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Return of Mass Layoffs a Grim Sign for U.S. Workers

Aaron Task
·Editor in Chief

Putting pressure on an already lousy job market, the mass layoff is making a comeback. In the past week, Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Borders announced a combined 23,000 in job cuts. (See: Another Retailer Bites the Dust: Borders Doomed by Amazon Deal, Davidowitz Says)

Those announcements follow 41,432 in planned cuts in June, up 11.6% from May and 5.3% vs. a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Meanwhile, state and local governments have cut 142,000 jobs this year, The WSJ reports, and Wall Street is braced for another round of cutbacks. This week, Goldman Sachs announced plans to let go 1000 fixed-income traders.

If these trends continue, we may soon be talking about losses in the monthly employment data -- not just disappointing growth, says Howard Davidowitz, CEO of Davidowitz & Associates

"Everything in business is confidence," Davidowitz says. "You lose confidence and businesses can't deal with that [and] who could have confidence with what's going on in Washington?"

Davidowitz is bipartisan in his criticism, calling the U.S. political system "dysfunctional and deranged." (See: "A Bunch of Morons in Washington": Howard Davidowitz Handicaps the Debt Ceiling Debate)

Still, the restructuring expert is a longtime and vocal critic of President Obama: "There has never been in a situation in my lifetime where a guy increases the debt by 40%, GDP growth is on the way down, Food Stamps are up, millions more are unemployed -- and to accomplish this we spent $4 trillion."

But it's an open question whether any president or policy mix could do much to revive the economy after the bursting of the credit bubble.

In This Time is Different, co-authors Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart demonstrate that financial crises are typically followed by severe recessions, slow recoveries, subpar growth and greater frequency of recessions in the decade following the crisis. (See: Bernanke In Denial About Economy's Fate, Vincent Reinhart Says)

"No one believes the economy, Obama or not, is going to improve," my Breakout colleague Jeff Macke says in the accompanying clip. "Time [is] the only thing that heals."

What do you think?

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com