Today’s Economic Rorschach Test


Good news today! The economy was stronger than we thought in the first quarter:

In accordance with usual practice, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is announcing the preliminary estimate of the upcoming annual benchmark revision to the establishment survey employment series….The preliminary estimate of the benchmark revision indicates an upward adjustment to March 2012 Total nonfarm employment of 386,000 (0.3 percent).

Also: bad news today! The economy was weaker than we thought in the second quarter:

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the United States economy grew at an annual pace of just 1.3 percent in the second quarter of the year, showing that the recovery came close to stalling in the spring. The revision was down from the 1.7 percent rate the government reported in August.

We can now all go about our usual practice of citing whichever statistic either (a) proves we were right all along, or (b) is best for our favored presidential candidate. Alternatively, we can shrug our shoulders and (c) accept that economic data is messy, and not draw any major conclusions from any of this. I don’t expect this to be a popular option.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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