The largest problem with the data sets below is that they are all subject to large historical revisions. This is why the NBER is ALWAYS well after the fact in pronouncing the start and end of recessions in the U.S. economy. Given the ongoing interventions from the Federal Reserve and the current administration, it is likely that many of the statistics, and seasonal adjustment metrics, have been skewed in recent years. In the quarters ahead it is likely that we could see rather sharp adjustments to historical data which may suggest the economy has been far weaker than headline statistics have suggested.
Zero Hedge first brought attention to the Atlanta Fed over two months ago, when the first massive divergence between bullish consensus and objective reality appeared. Since then it has been nothing but a downhill race for reality, with consensus scrambling to catch up. Moments ago, the Atlanta Fed just cut its Q2 GDP forecast once more, this time to 0.7% from 0.8%. This is on the back of a Q1 GDP which as of this moments is around -1.0%.
In short, the very project of counting “jobs” is essentially laughable in the context of the US economy as it is currently structured - for better or worse. But regardless of the equities and efficiencies of the current labor market, one thing is abundantly clear. The Payroll Friday report amounts to virtually meaningless noise. It is bad enough that the bubble vision Romper Room and the casino robo-traders are oblivious to this reality. What is scary is that the Eccles Building is just as clueless.
At least 22 states are facing budget shortfalls thanks to a combination of fiscal mismanagement and falling oil prices. The negative impact on the public sector has been dramatic suggesting that in the event of a sustained economic downturn, citizens' patience for austerity could wear thin leading to political instability and social unrest.
Auto sales have recovered to the 16.5-17 million range, and many observers predict further gains in coming years (despite, as we previously noted, missing expectations for the last few months). But to Goldman Sachs, the current sales pace already looks high relative to the medium-term fundamentals; and their assessment of scrappage rates, population growth, licensed drivers, and vehicle ownership suggests that trend demand for autos - excluding cyclical fluctuations - is only 14-15 million units per year.
Rising tuition rates, high unemployment among recent graduates, and an anemic economic recovery have many questioning the once inviolable notion that a college education is the best way to ensure high-paying, full-time employment. A new study from Georgetown looks at the best and worst majors for those looking to maximize their annual income.
After shrinking notably in Feb, March's US Trade deficit exploded. Against expectations of a $41.7bn deficit, the US generated a $51.4bn deficit - the worst since Oct 2008 and the biggest miss on record. Exports rose just $1.6bn while imports soared $17.1bn with the goods deficit with China soaring from $27.3bn to $37.8bn in March. Ironically, just as the "harsh winter" was found to lead to a GDP boost due to a surge in utility spending, so the West Coast port strike which was blamed for the GDP drop, was actually benefiting the US economy as it lead to a plunge in imports. In March, however, the pipeline was cleared, and US imports from China soared by over $10 billion to $38 billion. End result: prepare for upcoming Q1 GDP downgrades into negative territory.
During the heyday of post-war prosperity between 1953 and 1971, real final sales - a better measure of economic growth than GDP because it filters out inventory fluctuations - grew at a 3.6% annual rate. That is exactly double the 1.8% CAGR recorded for 2000-2014. The long and short of it, therefore, is that there has been a dramatic downshift in the trend rate of economic growth during an era in which central bank intervention and stimulus has been immeasurably enlarged. How exactly is the Fed helping when the trend rate of real growth has withered dramatically?
Apple is the Ty Cobb of corporate America. Like Cobb, Apple has set some impressive records. Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. Apple risks having a legacy of tainted success and isolation.
Earlier today the US Census released its latest quarterly data, which confirmed that for what is left of America's middle class, owning a home has become virtually impossible, with the homeownership rate tumbling from 64.0% to 63.7%, which is tied for the lowest historic print since the first quarter of 1986, with the only difference that then the trendline was higher. Now, as can be seen on the chart below, it isn't. At this rate, by the end of the 2015 and certainly by the end of Obama's second term, the US homeownership rate will drop to the lowest in modern US history.
"The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand," WSJ notes, suggesting yet again that QE can cause deflation when those who have access to easy money overproduce but do not witness a comparable increase in demand from those to whom the direct benefits of ultra accommodative policies do not immediately accrue.
This is the email Bank of America's economist Hans "Great Rotation" Mikkelsen blasted out moments ago, without shame and without the embarassment that thousands of people would read this and burst out laughing.
"The systematic destruction of the American way of life is happening all around us, and yet most people have no idea what is happening. Unfortunately, in our society the value that we place on individuals has a tremendous amount to do with how much money they have."
Despite another data series revision by the Department of Commerce, there was no way to put lipstick on the pig of America's wholesale trade data, and as reported moments ago, the all important merchant sales for February dropped for 3rd month in a row in February, the longest stretch since the last recession. What's worse however, is that the annual pace of decline has now stretched over both January and February, confirming that 2015 is now officially a year of contraction for the US economy. As a reminder, every time this series suffers an annual decline, there is a recession.
The great conundrum of the U.S. economy today is that we have record numbers of working age people out of the labor force at the same time we have businesses desperately trying to find workers. So why aren’t workers filling these available jobs - or getting the skills necessary to fill them. We would posit five impediments to putting more Americans back to work - First, government discourages work...