201605.04
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A Small Adjustment To Gain Needed Labor Market Sense

The BLS released its updated productivity estimates showing that Q1 2016 was negative for the second straight quarter and the fourth of the past six. Such negative and flat productivity in any real sense doesn’t make sense. This disparity seems to be, as always, in the BLS serially overstating the employment gains. The level of…

201605.04
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Proving Yet Again Global Weakness Starts Here

When commenting on any weakness in the US economy, it has become common even shorthand for any outlet or author to affix the conventional explanation. Suspiciously low growth rates and far too many outright contractions, especially in manufacturing and industry, are blamed on overseas weakness and the dollar as if absent that foreign interference all…

201605.03
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Getting Far Too Caught Up In The One Step Forward

It seems as if some “markets” are having a difficult time coping with the different speed at which the economy is changing. Maybe that should be expected given the dramatic transformation of them into often computer-driven frenzies of headline scans. But this is something else, made so by the nature of this current economic condition…

201605.03
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PMI’s May Seem To Change, But The Trend Does Not

The ongoing lesson in PMI interpretation added another layer with China’s turn. The official manufacturing PMI dropped back to 50.1in April from 50.2 in March. Last month’s rise above 50 was the first in that position since last July. Because of the mainstream interpretation about what 50 or not 50 means, it was taken then…

201605.02
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The Weakness Is Really Different Now

If there is any wonder why PMI’s deserve scorn, this morning’s twin bill delivered solid reasoning. Both the ISM Manufacturing Index and the Markit Manufacturing PMI declined, and both remained above 50. However, there was no real consensus about what any of it meant. Depending on the media outlet determining commentary about either, there was…

201604.29
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Always About Income

The emphasis on the labor market has become ubiquitous but it is not being used in the manner with which it should be used. It is now permanently attached to words like “despite” or “in contrast” no matter which economic data point is being described. The Wall Street Journal provides a perfect example in writing…

201604.28
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Ritual Weakness Is More About The Ritual Than The Weakness

The worst part of this stilted or stunted economy is that it isn’t nearly good enough to produce widespread prosperity (with very real questions as to whether it produces any prosperity at all). It has become self-reinforcing, however, to the point of circular logic. We (economists) are now so conditioned by the low, unstable growth…

201604.28
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Where Is (Was) The Overheating?

With no “unusual” snow or “residual seasonality”, the US economy once again grinds to a halt in Q1 only now with no more reasons to dismiss it. In what has become an annual ritual, GDP barely moves in the quarter immediately following the Christmas holiday. This time, however, it wasn’t just consumers holding back in…

201604.27
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Focused On The Wrong End of Oil

The front end of the oil price complex continues to get all the attention because it seems to further the more optimistic narrative. It is the back end, however, that is most significant. The nearer maturities of the futures curve reflect more the funding environment than the fundamental view of oil and the economy. The…

201604.27
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Slowing

The big news of the day had nothing to do with Janet Yellen, which was entirely appropriate given both her stance on the economy and anything she could possibly, realistically do about it (nothing). Apple reported results that were shocking in many ways, though not necessarily unexpectedly so. Last quarter, CEO Tim Cook had warned…