President Barack Obama has a direct message for the leaders of America’s biggest companies: if you have a complaint, you can keep your complaint. "If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top," Obama said in an interview with The Economist published over the weekend. As The WSJ adds, Obama maintained that complaints from corporate CEOs in the current environment should be taken with “a grain of salt” as most policies he has implemented have "generally been friendly towards business."
“They always complain about regulation. That’s their job. Let’s look at the track record. Let’s look at the facts. Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the US economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None."
“So if, in fact, our policies have produced a record stock market, record corporate profits, 52 months of consecutive job growth, 10 million new jobs, the deficit being cut by more than half, an energy sector that’s booming, a clean-energy sector that’s booming, a reduction of carbon pollution greater than the Europeans or any other country, a housing market that has bounced back, and an unemployment rate that is now lower than it was pre-Lehman - I think you’d have to say that we’ve managed the economy pretty well and business has done okay."
“There are always going to be areas where business does not want to be regulated because regulations are inconvenient.”
In the interview, Mr. Obama said corporations should try to improve the livelihood of the middle class through higher-paying jobs. He noted that wages and incomes have been stagnant for roughly two decades.
“The reason I’m concerned about this is not in any way a punitive notion,” Mr. Obama said. “Oftentimes, you’ll hear some hedge-fund manager say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to stir class resentment’. No. Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etc. I’m not concerned about how you’re living.
“I am concerned about making sure that we have a system in which the ordinary person who is working hard and is being responsible can get ahead and are seeing modest improvements in their life prospects, if not for themselves, then certainly for the next generation,” he added.
* * *
... President Obama was later seen heading to a major fundraiser led by one of America's most successful business leaders...
* * *
So - thank me for the recovery, but don't blame me for the inequality... an ironic truth we have explained a number of times:
Inequality in the U.S. today is near its historical highs, largely because the Federal Reserve’s policies have succeeded in achieving their aim: namely, higher asset prices (especially the prices of stocks, bonds and high-end real estate), which are generally owned by taxpayers in the upper-income brackets. The Fed is doing all the work, because the President’s policies are growth-suppressive. In the absence of the Fed’s money-printing and ZIRP, the economy would either be softer or actually in a new recession.
The greatest irony is that the President is railing against inequality as one of the most important problems of the day, despite the fact that his policies are squeezing the middle class and causing the Fed – with the President’s encouragement – to engage in the radical monetary policy, which is exacerbating inequality.
This simple truth cannot be repeated often enough.