201806.18
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The Simple Economics of What Really Matters

The very idea of a labor shortage is supposed to be strictly an economic concept. No longer. It is now wielded almost exclusively in political terms. Anecdotes about how companies are unable to find workers pepper most commentary on the labor market if only because there is no (none) direct statistical evidence that a nationwide…

201712.08
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Revisiting Once More The True Worst Case

As weird as it may seem at first, the primary economic problem right now is that the global economy looks like it is growing again. There is no doubt that it continues on an upturn, but the mere fact that whatever economic statistic has a positive sign in front of it ends up being classified…

201712.05
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Reduced Trade Terms Salute The Flattened Curve

The Census Bureau reported earlier today that US imports of foreign goods jumped 9.9% year-over-year in October. That is the second largest increase since February 2012, just less than the 12% import growth recorded for January earlier this year. In both monthly cases, however, the almost normal rates of increase which would have at least…

201711.03
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Synchronized Global Not Quite Growth

Going back to 2014, it was common for whenever whatever economic data point disappointed that whomever optimistic economist or policymaker would overrule it by pointing to “global growth.” It was the equivalent of shutting down an uncomfortable debate with ad hominem attacks. You can’t falsify “global growth” because you can’t really define what it is. Japan…

201709.13
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Harvey’s Muted (Price) Impact On Oil

The impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf energy region is becoming clear. There have been no surprises to date, even though the storm did considerable damage and shuttered or disrupted significant capacity. Most of that related to gasoline, which Americans have been feeling in pump prices. According to the US Department of Energy, as…

201709.05
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Demand Dearth

The fundamental problem is that we don’t know what’s wrong. In many ways that is a worse condition because it is one step further removed from a solution. Even after ten years “we” still have to prove that the one thing everyone largely believes can’t be the depressing issue is. Earlier this year as the…

201707.28
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GDP (and Revisions) Confirms The Curves

Real Gross Domestic Product expanded by 2.54% in Q2 2017, below most estimates including the final one from the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model. That latter method was close once again in its final days (+2.8%), but earlier in the quarter was predicting GDP growth of 4.3%. That would have been like what many people were…

201706.28
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Forget Draghi, Crude Matters

Despite Mario Draghi’s supposedly misinterpreted comments earlier this week, there are global indications that the best of this round has already been reached. Policymakers are always going to claim things are improving, that much is given. But there is tremendous difference between that and what has occurred, especially if it is indeed rolling over worldwide….

201706.07
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All About Inventory

Andy Hall has been called the God of Oil. As chief of Astenbeck Capital, he has proven at times that even gods can be mortal. In the “rising dollar” period, for example, after making money on the way down Mr. Hall went bullish. That was March 2015: We suspect their projection of current prices into…

201705.31
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Systemic Blindness

MF Global failed on a trade that would have made it enormously profitable. AIG’s portfolios of “toxic waste” ended up making money – for the Federal Reserve. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were ended like the others by liquidity, not losses. SemGroup was another firm that went into bankruptcy during that period, but one that…