Economy

“human capital stock”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

When I casually predicted that Republicans would launch a campaign to relax or eliminate social restrictions before they would agree to pass more stimulus, I did not necessarily expect they would be as cavalier as a lizard.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, who does not actually have a clear job title as a member of the coronavirus task force, appeared on CNN yesterday where he said social restrictions are the only thing preventing our "human capital stock" from returning to work and kickstarting a V-shaped economic recovery miracle.

Speaking to CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Hassett discussed future unemployment and America's readiness to lift measures put in place to tackle the novel coronavirus spread.

"Our capital stock hasn't been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises," Hassett said.

It's unclear what Hassett meant by "human capital stock." He did not immediately respond to Business Insider to elaborate on the topic.

It's easy to dunk on Hassett for talking like a cyborg that was birthed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, but he's also wrong.

It's not as easy as everyone just returning to their old jobs tomorrow. People are still losing their jobs and businesses are still shutting down today. More retailers are declaring bankruptcy. Restaurant chains are permanently closing hundreds of locations. Ineffectual business loan programs aren't enough to keep doors open forever. Americans are less likely to go shopping or make unnecessary trips outside. There's no consumer demand that would enable 40 million people to return to work next week or even next month.

Even declaring an end to social distancing would not revive the economy which, I will remind you, was not necessarily Great Again before the coronavirus pandemic. The economy was only expected to grow by about 1.2 to 1.5 percent this year before it was upended. Trump's trade war is still on the books even now and the so-called Retail Apocalypse was already in motion before even the first American was infected.

There really is no going back to the way things were without a long slog and some structural reforms that won't happen unless Trump is replaced in November. The election could mean the difference between a recovery sometime in the next year or two or a recovery in the next four to five if not longer. Everything Trump touches turns to shit.

  • Aynwrong

    “Human capital stock”

    A more honest (however inadvertent) statement of the Republican worldview I’m not sure I’ve ever heard.

  • muselet

    I don’t want to read too much into Kevin Hassett’s casual dismissal of people as “our human capital stock,” but that’s not merely infelicitous language, that’s Hassett saying the quiet part loud. Every B-school grad, every CEO, every R got a semi when they heard that phrase.

    That’s how much regard they have for the serfs.

    –alopecia