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The Government Can't Create Jobs

Stocks in this article: C BAC WFC

With last Friday's announcement that the economy lost another 85,000 jobs in the month of December and an unemployment rate still above 10%, renewed pressure is on the federal government to create jobs.

However, the truth is that it can't create any new jobs -- at least ones that are going to last beyond any short-term project. A new study shows the government's efforts had virtually no impact on changing the jobless rate.

We endlessly hear about the unemployment rate and the need for jobs. Many economists and politicians are now talking about the need for more jobs and a second stimulus. However, we need some clear headedness about this discussion.

What exactly can government do to fix this problem of too many unemployed or under-employed? I think the honest answer is not much directly or immediately. It can only create jobs in the long term and indirectly, through following policies that enable businesses to better compete.

The government passed a $700 billion TARP program to aid the country's financial institutions in the fall of 2008. By measure of the fact that all the big banks and brokers are still around today, with much of the money repaid to the American taxpayer, this program was a success.

We can quibble about whether the big banks such as Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), and Wells Fargo (WFC) are lending enough or how much Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) are paying their top performers, but the fact remains that these institutions are still standing today. We weren't so sure they would be 12 short months ago.

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