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Article Highlights

  • The private sector appears to be wholly unaffected by the “fiscal cliff” uncertainty writes @AEIecon’s Kevin Hassett.

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  • Perhaps the private sector has learned to ignore the lunacy of Washington.

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  • The January jobs report is a mild positive, with the headline number of 157K jobs created in January.

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Today’s jobs report is a mild positive, with the headline number of 157,000 jobs created in January coming in close to the average rate of job creation we have seen since last June (163,000).  Upward revisions to past months also give us a sense that the trajectory is positive.

There has been some talk that the economy is slowing sharply, fed in part by the fourth quarter GDP growth number that came in negative.  However, the negative fourth quarter was bound to happen, as third quarter GDP was unusually high because of a massive increase in defense spending, an increase that was fully offset in Q4. While some assert that the number was unexpected, we said in this space in early December that fourth quarter GDP growth would be “close to zero.”

Smoothing through the last two quarters ups and downs, (which were, by the way, very convenient for President Obama) the economy appears to be growing at a rate of about 1.5 percent, and this jobs number suggests that the first quarter of this year continues at about that pace. The most interesting thing is that the private sector appears to have been wholly unaffected by the “fiscal cliff” uncertainty.   Perhaps everyone expected it to be resolved despite the kabuki theater, or perhaps the private sector has learned to ignore the lunacy of Washington, just as a parent can drive along blissfully while kids fight in the back seat.

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About the Author


Kevin A.
  • Kevin A. Hassett is the State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a resident scholar and AEI's director of economic policy studies.

    Before joining AEI, Hassett was a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and an associate professor of economics and finance at Columbia (University) Business School. He served as a policy consultant to the US Department of the Treasury during the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

    Hassett has also been an economic adviser to presidential candidates since 2000, when he became the chief economic adviser to Senator John McCain during that year's presidential primaries. He served as an economic adviser to the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, a senior economic adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, and an economic adviser to the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

    Hassett is the author or editor of many books, among them "Rethinking Competitiveness" (2012), "Toward Fundamental Tax Reform" (2005), "Bubbleology: The New Science of Stock Market Winners and Losers" (2002), and "Inequality and Tax Policy" (2001). He is also a columnist for National Review and has written for Bloomberg.

    Hassett frequently appears on Bloomberg radio and TV, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, NPR, and "PBS NewsHour," among others. He is also often quoted by, and his opinion pieces have been published in, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Hassett has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College.

  • Phone: 202-862-7157
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    Name: Emma Bennett
    Phone: 202-862-5862

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