Wait. There’s Another Economic Indicator That’s Plummeted in 2018.

Hold on. An hour ago I wrote about mortgage applications being down 22 percent in 2018. “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other important economic indicator that’s down 22 percent over just the past year,” I said. “In fact, I can’t think of anything that’s close.”

Well, a few minutes after I wrote that the Federal Reserve set me straight:

A 20+ point drop in the business activity index is roughly a decline of a third. A 40-point drop in the business climate index—that is, from 40 to zero—is about a 100 percent decline. Now, these numbers obviously bounce around a lot, and even a 100 percent decline is fairly common. Still, it ain’t good.

I don’t really understand this, unless it’s nothing more than a decline from an unsustainable burst of optimism at the beginning of the year. In any case, it’s pretty obvious that the Republican tax cut hasn’t been well received by the business community. Sure, any tax cut is good, but after watching it in action for the past year they’re really bearish on the future business climate. They’re obviously seeing something that the rest of us aren’t.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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