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By Gaius Publius on 3/27/2012 01:30:00 PM

Via a column by Paul Krugman, we are led by clicks to a number of great ALEC resources. (ALEC background here and here.)

If you're brand new to ALEC, here's a taste from SourceWatch.org (my emphasis and paragraphing):

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.

Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills.

They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.)

[Corporations] fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.

ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

Learn more at ALECexposed.org.
This is how the Movement Conservative project has gained control of many state legislatures. Think of it — over 1000 ALEC-authored bills introduced in the states each year. Who else has that kind of power?

So let's look at a few lists.

■ The following names the 23 corporations on ALEC's corporate board. These are the Daddy Dinos, the Bigs; the other corporations (below) are just associate predators.

Listed with the names are the company's total lobbying expenditures, not just via ALEC, but its entire reach. (Note that the 2011 totals are through June only — just a half-year's worth of politician-purchases).

Altria Group12,770,000$10,360,000$5,480,000
American Bail Coalition$0$80,000$35,000
AT&T Inc.$14,729,673$15,395,078$11,690,000
Bayer AG$8,478,512$4,903,640$3,380,000
Coca-Cola Co.$9,390,000$7,352,795$3,450,000
Diageo PLC$2,250,000$2,620,000$1,100,000
Energy Future Holdings Corp.$3,974,014$4,731,228$2,770,000
Exxon Mobil$27,430,000$12,450,000$6,820,000
Intuit Inc.$2,142,000$2,249,000$1,589,000
Johnson & Johnson$6,560,000$6,700,000$3,106,000
Koch Industries$12,450,000$8,070,000$4,060,000
Kraft Foods$3,390,000$3,000,000$1,450,000
Peabody Energy$5,835,000$6,591,000$3,727,000
Pfizer Inc.$25,819,268$13,380,000$7,440,000
Reed Elsevier Inc.$2,130,000$1,670,000$810,000
Reynolds American$4,556,215$4,323,293$1,728,305
Salt River Project$1,170,000$870,000$370,000
State Farm Insurance$3,420,000$3,620,000$1,540,000
United Parcel Service$8,430,526$5,587,349$2,642,399
Wal-Mart Stores$7,390,000$6,160,000$4,070,000

Most of these names should be familiar to you. Koch Industries is obviously the Koch Bros. Wal-Mart is the Walton family. The Kochs and Waltons are two of the eighteen families behind all the "death tax" propaganda.

ALEC also has many for-profit corporations, law firms, governmental groups, and non-profits as members or supporters. Click to see.

The for-profit corp list is huge; your consumer dollars at work. Note the CATO Institute, that "insufficiently hackish" lover of democracy, on the non-profit supporter list.

I offer this list and these links as reference — if the heat on ALEC turns higher, you may be glad to keep it handy, or bookmarked.

What you can do — There are campaigns starting, thanks to the Trayvon killing connection. This is one; I'm sure there are or will be others. Feel free to lend a hand; it's not dark yet....

This recession related topic is being discussed at The Recession.
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As the economies around the world teeter once again, with many already having slipped into "Growth Recession" if not outright technical recession, and with many more looking at the real possibility of outright recession in 2012 and 2013, "the recession" in 2011 was seeming mild by way of comparison to what could be lurking just around the corner.

Will "Recession 2012" look as bad as "The Great Recession" of 2007-2009? Could we skirt by this time without a full-on economic death spiral? Will the economy get better by election day? Or will Obama lose the election for economic reasons? (Presidential elections are usually won or lost for base economic reasons in this country, after all).

Stay tuned. I think it's fair to say that it is going to continue to be a pretty wild ride for the world economy for some time to come. Recession 2013? Recession 2014? Did the Great Recession ever really end in the first place? Many think not!

ECRI Weekly Leading Index
Has a moderate lead over cyclical turns in U.S. economic activity. Data begins in 1967.

Recent Data

Date Level Growth

Jun 29 '12 121.9 -2.9
Jun 22 '12 121.7 -3.2
Jun 15 '12 121.5 -3.2
Jun 08 '12 122.1 -2.8

ECRI Calendar

March 22, 2012
Frankfurt Conference

ECRI will participate in the Bloomberg Sovereign Debt Conference in Frankfurt on March 22, 2012.

Crude Oil 1Yr Chart


State Coincident Index
3-Month Change

Is your state essentially in expansion or recession?
Lt Green-Dark Green: Growing-Faster.
Gray: No growth.
Pink-Dark Red: Contracting-Faster.

What is the
definition of recession?

According to the laypress, and even many economists, a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP (Gross Domestic Product). While this very simple definition is usually the case during recessions, it is not always so.

Most experts now acknowledge that GDP alone is an insufficient determinant of recession.

For one, GDP is often revised several quarters - even years - later, as more complete information becomes available that changes the components of the earlier, initial GDP estimates in what can be very substantial ways.

For another, not all serious downturns exact as serious a toll on GDP. Often, the decline is much more pronounced in GDI (Gross Domestic Income) and/or employment. If the income or employment of a nation is undergoing a pronounced, pervasive and prolonged decline even if for whatever various reasons its GDP may be holding up, is it not foolish to deny that a recession is underway?

For these reasons and others, the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), the official arbiter of recessions and expansions in the United States, determines whether or not the US has fallen into recession using a much more holistic approach.

As the NBER explains it:
Q: The financial press often states the definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP. How does that relate to the NBER's recession dating procedure?

Most of the recessions identified by our procedures do consist of two or more quarters of declining real GDP, but not all of them. In 2001, for example, the recession did not include two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP. In the recession beginning in December 2007 and ending in June 2009, real GDP declined in the first, third, and fourth quarters of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009. The committee places real Gross Domestic Income on an equal footing with real GDP; real GDI declined for six consecutive quarters in the recent recession.

Q: Why doesn't the committee accept the two-quarter definition?

The committee's procedure for identifying turning points differs from the two-quarter rule in a number of ways. First, we do not identify economic activity solely with real GDP and real GDI, but use a range of other indicators as well. Second, we place considerable emphasis on monthly indicators in arriving at a monthly chronology. Third, we consider the depth of the decline in economic activity. Recall that our definition includes the phrase, "a significant decline in activity." Fourth, in examining the behavior of domestic production, we consider not only the conventional product-side GDP estimates, but also the conceptually equivalent income-side GDI estimates. The differences between these two sets of estimates were particularly evident in the recessions of 2001 and 2007-2009.

Q: How does the committee weight employment in determining the dates of peaks and troughs?

In the 2007-2009 recession, the central indicators–real GDP and real GDI–gave mixed signals about the peak date and a clear signal about the trough date. The peak date at the end of 2007 coincided with the peak in employment. We designated June 2009 as the trough, six months before the trough in employment, which is consistent with earlier trough dates in the NBER business-cycle chronology. In the 2001 recession, we found a clear signal in employment and a mixed one in the various measures of output. Consequently, we picked the peak month based on the clear signal in employment, as well as our consideration of output and other measures. In that cycle, as well, the dating of the trough relied primarily on output measures.

Q: Isn't a recession a period of diminished economic activity?

It's more accurate to say that a recession–the way we use the word–is a period of diminishing activity rather than diminished activity. We identify a month when the economy reached a peak of activity and a later month when the economy reached a trough. The time in between is a recession, a period when economic activity is contracting. The following period is an expansion. As of September 2010, when we decided that a trough had occurred in June 2009, the economy was still weak, with lingering high unemployment, but had expanded considerably from its trough 15 months earlier.

What is a
"Double Dip Recession"?

In the most general sense a Double Dip Recession occurs when an economy falls back into contraction for at least a couple of months (usually at least six) after a relatively brief expansion.

By this definition, the recession of 1981-82 which followed a year-long expansion after the very short, two quarter's long 1980 recession, seems to qualify. Also by this broad definition, the 1937 recession that occurred four years after the end of the 1929-1933 recession also qualifies. While each of those were technically "new" recessions, they happened so soon after their predecessors that many people tend to think of the separate 1980 & 1981-82 recessions as one nasty, long recession. Similarly, most people think of the 1929-1933 & 1937 recessions as encompassing "The Great Depression."

Another definition of a "Double Dip Recession" would be that of a recession which technically has not ended, and was only punctuated by a quarter or twos worth of head-fake rise in GDP. Many recessions throughout history have had such false hopes, only to swoon back down into contraction, until they finally came to an end.

List of Recessions:
Post-1900 US Recessions

Mo/Yr Started Duration
Sep 1902 - 23 Months
May 1907 - 13 Months
Jan 1910 - 24 Months
Jan 1913 - 23 Months
Aug 1918 - 7 Months
Jan 1920 - 18 Months
May 1923 - 14 Months
Oct 1926 - 13 Months
Aug 1929 - 43 Months
May 1937 - 13 Months
Feb 1945 - 8 Months
Nov 1948 - 11 Months
Jul 1953 - 10 Months
Aug 1957 - 8 Months
Apr 1960 - 10 Months
Dec 1969 - 11 Months
Nov 1973 - 16 Months
Jan 1980 - 6 Months
Jul 1981 - 16 Months
Jul 1990 - 8 Months
Mar 2001 - 8 Months
Dec 2007 - 18 Months

What is
Gross National Happiness (GNH)?

An alternate measure of a nation's wealth was conceptualized several decades ago as a means of cutting through the overemphasis on materialism of traditional wealth measures, and seeing the bigger picture.

According to GNHUSA.Org

  Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an indicator developed in Bhutan in the Himalayas, based on the concept elaborated in 1972 by the then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Since then, the kingdom of Bhutan, with the support of UNDP (UN Development Program), began to put this concept into practice, and has attracted the attention of the rest of the world with its new formula to measure the progress of a community or nation.

GNH is based on the premise that the calculation of "wealth" should consider other aspects besides economic development: the preservation of the environment and the quality of life of the people. The goal of a society should be the integration of material development with psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects - all in harmony with the Earth.

The Four Pillars of GNH

  • the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
  • the preservation and promotion of cultural values
  • the conservation of the natural environment, and
  • the establishment of good governance.


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