In the past, consumers usually talked more about cutting back than they actually did, analysts say. However, the sluggish recovery has left Americans feeling financially insecure — and more reluctant to spend.
Congress isn't likely to go on another spending spree to try to boost the economy, and the Federal Reserve has already pledged to keep interest rates historically low until mid-2013. That leaves experts worried that policymakers are running out of tools to deal with another potential recession.
For a couple weeks, the White House has hinted that President Obama would lay out his jobs agenda after Labor Day. Well, Wednesday, Obama asked House and Senate leaders if he could address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday evening — the same day and time as a Republican presidential debate. Late Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner said that won't work — how about the next night? NPR's Mara Liasson joins Robert Siegel to talk about this strange case of scheduling and politics.
Factory orders rose 2.4 percent in July on the biggest jump in demand for autos in more than eight years and a surge in commercial airplane orders. The increase suggests supply chain disruptions created by the Japan tsunami crisis are easing.
Government agencies and private employers said this month that they plan to lay off 51,114 workers, the outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported this morning. Meanwhile, ADP says private payrolls rose by 91,000.
The idea that money spent on fixing the billions in damages will be good for the overall economy is known as the "broken window fallacy," Planet Money's Adam Davidson says. In reality, spending is just shifted around.
As jobs are among Americans' most pressing concerns now, President Obama announced Monday that he has picked Princeton labor economist Alan Kreuger to be the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. To explore what Kreuger can do for the economy, Michel Martin speaks with Susan Collins, Professor of Economics and Dean of Michigan's Ford School.
It's still early to make exact pronouncements about how much damage Irene caused, and President Obama said the cleanup in many areas will be tough. But overall, the storm appears to have caused much less damage than forecasters said was possible.
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