The majority of the jobs "created" since the financial crisis have been lower wage paying jobs in retail, healthcare and other service sectors of the economy. Conversely, the jobs created within the energy space are some of the highest wage paying opportunities available in engineering, technology, accounting, legal, etc. In fact, each job created in energy related areas has had a "ripple effect" of creating 2.8 jobs elsewhere in the economy from piping to coatings, trucking and transportation, restaurants and retail. Simply put, lower oil and gasoline prices may have a bigger detraction on the economy that the "savings" provided to consumers.
The U.S. now ranks not first, not second, not third, but 12th among developed nations in terms of business startup activity as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton rages, for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births. Wall Street, Clifton explains, needs the stock market to boom, even if that boom is fueled by illusion. So both tell us, "The economy is coming back." Let's get one thing clear, he exclaims, "this economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses."
Those waiting to see if the crude crash would lead to any sizable adverse impact on the US trade deficit in November, as lower production led to higher imports if only on paper, the answer is yes, but in the opposite direction: instead of increasing or dropping just marginally from October's $43.4 billion (to the $42 billion consensus estimate), the November trade deficit tumbled by 7.7% to $39 billion the lowest print since December 2013, as a result of a 2.2% drop in imports coupled with a 1% decline in exports. But it was shale crude once again that was the swing factor, which was massively produced as domestic producers scramble to offset declining prices with extra volume, because as the data showed, in November the US imported the smallest crude amount by notional since 1994, and the lowest cost crude since 2010.
2014 was quite a bizarre year. The past 12 months brought us MH370, Ebola, civil war in Ukraine, civil unrest in Ferguson, the rise of ISIS and the fall of the Democrats in the midterm elections. Our world is becoming crazier and more unstable with each passing day, and we have a feeling that things are going to accelerate greatly in 2015... despite record-er-est US stock prices.
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
The undisputed winner in this year's "Worst Idea At The Wrong Time" category is the poor suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, a town which was looted, burned and generally eviscerated on several occasions in the past few months on account of public anger first at the murder of Mike Brown and subsequently, the acquital of the police officer who shot him. Why? Because according to Bloomberg, in order to close a municipal budget gap - and keep in mind the prevailing poverty in the region has been widely attributed as one of the reason for the escalating violence on either side of the law - Ferguson plans to boost revenue from public-safety fines and tapping reserves.
Did you know that 65 percent of all children in the United States live in a home that receives aid from the federal government? We live at a time when child poverty in America is exploding. But as bad as things are for the children of America right now, they are only going to get worse. In the years ahead may we all have great compassion for these victims of our incredibly foolish economic mistakes.
It was a little over month ago when we presented our visual guide to the Millennial generation. Since then, dissecting America's overindebted, overeducated, underqualified, underemployed, underpaid young adults - if only in charts - has become one of the nation's favorite pastimes. And so, courtesy of the US Census Bureau which too has taken a fascination with the sad plight of the one generation that, at least in theory, should carry the weight of the US economy on its shoulders, is the latest demographic dressing down of Americans aged 18 to 34.
"I find it extremely odd and troubling that starting with January 2013, the Establishment Survey started moving in nearly an exactly straight line (benchmarks are important). That observation is made more curious by a memo that was just sent out by the Census Bureau to its field offices (the BLS crunches the numbers, but contracts out with the Census Bureau to actually conduct the surveys)... In other words, they were told that there would be penalties for cheating on the surveys, which apparently is tied to suggestions of a rash of field workers completing surveys for people never actually surveyed. The reason for doing so, spelled out by the New York Post, is that compensation is tied to a 90% completion rate."
In any economy, nothing works in isolation. For every dollar increase that occurs in one part of the economy, there is a dollars worth of reduction somewhere else. The real issue is what the fall in commodities in general, including oil, is telling us about the real state of the economy.
First it was Shoppertrak, then it was the National Retail Federation, then it was IBM, and now, with its own set of internal data, here is Bank of America slamming the door shut on US retail spending as a source of Q4 growth, and proving once and for all that the extended Thanksgiving-weekend, and the start to US holiday spending season, was the biggest dud since Lehman.
The executive actions on immigration announced last week look likely to have only a modest economic effect, because, as Goldman Sachs explains, most of the individuals eligible for the programs are already in the US and, in most cases, are likely already working. That said, Goldman estimates that the changes should increase the labor force by about 300k over the next couple of years and that possible wage gains among those gaining work authorization would increase average wages by less than 0.1%.
Moments ago the Census Bureau reported that 458K new homes were sold in October (with a 16.5 error confidence), which missed expectations of a 471K increase from last month's 467K print, but that's ok, because last month's number was also revised substantially lower from 467K to 453K, which in turn will allow the mainstream propaganda to tout that New Home Sales jump in October to match the highest print since October 2013. There is one problem: here is what the update chart of New Home Sales data looks like on a historical basis... and as revised. It sure puts that 458K "increase" in a slightly different light.
There are things going on with the financial markets currently that seem just a bit "out of balance." For example, asset prices are rising against a backdrop of global weakness, deflationary pressures and rising valuations. More importantly, there is a rising divergence between sentiment and hard data. While weather can't be blamed yet, it will likely be the main "excuse" in the months ahead as early record snowfall is already impacting economic production. However, it isn't just the manufacturing data that seems "out of whack."
"You might think legions of retiring Baby Boomers are to blame, or perhaps the swelling ranks of laid-off workers who’ve grown discouraged about their re-employment prospects. While both of those groups doubtless are important (though just how important is debated by labor economists), our analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests another key factor: Teens and young adults aren’t as interested in entering the work force as they used to be, a trend that predates the Great Recession." - Pew