing cannabis it could bring in millions to billions of dollars in tax revenue

    • TrainedHistorian

      Doesn’t solve the basic problem: the real wages of the bottom third are too low.

  • Steve

    I hear so much from economists, investors and academics, but I never hear information that helps me as a long term investor. What am I to do with this information? Why should I care, in the big picture about today’s GDP, unemployment and China’s situation. In 20 years will any of this matter to me?

  • EIDALM

    The U S economy is consumer based ,working Americans consume products support jobs and pay taxes and the cycle continues….But when the WALL STREET run government closed factories ,outsourced jobs ,brought in foreign worker on HB1 and HB2 all were done to enrich the Wall Street while sending most American out of jobs and right into the poor house with total destruction of the American middle class.

  • Lynn Anderson

    Companion article in this morning’s SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT, byline New York Times: with the wealth distribution moving toward the extremes that products and services, such as restaurants (Olive Garden) and department stores, such as Sears and J C Penny’s are feeling the lack of middle class customers, while the higher end products are selling to the upper 20%.

  • EIDALM

    The only way to fix the U S economy is to reverse all of the of the policies of G.W.Bush and Barack Obama regarding the WALL STREET as well as reversing all of the trade agreements including GAT ,NAFTA, KAFTA, and now PTT…..The free trade was never free and the fair trade was never fair ,all were done to enrich the WALL STREET while sending most AMERICANS to the poorhouse ,and that goes for the HB1 and HB2 as well.

  • Marian Slattery

    More jobs to make more things using more resources to support a 3.2% growth rate: Do economists calculate the real costs to the environment (ie: “necessary” pipelines, flattened mountains, polluted water) in the process of forecasting economic growth?

  • EIDALM

    The only way to fix the U S economy is to reverse all of the of the policies of G.W.Bush and Barack Obama regarding the WALL STREET as well as reversing all of the trade agreements including GAT ,NAFTA, KAFTA, and now PTT…..The free trade was never free and the fair trade was never fair ,all were done to enrich the WALL STREET while sending most AMERICANS to the poorhouse ,and that goes for the HB1 and HB2 as well.

    • Skip Conrad

      All treaties require 2/3rds of the Senate. According to the constitution. But NAFTA passed with simple majority. Wtf?

      • EIDALM

        Do you know why

        • Skip Conrad

          Not completely, since I wasn’t paying attention at that time. During the Clinton administration they did something called ‘fast track’ which limited debate, limited amendments, and allowed a treaty to pass with a simple majority. How they were able to do this without a constitutional amendment is beyond me. But I welcome contributions from anyone out there.

  • Marian Slattery

    More jobs to make more things using more resources to support a 3.2% growth rate: Do economists calculate the real costs to the environment (ie: “necessary” pipelines, flattened mountains, polluted water) in the process of forecasting economic growth?

  • EIDALM

    What makes the U S economy even worse is the fact with all of the money that was given to the WALL STREET goons by both Obama and Bush, they are not recycling it back into the society to create jobs and generate taxes…It totally short sighted policies by both the Wall Street and the government because unemployed and poor people don’t pay taxes and contribute a lot to consumer based economy and that eventually leads to the demise of The Wall Street demise even with their bubble after bubble economy.

  • Kurt thialfad

    What Jerry Nickelsburg is failing to state is the fact that it is only a small small fraction of the legions of foreign workers and students who come to the US (highest in the world incidentally) who will be the entrepreneur / innovator who will actually improve the state of the economy. The vast majority compete head-to-head with American workers for the available jobs. (Note, the tradition legal protection and preference for Americans workers was removed by the Kennedy-Feinstein sponsored “American Competativeness in the 21st Century Act” passed in October 2000)

    This tired oft repeated mantra that immigrants/foreigners start more businesses, and are more innovative than American workers can be easily explained. First, many do not have the legal right to be employed in the US, but through a loophole they can work as independent contractors i.e. small business owners. The other reason is that we incentive such activities through investor visa programs and encouraging successful foreign companies to relocate to the US.

    Does anybody remember “Yankee ingenuity”?

    I don’t hear anyone tauting the number of immigrant started businesses that fail. I would suspect the foreign business failure rate is much higher than that of companies started by Americans. But you tell me, Jerry.

    • TrainedHistorian

      Indeed. As was brought out by a caller, high skill immigrants (H1B visas etc.). are in the 100,00-200,000/year range. In contrast, almost all the current 10-11 million “undocumented” are lower-skilled, as will be the millions more that will come once our politicians legalize the current illegals, because those future undocumented know quite well that there will be no real enforcement behind nominal immigration limits, It’s beyond absurd for economists and politicians to pretend that legalizing tens of millions of these low-skilled workers–and the millions more who will follow– in exchange for increasing high skilled workers by another 100,000 is going to help the economy much. And it will certainly make things worse for those already here in the lowest economic rungs because they have to compete against all those new, imported low skilled workers.

      Actually, it’s no longer true that immigrants are more entrepeneurial than Americans. See the study “Immigrants neither more nor less entrepeneurial than Native-Born.” (Immigrants were slightly more entrepeneurial up to the 1970s, but that is no longer the case). Our leaders need to stop repeating the myth that Silicon Valley was created single-handedly by immigrants. More important was US government investment, through Department of Defense and higher education, in American citizens, who could earn relatively high wages in part because immigration levels did not depress wages.

      • Skip Conrad

        The H1-B visa requires only a US bachelors degree or equivalent. I would imagine most earn less than 100K.

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