201806.06 5

Proving The ‘L’ In Labor

Back in 2011 and 2012, apple growers in the state of Washington got the government there to declare an emergency. They were expecting a record or near-record crop of fruit but they just couldn’t find enough workers to harvest it all. Faced with a potentially devastating labor shortage, Washington’s governor turned to convicts. I wrote…


Someone Is On Drugs, Alright

For the second straight quarter, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates US productivity growth was less than 1%. That’s not surprising given the weakening in output as measured by GDP, the data reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Productivity is the bridge between the BLS’s labor numbers and the more general economic…


Waiting For Godot’s Wages

Though the BEA revised GDP slightly higher for Q3 2017, the government agency took hourly compensation out to the woodshed. On a quarterly basis, this metric of labor market wage pressures is often quite volatile. In Q4 last year, for instance, nominal hourly compensation was -4.5% Q/Q (annual rate), followed immediately by a 4.9% gain…


Aligning Politics To economics

There is no argument that the New Deal of the 1930’s completely changed the political situation in America, including the fundamental relationship of the government to its people. The way it came about was entirely familiar, a sense from among a large (enough) portion of the general population that the paradigm of the time no…


Enough With The Labor Shortage Already, It Doesn’t/Can’t Exist

Can we finally put to rest all notions that the US economy is at full employment and doing well, and therefore wage inflation is right around the corner? I suspect not. This dance has been ongoing for years now, continuing through what was nearly a recession, so there is little reason to believe that economists…

201506.04 0

Payroll Stats Become Even More Implausible

Since Q1 GDP was revised lower by almost 1% that meant estimates of productivity were going to be even more out of alignment than they were at the first release. Of course, in a less massaged environment productivity might have preserved some sense if there was less rigidity from the BLS on the employment side….


Weekly Economic & Market Review

Is the Greek debt crisis over? Based on the stock market reaction last week one is tempted to say, yes, finally the Greek problem has been solved. Stocks sold off early in the week when it looked as if the deal might not be fully subscribed but recovered as European leaders managed to twist enough…


An Inflation Warning?

Most investors focused today on the employment report from ADP which showed a gain of over 200k jobs. The more interesting – and I think significant – report came 15 minutes later when the BLS released revised figures for 4th quarter productivity and unit labor costs. From Econoday: Productivity growth for the fourth quarter was…


Weekly Economic and Market Review

Got whiplash yet? If not, stand by because volatility is rising and seems likely to get worse in the months ahead. The S&P 500 was up 0.1% last week but that masks the volatility of the week. Stocks were down 1.6% Tuesday and up 1.7% on Thursday after a good jobless claims report (see below)….