Thursday, October 6, 2011

SNAPpy? Surely Not.

I occasionally look at the US Dept. of Agriculture data on food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP) because, in my opinion, it provides a much better "on the ground" feel of the real economy.

It certainly doesn't look snappy.

As of July 2011 a record one in seven Americans, or 14.5% of the country's entire population, was receiving food aid.  That's far above the 9% mean over the last 30 years.


  1. Even more sobering for me was to look at the free/reduced lunch statistics for my local elementary school. We have moved from this particular district, but I lived there for the period for which the data is shown. This particular school has an attendance area of one town with a mean household income of about $82K (maybe 2/3), and the other $220K (1/3).

    From 2% 2001-3, to 12% in 2010. Our "system" is broken.

  2. Here's a telling stat: "...median real household income, as gleaned from the CPS, indexed to January 2000=100." is down over 10%.

    You think the Wall Street bonuses have dropped 10%? I'll let you guess that one.

  3. Good opinion piece by Martin Hutchinson on the themes of Occupy Wall St, and how they might play out in the future.

    His main criticism is of the idea of a resource based economy:

    I wonder how that might fit in with an energy based currency.

  4. @shtove, re: resource based economy.

    My Greenback currency idea is very far from the above concept. I propose that the Fed targets money supply growth, not to exceed the rate of growth of renewable energy supply as a percentage of total energy consumption.


  5. Food stamp distribution is a great way to get a real-feel. It's pretty scary isn't it? There are so many major corporations sitting on piles of cash right now, yet nothing floating around for the consumer to spend.

    It's a stalemate if I've ever seen one. Someone's got to blink and get this economy rolling again.

    Crazy times.


  6. Hi,

    I hesitate to recommend reading to others: but ... ...

    "The Long 20th Century: Money, Power and the Origin of our Times"

    Giovanni Arrighi.

    Seems to be a good, historical account of the lead-up to our current economic and financial mess. Originally published in 1994, but the new version has been updated to 2010.


  7. Hell, If I remember you declared a buy on Greek debt few months back. Any change in opinion?

    - Greenie

  8. Re: Greek debt "buy" call.

    Mea culpa, big time. I never imagined that Greek and EU politicians both, at the same time, screw up things so royally. As usual, I thought that political "leaders" were more enlightened and courageous than they turned out to be.

    There are no Thatchers, no Kohls, no Mitterands around this time. Even Jacques Delors is in retirement, though he is - at last - speaking his mind.

    But even in the US things are no better. The political and economic leadership, from both sides of the aisle, is woefully inadequate to say the least.

    I fear that we are approaching a catastrophe that will require a modern-day FDR equivalent.

  9. " I fear that we are approaching a catastrophe that will require a modern-day FDR equivalent. "

    I'm (still) convinced Obama has it in him, but do the Dems?

    Fire in the belly, ice in the head required for 2012. Sadly I think they have it the other way around.

  10. Well, at least this explains what is driving up the price of Fancy Feast.

  11. This is the record that surprisingly, 14.5% rather than the entire population of Americans, receive food aid. How can this happen?