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Sunday, December 4, 2016

The new jobs numbers show unemployment declining slightly from 9.2 to 9.1 percent, with the economy adding well over 100,000 jobs, the minimum needed to keep pace with population growth and prevent the rate rising. After such a massive stock market collapse this week, the numbers were badly needed to stanch the bleeding.

And yet despite some initial rebounds here and abroad, markets remain stuck in neutral — and S&P, threatening to downgrade the United States’ credit rating for some time, took the plunge Friday, an unprecedented development.

Confidence has been badly shaken, and progressives are looking around and thinking for the first time in a long time that their president may be a one-termer. Political scientists love to point to the correlation between the jobs rate and presidential elections, and it is indeed strong — though real income growth seems to be the greater factor. Will Americans remember all those invisible payroll tax cuts Obama provided over the years? Invisible because they made themselves known only as small increases in take-home pay.

The economy is crying out for more fiscal stimulus, but also a more activist Fed, specifically one that sets a high inflation target and prints more money, rather than hawkishly worrying about a potential inflationary disaster that doesn’t exist. And the administration might do well to appoint some nominees to the Board of Governors and pressure that body to act.

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