As program trading computers pretend to care about such fundamental things as continuing jobless claims, a peculiar trend emerges. Over the past two months, it has become obvious that while continuing claims have doubled (up 124% to be precise from March 2007) - a major metric that many market participants (at least ones not based on a SPARC architecture) have been following - another, potentially more troubling observation is that Monthly Unemployment Payments have doubled the rate of increase in jobless claims (234% from March 2007 based on the Treasury Daily Statement). (For Leibniz fans, is this a third derivative issue?)
In summary, over the past two years, while unemployment claims have climbed from 2,688 million in March 2007 to 6,157 in May 2009, monthly unemployment payments have skyrocketed from $3,238 million to $10,807 over the same time period. Furthermore, run rating June 15 intramonth results, indicates that this will be the all time most cash outflowing month for unemployment benefits, at $12,354 million.
What all this means is that the Average Monthly Unemployment "Paycheck" has exploded from on average $1,000 to $1,800 in recent months (and over $2,000 runrated for June). Has the government been "pushing" benefits to the unemployed since December of 2008, when the increase commenced? The trend can be visualized easily in the chart below.
This would make sense practically: as there is way too much money that needs to be pushed to the consumer (either employed or unemployed), and since neither is borrowing from banks, maybe the Fed/Treasury have decided to facilitate the collection of outsized unemployment benefits in order to push the propagation of dollars in the economy. Of course, absent significant legislative change this would likely not be a legal approach to enhance M2 or MZM.
hat tip Mike