Jeremy Hobson: Meanwhile, European leaders are gathering today for yet another summit to save the euro.
And that’s where we’ll start with Diane Swonk, chief economist with Mesirow Financial. She’s with us live as always from Chicago. Good morning.
Diane Swonk: Good morning.
Hobson: So Diane, yet another summit to save the euro. Any expectations this time?
Swonk: You know, it’s kind of like watching a trainwreck in slow motion — you just hope they don’t derail, and that’s the best hopes we have now. By Monday, let’s hope the train’s still on the track.
Hobson: What about in this country? The train may be on the track, but it is moving slowly. We heard this morning that GDP for first quarter was just 1.9 percent.
Swonk: And it looks like it’s going to be another 1.9 percent in the current quarter, which given the jobless claims we’ve seen today, tells us it’s just not enough. It’s not enough to bring down unemployment, and in fact, one of the reasons the jobless claims are lower than they were a year ago — although higher than they were at the beginning of the year — it’s because people are no longer extending those unemployment insurance plans. It’s not really just a cessation of layoffs.
Hobson: Now of course, we’re just minutes away from the expected Supreme Court decision on health care reform, and I want to get your thoughts, Diane. As we head into this historic moment, what are you thinking about?
Swonk: One of the biggest issues for me is the major change we’ve seen in terms of health care consumption in the United States. Health care has now become a discretionary spending — consumers are not paying as much as 50 percent of their copay, so they’re not paying as much as 50 percent of the prescriptions they already have at pharmacies. They’re cutting back on critical drugs at a time which could mean more hospital visits, more emergency car business down the road. This is the most fundamental shift in health care consumption we’ve seen in the last 40 years, and it’s besides any change in the insurance policy.
Hobson: Diane Swonk, chief economist with Mesrow Financial. Thanks as always.
Swonk: Thank you.
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