Saturday, June 7, 2008

On the Other Hand ...

French unemployment is down again; U.S. unemployment is up. In the first linked article, Bénédicte Constans of the Institut Montaigne argues that the French figures probably paint too rosy a picture of the actual situation; in the second article Paul Krugman argues that the U.S. figures probably paint too bleak a picture. Both emphasize a need to look at the participation rate and to worry about anomalies in the counting of the unemployed. I think it was Harry Truman who is supposed to have said "Get me a one-handed economist!" after hearing too often the familiar refrain, "On the one hand ... but on the other hand ..." Still, it seems clear that it's too soon to pop the corks on the champagne bottles in France, while Americans are probably well-advised to follow Hillary's lead and stow the champagne bottles for now in favor of a beer and a bracing shot of cheap whiskey.