On Monday, we learn that consumer sentiment is the highest since the end of the Great Recession.
On Tuesday, we’re told that Americans’ fear of hunger, eviction and foreclosure are at record highs.
On Wednesday, a new analysis tells us that GDP is expected to grow by 6% in the 1st quarter of 2021.
On Thursday, an article shows that over 10 million people are still unemployed, with tens of thousands of restaurants and bars permanently closed.
And on Friday, one strategist suggests that the stock market will grow by another 30% this year.
Another one says that because stock prices are so overpriced relative to earnings the market is due for a major correction.
Quite a week, eh?
At its worst last spring, over 20 million Americans were laid off or furloughed — suddenly jobless and struggling to make ends meet month after month after month.
Yet, as New York Times writer David Gelles revealed over the weekend, the executives in charge of many of the companies those millions of unemployed once worked for “were showered with riches.”
Less Americans getting infected, more Americans getting vaccinated, $6 trillion in government spending, with at least $4 trillion more on the table, and many trillions more from an anything-goes Fed.
What do they have in common? They’re all converging to create what giddy economists and others, like Axios’ Nicholas Johnston, say will be “a year of U.S. economic growth for the record books.”
With those kind of numbers (think 10 zeros!), it better be record-setting!
Don’t look now, but the economic recovery, rebound or whatever you want to call it has stalled.
It’s not exactly drowning in quicksand (at least not yet), but it’s definitely mired in pools of thickening sludge.
The U.S. reported disappointing job growth for the second straight month and for the third time in six months.
Just 194,000 nonfarm jobs were added to what has got to be characterized as an restless economy in September — a significantly slower pace than the 366,000 number a month earlier.
Economists had been expecting to reach at least 500,000 this time around.
Corporate America is shelling out higher wages to employees, and business executives expect to continue doing so.
According to its new quarterly survey released today by the National Association of Business Economists, a record high 58% say they increased pay at their companies during the 3rd quarter.
Just about the same number expects that trend to continue in the months ahead.
Inflation came in like a hot potato last month.
At 6.2% for all items, virtually no economist wants to touch it, politicians just want to play the blame game, and few everyday Americans see a silver lining.
There are always a ton of ways to slice and dice inflation, including what it actually is and the best way to measure it.
Market bull Phil Orlando believes the Fed will raise interest rates six times over the next two years to reign in significant ongoing consumer price increases.
Last week he said, “…we will see two quarter-point rate hikes…in the second half of , and perhaps another four quarter-point rate hikes over the course of .”
In other words, Orlando and his firm, Fidelity Hermes, see the Fed Funds rate rising from its current 0% to 0.25% range to 1.75% to 2.0% two years from now.
Jerome Powell and his colleagues at the Fed are getting advice from a new generation of college students; maybe that’s a group they’ll listen to.
They’re telling them to speed up the tapering, enhance communications with the public and finish their study on digital currency.
For a few minutes every semester or two, the students act as Fed officials and compete to pitch staffers the best direction for the economy.
Never mind the Wall Streeters. Here’s a fresh look from the next generation policymakers.
The next official government release on inflation comes Friday, as a nation of number watchers try to figure out the mixed signals sent by last week’s confusing jobs report.
Americans of all ilk — from the White House, members of Congress and Federal Reserve policymakers to mega corporations, small businesses and everyday households — are focused on persistent price gains and how they’re impacting families and the economy.
A new poll is the latest sign that job numbers are pretty strong and the stock market may be at an all-time high.
Yet, Americans are overwhelmingly grading the economy by the price they see on the shelves.
Prices paid haven't always been the top indicator of choice. When YouGov asked the question in August 2020, 44% picked the unemployment rate compared to 25% who chose inflation.
Bottom line, in the latest Economist/You Gov poll, a majority of Americans (53%) say the economy is getting worse — one point lower than the highest level of the Biden presidency, last month.
The nation’s worker shortage “has become a flywheel of doom, messing up our lives and society writ large,” according to Emily Peck.
“And many of the underlying problems that led to this breakdown are bigger than the pandemic.”
Because of increased restrictions on immigration and travel that began with the pandemic in early 2020, the net inflow of immigrants into the U.S. has for all intents and purposes been in a 2-year hiatus.
The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is out with the “Chart Book: Tracking the Post-Great Recession Economy.”
This ongoing study is a comprehensive, insightful look at how our economy has fared since the financial crisis that began in late 2007.
The surprising pace of recent job growth may be catching recent headlines. But, as Neil Irwin points out, other details contain the biggest implications for markets in the months ahead; namely, wage growth.
More warehouse workers, fewer waiters. More health store employees, fewer in public schools. The overall job market is getting back to its pre-pandemic strength, but it looks a lot different.
Courtenay Brown writes that disruptions over the past two years have shaken up the composition of the labor force — “with big implications for how industries will have to adjust to a longer-term worker shortfall.”
Economist Ellen Gaske at PGIM Fixed Income says, "I'm not looking for recovery to pre-pandemic levels in each industry. Some workers have left for greener pastures, and that's a good thing.”
She added, "There is more opportunity for workers to return to new jobs — where the industries are growing and the outlook is potentially brighter. That churning is what offers up a possibility of stronger productivity gains and increased standard of living."
The Federal Reserve’s dual mandate is to promote stable prices and maximize employment. Today, we take a look at how current events are affecting those policy mandates.
Early Pandemic Layoffs Driving Today’s Labor Shortages
One only has to recall the infancy of the pandemic to see why employers in a broad range of industries are struggling with historic labor shortages.
Decisions made in 2020 to cut staff appear to be a root cause of many 2022 frustrations, according to Courtenay Brown and Neil Irwin of Axios.
The industries hardest hit at the pandemic's onset — restaurants, hotels and airlines — are now those seeing a boom in demand.
Even with higher pay, though, they're struggling to replace the workers they laid off back then – some of whom have moved to other industries where the pay is comparable or higher and working conditions are better.
The worker shortage has pushed businesses to raise wages rapidly, which has, in turn, kept inflation elevated.
On the other hand, this dynamic has been more subdued in Europe.
Another day, another drama, another slew of confusing data flowing out of government agencies.
The U.S. economy has created over 3 million jobs so far this year.
The number of people working as of July exceeded the total seen in February 2020, just before the economy dipped into recession, at least according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
But it looks like the hiring binge could be winding down. In fact, many companies are now planning to cut back, largely because of the Fed’s rate hiking campaign and Quantitative Tightening to rein-in high inflation.
A new PwC survey shows that 50% of companies are planning to reduce their overall headcount.
Additionally, 46% of companies said they’re ending or reducing signing bonuses, while 44% are rescinding offers (my daughter was a recent victim).
Myles Udland believes that reducing overall headcount doesn't mean all of the respondents to PwC's survey are planning layoffs but indicates plans similar to what’s been going in tech.
As the report says: "Respondents are also taking proactive steps to streamline the workforce and establish the appropriate mix of worker skills for the future.”
That should come as no surprise. After a fury of hiring and a tight labor market over the past two years, executives see the distinction between having people and having people with the right skills."
Or, as Steven Covey once put it, having the right people in the right seats on the bus.
Since the labor market bottomed in April 2020, more than 22 million jobs have been added – or in many cases, added back – to the economy.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters last month, the U.S. labor market is "very hot." And those comments came before the government’s July jobs report showed 528,000 jobs were created last month.
This robust rebound, however, has been far from evenly spread across industries.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that overall leisure & hospitality employment is still down over 1 million jobs from February 2020.
At the same time, industries like "professional & business services" – which covers a host of white collar, Zoom-based, remote jobs – are up almost a million jobs (986,000) from pre-pandemic levels.
Udland says this uneven industry-level recovery “is why it sometimes feels like ‘everyone’ has gotten a new job in the last year while no restaurant…is fully staffed these days.”
The duo’s historic cross-country expedition began in 1804, when President Thomas Jefferson directed Meriwether Lewis to explore lands west of the Mississippi included in the Louisiana Purchase.
Lewis chose William Clark as his co-leader for the mission. Their treacherous adventure lasted over two years.
Along the way, they faced hostile weather, unforgiving terrain, perilous waters, bodily injury, persistent hunger, disease and both friendly and unwelcoming Native Americans.
Nevertheless, their roughly 8,000-mile trek was deemed a big success and provided new geographic, ecological and cultural information about previously unmapped areas of North America.
It was all about slow and steady.
Fast Forward 400 Years.......
One of the economy’s many enigmas in 2022 has been “blockbuster jobs growth during a time of very low unemployment vs. complaints of a labor shortage,” according to Courtenay Brown and Neil Irwin.
They add that since earlier in the year, it’s seemed like something has had to give. Now, new evidence suggests that "something" may have arrived.
ADP, the nation's largest payroll processor, rolled out its new measure of private-sector payrolls on Wednesday.
In partnership with Stanford University’s Digital Economy Lab, the ADP Research Institute indicator infers data based on workers added or cut and paychecks sent by its own massive client base.
The other day, it showed private employers added 132,000 jobs in August — less than half from the 270,000 in July, and the lowest reading since January last year.
The newly designed ADP report aims to capture underlying employment trends compared to its older version that essentially represented little more than a prediction of what the BLS would report two days later.
Well…today’s job report shows that 318,000 jobs were added to private payrolls last month, the lowest gain since April 2021 and well below July's 526,000, but just slightly below economists' estimate of 318,000.
So Friday was jobs day. The “Non-Farm payroll report” it’s called. And as usual, when the headline hit, it seemed acceptable. Well that’s what the headline’s supposed to do, give you a quick hit of “good” so that you wander off thinking things are pretty good out there.
They said that overall, 261,000 jobs were created and that was better than the estimates. Even taking out any Government employment, it was still up 230K, better than they hoped.
But as usual in this day and age, the report was total crap. Lies and distortions of epic scope. First off let’s look at that headline number. Okay so 261K jobs were created. Or… were they? Uhm, NO. In fact our friends at the BLS sprinkled so much of their fairy dust on the report, it was unreadable. Let me explain.
The Bureau of Labor each month takes verified job numbers, and counts them. But they also figure “hey there are probably jobs out there that we didn’t get proof of yet, so we need to calculate them into the mix.” This is called the “Birth/Death” model.
You can go to the BLS website and read the mumbo jumbo about how they come up with these extra jobs, but it’s an exercise in futility. They’ll give you all these fancy equations and academic mental gymnastics, and it won’t make a lick of sense. Let me sum it up for you…
Basically what they’re saying is that for every “X” amount of businesses that close (that’s the death part) Some “X” amount of those now unemployed employees, will go out and open “X” amount of new businesses. Well new businesses need employees, so they take a random-assed guess about how many that comes to also.
We live in a world where nothing is as it seems. The things we are told on a daily basis, are either lies, distortions, distractions, or misdirection. Of course it’s always for an agenda. Our job so to speak, is to figure out what that agenda is, and often times, it’s not nearly as easy as you’d think.
I think this has been true for decades, but in the past they did their best to at least make it plausible. Don’t forget that 40 - 50 years ago, people really only had TV, Radio and the local newspaper to try and push what ever the agenda was. People were also “smarter” in a sense, and not as easily conned.
That last sentence was not hyperbole its simply fact. If you went back 50 years and asked a first year college student who the first President of the US was, they’d instantly know the answer. Or maybe ask, which President is on the 20 dollar bill? They’d know. They might be able to tell you about his life.
But today, there’s hundreds of videos, where people will go around with a microphone and ask these very basic questions to people on the street, and it’s absolutely stunning to hear some of the answers given. They have no clue, and I find it disturbing frankly.