PLEDGE NOW
Economic Outlook: Are Happy Days Here Again?

After years of tough economic news, the economy seems to be picking up and pulling up interest rates. We look ahead at what the eventual end of rock-bottom interest rates will mean.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reacts as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, before a Joint Economic Committee hearing on "The Economic Outlook." (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reacts as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, before a Joint Economic Committee hearing on “The Economic Outlook.” (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

It is a pregnant moment in the US economy.  Unemployment down a bit.  Housing up.  Stock market on a tear.  Bonds in a tizzy.  Everybody watching the Fed.  Is this, at last, the return?  The revival?  We’ve been promised “green shoots” before, and seen things flatline.

This time the optimism and evidence seems stronger, but so does a weird unease.  If this is the upturn, what happens to interest rates?  To inflation?  To the Fed’s towering balance sheet.  To your job?

This hour, On Point:  the change in the economic weather and whether this is really it… the road to good times.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Barbera, co-director of the Center for Financial Economics at Johns Hopkins University and author of “The Cost Of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem And Stabilizing Our Economic Future.”

Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2009.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect magazine. Senior fellow at the liberal think tank Demos. Author of “Debtor’s Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Economy: Doing Better, Can It Last? — “You can make an economic forecast complicated. Or you can make it simple. Let’s do simple. How is the U.S. economy doing now? Better. What’s the near-term outlook? Cloudy. What’s the Federal Reserve going to do about it? That depends on whether those clouds give way to sunny skies or it starts to rain again.”

The New York Times: This Time, A Growing Economy Stirs Unease — “Those who see a black cloud behind every silver lining can point to plenty of negatives in a good economy. Bond investors will lose money as the value of long-term bonds declines. That will mean that a lot of people are poorer. Banks own a lot of Treasuries, and some of them could suffer as the value of those bonds decline. Perhaps rising interest rates will prompt a sell-off in the stock market. Perhaps they will choke off the recovery in housing.”

Washington Post: Interest Rates Are Rising! Here’s Why We Should Be Thrilled. — “The bond market bears had a pretty spectacular May, as the 10-year rate rose from 1.63 percent on May 1 to 2.15 percent Friday. (The price of bonds moves in the opposite direction of yields). Is it a moment of reckoning that will stamp out the recovery or presage dangerous inflation or massive losses by bond investors? Or is it something more positive? Let’s look at the evidence.”

 The Wall Street Journal: The Federal Reserve’s Policy Dead End — “Quantitative easing, or what the Fed prefers to call long-term asset purchases, is supposed to stimulate the economy by increasing share prices, leading to higher household wealth and therefore to increased consumer spending. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has described this as the “portfolio-balance” effect of the Fed’s purchase of long-term government securities instead of the traditional open-market operations that were restricted to buying and selling short-term government obligations.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie buttons his coat as he leaves Gilchrist Metal Company after a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment