“...parts of the U.S. jobs report for January seem fishy...”
The "Jobs Friday" ritual is getting truly absurd. So it can’t be repeated often enough: These artifacts of the BLS’ seasonally maladjusted, trend-cycle modeled, heavily imputed/crafted and five times revised “jobs” numbers have precious little to do with the real health of the main street economy. Indeed, the six-year run of job gains since early 2010 primarily represent “born-again jobs” and part-time gigs. In economic terms, they do not remotely resemble your grandfather’s industrial era economy when a “job” lasted 40 to 50 hours per week all year round; and most of what the BLS survey counted as “jobs” paid a living wage. Not now. Not even close.
It is absolutely normal for employers to completely miss the signs of impending doom. The 2007 extreme occurred just before the carnage of mass layoffs that was to begin a couple of months later. Employers were still clueless that the end of the housing bubble would have devastating effects. If they were clueless then, they are in an advanced state of delirium and delusion now. The devastating 1973-74 bear market, which cut the value of stocks by 50%, was in its early stages. This was an early example of employers being late to the funeral. Similar employer hoarding of workers has been associated with bubbles in the more recent past and has led to massive retrenchment, usually within 18 months or so.
A current Bank of America employee has made a number of whistleblower submissions to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about the role played by the U.S. banking subsidiary in financing dividend-arbitrage trades: trades which used taxpayer-backed funds to allow hedge funds to avoid paying taxes. The employee’s submissions allege that Bank of America’s London-based Merrill Lynch International unit has extended “extreme levels of BANA leverage” to fund “increasingly aggressive and reckless” tax-avoidance trades. The submissions said the practices risked causing the bank “serious financial and reputational damage.”
Inspired by Scotland's hopes for independence and hot on the heels of Crime'a 95% preference for accession to Russia, 89% of the citizens of Venice voted for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy. As The Daily Mail reports, the proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ includes the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and has been largely driven by the wealthy 'who are tired of supporting the poor and crime-ridden south' (Venice pays EUR71bn in taxes and receives only EUR21bn in services and investment). The ballot appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome. Wonder why the US, Europe, and Japan have not announced the referendum "illegal" and announced sanctions yet?
"I don’t think they’ve solved anything. I think they’ve compounded the underlying problems that caused the last crisis, and so now the next crisis will be that much worse because of what the central banks did, in particular the Federal Reserve...The Fed is building an economy that is completely dependent on that cheap money. And so if you take it away, the economy implodes, but if you don’t take it away, then it’s worse." The idea is to preempt capital controls - "get out the window before it slams shut!"
It's difficult to have a meaningful national debate about economic policy when "headline numbers" are juiced to make things appear rosier than reality. Since unemployment statistics are either suspect or blatantly bogus, we must look for other less manipulated statistics for some modicum of truth. Key statistics of employment, income and production are vital propaganda tools for the status quo, and the temptation to adjust them to manage perceptions is apparently irresistible. The con being played here is the assumption that more jobs means more wages which means things are getting better and better in every way, every day. If payroll withholding taxes are declining, and wages/salaries are flatlined, things are not getting better and better in terms of earned income flowing into household bank accounts, purses and wallets.
To the Execs at Walmart, and all of those other retailers that are feeling the SS pinch, I say "Welcome to the club".
One of the biggest games in the Wall Street farce is the game of Beat the Number.
What's your wild guess?
To confirm a reversal in Treasuries we need a bona fide breakout.
Sudden collapse in withholding taxes... so now we can get back to the normal state, where the government borrows more than expected.
Over the past week we have repeatedly exposed the BLS' shennanigans to both keep the headline unemployment rate suppressed and to generate an upward bias in the market courtesy of a "bigger than expected beat" of expectations. Granted, various semantics experts continue to scratch their heads in attempting to explain a collapsing labor force when even Goldman's Sven Jari Stehn just predicted that it will drop to 63.1% by the end of 2012 (and 62.5% by the end of 2015). Funny then that the US will have no unemployment left when the participation rate drops to 58.5%. And no, the "population soared argument based on revised data" doesn't quite cut it when the bulk of said surge not only did not get a job, but was not even counted toward the labor force. Yet what the biggest flaw with all these arguments that vainly (and veinly) attempt to defend the US economy as if it is growing, is that they focus exclusively on the quantity of jobs, doctored or not, and completely ignore the quality. We have decided to step in and fill this void.
If last week's tax data is indicative of what's ahead this month, the "good news" won't be sustained.
Great news from today's BLS report, right (when one excludes that record 1.2 million explosion in people out of the labor force of course)? Wrong. As is well known banks have been firing workers left and right: these are the jobs that actually matter in the grand withholding taxes scheme of things. Yet someone is getting hired supposedly. Well, as we suggested before the NFP report, this is merely rotation from high paying jobs to "low-wage jobs." And no, it's not our words - this is what CRT Capital says. Per Bloomberg: About 113k of NFP gain from “low wage jobs,” David Ader, strategist at CRT Capital Group, writes in note. Additionally, “we didn’t see the drop in courier and messengers as expected - but suspect we will." Moreover, ‘‘long-term stress remains at the U6 measure at 15.1% is still high, but likely falling due to people leaving labor force, and duration on unemployment remains over 40 weeks." But yes, it is an election year, so by November expect the labor participation rate to be under 60% and the unemployment rate to drop to under 6%, or some other propaganda BS.