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Tag Archives: Labor Market

Retail Sales’ Amazon Pick Up

The rules of interpretation that apply to the payroll reports also apply to other data series like retail sales. The monthly changes tend to be noisy. Even during the best of times there might be a month way off trend. On the other end, during the worst of times there will be the stray good month. What matters is the balance continuing in each direction – more of the good vs. more of the bad. Or when what seems to be a good month is less good than it used to be. Retail sales had managed...

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Weakening Labor Market Now In All The Data

The JOLTS series had always been a seemingly superfluous set of labor numbers for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The agency wanted to go deeper into employment when it originally presented these other series in 2002. The unemployment rate seemed accurate enough, but it came at the labor market solely from the view of labor supply. As the BLS said of its new set of figures in their initial publication: The number of unfilled jobs—used to calculate the job openings rate—is an important...

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GDP Profit Revisions Really Highlight The Vulnerabilities

You can see it in the GDP numbers, even before they were revised. Globally synchronized growth was always less impressive than what it was made out to be. It’s as true overseas as in the US. The upswing was endlessly hyped, but there was so much less behind it in reality. Reflation #2 was a whole lot better than Reflation #3, not that the second one made the difference. In this disparity, though, you can see why the bond market was never fooled. Globally synchronized growth never had a...

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Housing: Going Wrong In The Few Things That Were Going Right

It certainly doesn’t feel like a bubble. We’ve heard about home prices in many cities skyrocketing like there has been one, still there does seem to be something different. If it is a bubble, it sure isn’t the same as the last one, the big one fifteen years ago. Much is missing this time around. For one thing, prices are disconnected from volume. For all the talk of a boom in the economy the housing sector never joined in. Not really. I wrote last year that a truly booming economy is one that...

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I’d Like To Solve The Puzzle: Nastier Number Four, The New Lows in Germany

The European slump had been a combination of several transitory factors. At least that’s what they had kept saying. ECB officials and staff Economists didn’t use that specific word, so far that’s the exclusive domain of the Federal Reserve. Regardless of semantics, the message was clear: the 2018 economy ended on a sour note but that was nothing to be worried about, soon to be forgotten. In January 2019, various private Economists pitched in. One working for JP Morgan, Greg Fuzesi, estimated...

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US IP: May Was A Good Month And It Was Still ‘Manufacturing Recession’

Whether or not a full-scale recession shows up in the US is an open question. There’s less of one in US industry. The “manufacturing recession” we last saw of Euro$ #3 is becoming clearer as a repeat property in Euro$ #4. According to the Federal Reserve, May was a relatively good month for industry – total output didn’t decline from April. No matter in the big picture. The trajectory is becoming very well established. As is consistent with economic and market data from all over the world,...

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The Unemployment Rate Has Been Left Even Lonelier

The unemployment rate has been maybe the loneliest of numbers. That didn’t quite mean it was entirely alone. Of the major economic accounts, only the JOLTS series and only one part of that series suggested the big mainstream employment indicator was anywhere close to accurate. Job Openings (JO) have been surging as if companies are in high demand for new labor. It has therefore been widely cited. Or, more accurately, it had been surging. It is no longer as widely cited. The level of JO has...

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Payrolls: Rate Cuts Not Of Their Choice

It’s never just one payroll report. The month-to-month changes in the Establishment Survey barely qualify as statistically significant, let alone meaningful. What that means is one good monthly headline is nothing to get excited about, just as one bad month shouldn’t get anyone too worked up. May 2019’s jobs report, however, isn’t in isolation. The headline for the Establishment Survey was +75k, well below expectations. On top of that, last month’s blowout (or what passes for one these days)...

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More and More The Economic Inflection

You do wonder sometimes whether the person responsible for writing these things ever cringes while they do so. Are they ever shocked by a sudden bout of conscience? Then again, most of it is bland boilerplate language and when it’s not the difference is hidden under a maze of intentionally induced complexity or misdirection. The statement the FOMC released after its April/May policy meeting started out with the following: Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in...

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Effective Recession First In Japan?

For a lot of people, a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. This is called the technical definition in the mainstream and financial media. While this specific pattern can indicate a change in the business cycle, it’s really only one narrow case. Recessions are not just tied to GDP. In the US, the Economists who make the determination (the NBER) will tell you recessions aren’t always so straightforward. Everyone knew about the second half of the Great “Recession” because...

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