Tag Archive: Labor Market

Reality Beckons: Even Bigger Payroll Gains, Much Less Fuss Over Them

What a difference a month makes. The euphoria clearly fading even as the positive numbers grow bigger still. The era of gigantic pluses is only reaching its prime, which might seem a touch pessimistic given the context. In terms of employment and the labor market, reaction to the Current Employment Situation (CES) report seems to indicate widespread recognition of this situation. And that means how there are actually two labor markets at the moment.

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Wait A Minute, What’s This Inversion?

Back in the middle of 2018, this kind of thing was at least straight forward and intuitive. If there was any confusion, it wasn’t related to the mechanics, rather most people just couldn’t handle the possibility this was real. Jay Powell said inflation, rate hikes, and accelerating growth. Absolutely hawkish across-the-board.And yet, all the way back in the middle of June 2018 the eurodollar curve started to say, hold on a minute.

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A Second Against Consumer Credit And Interest ‘Stimulus’

Credit card use entails a degree of risk appreciated at the most basic level. Americans had certainly become more comfortable with debt in all its forms over the many decades since the Great Depression, but the regular employment of revolving credit was perhaps the apex of this transformation. Does any commercial package on TV today not include one or more credit card offers? It certainly remains a staple of junk mail.

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What Did Everyone Think Was Going To Happen?

Honestly, what did everyone think was going to happen? I know, I’ve seen the analyst estimates. They were talking like another six or seven perhaps eight million job losses on top of the twenty-plus already gone. Instead, the payroll report (Establishment Survey) blew everything away, coming in both at two and a half million but also sporting a plus sign.The Household Survey was even better, +3.8mm during May 2020. But, again, why wasn’t this...

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It’s Hard To See Anything But Enormous Long-term Cost

The unemployment rate wins again. In a saner era, back when what was called economic growth was actually economic growth, this primary labor ratio did a commendable job accurately indicating the relative conditions in the labor market. You didn’t go looking for corroboration because it was all around; harmony in numbers for a far more peaceful and serene period.

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Like Repo, The Labor Lie

The Federal Reserve has been trying to propagate two big lies about the economy. Actually, it’s three but the third is really a combination of the first two. To start with, monetary authorities have been claiming that growing liquidity problems were the result of either “too many” Treasuries (haven’t heard that one in a while) or the combination of otherwise benign technical factors.

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Very Rough Shape, And That’s With The Payroll Data We Have Now

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has begun the process of updating its annual benchmarks. Actually, the process began last year and what’s happening now is that the government is releasing its findings to the public. Up first is the Household Survey, the less-watched, more volatile measure which comes at employment from the other direction. As the name implies, the BLS asks households who in them is working whereas the more closely scrutinized...

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Disposable (Employment) Figures

If last month’s payroll report was declared to be strong at +128k, then what would that make this month’s +266k? Epic? Heroic? The superlatives are flying around today, as you should expect. This Payroll Friday actually fits the times. It wasn’t great, they never really are nowadays (when you adjust for population and participation), but it was a good one nonetheless.

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Consistent Trade War Inconsistency Hides The Consistent Trend

You can see the pattern, a weathervane of sorts in its own right. Not for how the economy is actually going, mind you, more along the lines of how it is being perceived from the high-level perspective. The green light for “trade wars” in the first place was what Janet Yellen and Jay Powell had said about the economy.

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The Big One, The Smoking Gun

It wasn’t just the unemployment rate which was one of the key reasons why Economists and central bankers (redundant) felt confident enough to inspire 2017’s inflation hysteria. There was actually another piece to it, a bigger piece potentially complimentary and corroborative bit of conjecture. I write “conjecture” because despite how all this is presented in the media there’s very little precision to any of it.

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For Labor And Recession, The Bad One

There’s a couple of different ways that Unit Labor Costs can rise. Or even surge. The first is the good way, the one we all want to see because it is consistent with the idea of an economy that is actually booming. If workers have become truly scarce as macro forces sustain actual growth such that all labor market slack is absorbed, then businesses have to compete for them bidding up the price of marginal labor.

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Red Flags Over Labor

Better-than-expected is the new strong. Even I’m amazed at the satisfaction being taken with October’s payroll numbers. While you never focus too much on one monthly estimate, this time it might be time to do so. But not for those other reasons. Sure, GM caused some disruption and the Census is winding down, both putting everyone on edge. The whisper numbers were low double digits, maybe even a negative headline estimate.

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From Friends to Nemeses: JO and Jay

It was one of the first major speeches of his tenure. Speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago in April 2018, newly crowned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was full of optimism. At that time, however, optimism was being framed as some sort of bad thing. This was the height of inflation hysteria, where any sort of official upgrade to the economic condition was taken as further “hawkishness.”

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Three (Rate Cuts) And GDP, Where (How) Does It End?

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it will now pause – for a second time, supposedly. Remember the first: after raising its benchmark rates apparatus in December while still talking about an inflationary growth acceleration requiring even more hikes throughout 2019, in a matter of weeks that was transformed into a temporary suspension of them.

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The Inventory Context For Rate Cuts And Their Real Nature/Purpose

What typically distinguishes recessions from downturns is the inventory cycle. Even in 2008, that was the basis for the Great “Recession.” It was distinguished most prominently by the financial conditions and global-reaching panic, true, but the effects of the monetary crash registered heaviest in the various parts of that inventory process.

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From JOLTS Series Shift To Series of Rate Cuts

I’ve said all along that they would be dragged into them kicking and screaming. After all, the Federal Reserve undertook its last rate hike in December 2018 – just as the markets were making clear he was completely mistaken in his view of the economy. What followed was the ridiculous “Fed pause” which pretty much everyone outside of the central bank and the Economics profession knew wasn’t the end of it.

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Why The Japanese Are Suddenly Messing With YCC

While the world’s attention was fixated on US$ repo for once, the Bank of Japan held a policy meeting and turned in an even more “dovish” performance. Likely the global central bank plan had been to combine the Fed’s second rate cut with what amounted to a simultaneous Japanese pledge for more “stimulus” in October. Both of those followed closely an ECB which got itself back in the QE business once more.

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FX Weekly Preview: Six Things to Watch in the Week Ahead

The prospect of a third trade truce between the US and China helped underpin the optimism that extended the rally in equities.  Bond yields continued to back-up after dropping precipitously in August, led by a more than  30 bp increase in the US yield benchmark.  The Dollar Index fell for the second consecutive week, something it had not done this quarter.

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Japan: Fall Like Germany, Or Give Hope To The Rest of the World?

After trading overnight in Asia, Japan’s government bond market is within a hair’s breadth of setting new record lows. The 10-year JGB is within a basis point and a fraction of one while the 5-year JGB has only 2 bps to reach. It otherwise seems at odds with the mainstream narrative at least where Japan’s economy is concerned.

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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.

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