Material and commentaries published in the past may or may not be helpful in analyzing current economic or financial market activity. Please note publishing date when reviewing materials.  Please email [email protected] for our current thoughts or to reach an advisor.


Deficits & Lame Ducks, Part 4

David R. Kotok
Sun Apr 14, 2024

CNBC offered this headline: “Biden says U.S. economy is world’s best. Trump calls it a ‘cesspool.’ Data is clear.” Hat tip to John L for raising the question.  
Let’s see. World’s best?   
There has always been a debate about who’s “best.” But the US economy is certainly strong, with the unemployment rate below 4%, inflation trending down and in the lower single digits (3%-3.5%). It is trending towards the Fed’s 2% target, although it’s not there yet. We expect the Fed to continue to wait on interest rate cuts until inflation gets to a lower level. There are millions more job openings available than workers seeking jobs (see the recent JOLTS report: Were it not for the immigrant workers, our American nation would be in serous labor-shortage trouble, needing to exacerbate inflation further by raising wages high enough to tempt native workers sitting on the sidelines.  
TLR Analytics characterized the employment report:   

Golly, that Great American Jobs machine is tireless. Employers added 303,000 jobs in March, 31,000 above the average of the previous three months. Private employment rose by 232,000, 26,000 above its trailing three-month average. Mining and logging were up 3,000 (which we could say is three times its trailing average gain, but these are small numbers); construction, 39,000 (two-thirds above average); wholesale trade, 9,000 (a reversal of its recent average loss of 1,000); retail, 18,000 (a quarter short of its average); transportation and warehousing, 1,000 (infinitely above its average of 0); finance, 3,000 (a turnaround from an average loss of 1,000); professional and business services, 7,000 (a quarter its average); private education and health, 88,000 (slightly above average, led by health care); leisure and hospitality, 49,000 (a bit short of twice its average, with bars and restaurants particularly strong); and other services, 16,000 (over twice its average, led by personal and laundry services). No major sector was in the red, but several were unchanged, notably manufacturing (vs. an average gain of 3,000) and information (6,000 below average). Government added 71,000, 5,000 above its recent average, with local government accounting for over two-thirds the gain.   

Now, the “cesspool.” Pardon the truncation, but the cesspool characterization is a bunch of political cr-p. Nevertheless, younger voters are proving a challenge for Democrats. Jarrell Dillard at Bloomberg writes:


They’re weighed down by student debt. They’re shut out of the housing market. They’re hit by higher costs of living. And they want President Joe Biden to listen…. A larger share of young voters say economic issues are their top priority (Data compares Oct. 2020 to Jan. 2024, source: Gallup). That concern is being reflected in polls. Trump is currently leading the president 47% to 40% with voters 18-34 in swing states, according to a March Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll. By contrast, Biden won 61% of voters under 30 (in the) last cycle. Though the November election is months off and attitudes can shift, there’s no doubt Biden will need support from Generation Z and Millennial voters to win. Incumbents get the blame when voters are dissatisfied with the economy. The challenge for Biden is that even though economic growth has been solid in the past year, the job market is robust and the inflation rate is cooling, polls after polls show many people don’t feel like it.  
Source: (Hat tip to Bruce Mehlman)

Let’s get to the real pack of political hypocrites, in the House of Representatives. How many times have you heard about the debt and deficits from your congressperson or a candidate? My filters are catching dozens a day from all sources. 
Well, “Open The Books” ( does the detailed research on government spending, debt, and deficits and is an independent watchdog. The lists below name the names and cite breaches of campaign and other political promises.


At least, please open the links and read the lists.  

Here’s the Democrats: “‘The Squad’ Earmarked $224 Million Since 2023 – Led By AOC, It’s Pork Barrel Spending by The Democratic Socialists,” Example: “Representative Ocasio-Cortez earmarked $1.2 million for a new building for the International Muslim Women’s Empowerment Project. Its founder teaches a ‘hijab grab’ self-defense move involving a ‘kick to the groin.’”  
Here’s the Republicans: “House Freedom Caucus Members Earmarked Nearly $1 Billion From Taxpayers,” Example: Rep. Gaetz nicked the taxpayer’s pocket for $50,000,000.  
My own congressman, Greg Steube, sends me weekly emails about how wonderfully he is representing me and about how he is a budget and spending watchdog – he is on the miscreants list. Note that the House Freedom Caucus (I call them the Chaos Caucus, as they were tagged by Republican Karl Rove in a WSJ editorial) is responsible for $1 billion of earmarks. The Democratic Fearsome 8 are happily picking the taxpayers for $¼ billion.  
I have been writing about debt, deficits, and politics. But in the end, we are our own worst enemies. When the political party affiliation is more important than the national policy, we are in trouble in America, IMO.   
Here’s a list of the first three missives in this series, plus today's addition:   
“Deficits & Lame Duck POTUS,”   
“Deficits & Lame Ducks, Part 2,”   
“Deficits & Lame Ducks, Part 3,”   
“Deficits & Lame Ducks, Part 4,”



Links to other websites or electronic media controlled or offered by Third-Parties (non-affiliates of Cumberland Advisors) are provided only as a reference and courtesy to our users. Cumberland Advisors has no control over such websites, does not recommend or endorse any opinions, ideas, products, information, or content of such sites, and makes no warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of their content. Cumberland Advisors hereby disclaims liability for any information, materials, products or services posted or offered at any of the Third-Party websites. The Third-Party may have a privacy and/or security policy different from that of Cumberland Advisors. Therefore, please refer to the specific privacy and security policies of the Third-Party when accessing their websites.


Sign up for our FREE Cumberland Market Commentaries


Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.