Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Initial Unemployment claims stay above 330,000

In a post 3 days ago, I referred to an article by Doug Short on his graph for the ratio of initial unemployment claims to the civilian labor force. He made the point that the ratio may have already hit a trough. If that turns out to be true, weekly initial unemployment claims will trend above 330,000 into the future. Today’s new data on initial unemployment claims supports that view. For the week ending February 8th, the seasonally adjusted initial claims were 339,000. The consensus forecast was for 330,000. The 4-week moving average moved up to 336,750.

 

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Show me the (subsidy) spreadsheets!

Good Jobs First’s new report, Show Us the Subsidized Jobs, is its third assessment of state subsidy transparency, following up on reports published in 2007 and 2010. The good news is that transparency continues to spread: From 23 states in 2007 to 37 in 2010 to 47 plus the District of Columbia in 2014.* The bad news is that for most states, online transparency still has a long way to go.

Why is transparency important? As the reports says, without it, it

makes it impossible for the public to get at even the most basic return on investment, accountability or equity questions. Which companies received subsidies (and what kinds of companies)? Are they delivering on job creation? How good are the new jobs? Where will the jobs be located? Reasonable people cannot have an informed debate and policymakers cannot watch the store without good job-subsidy data.

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Economic philosophy on the strength of community…

I have a student in Mozambique, Africa, who is doing an essay on how to create real economic growth among the general population. His main thesis was…

“The Strenth of a man is determined by his ability to rise when he falls”

I asked him to change his thesis to this idea…

“The Strength of a community is determined by its ability to support good men when they fall”

The logic is that even a strong and good man cannot rise when the community does not support him. His response to the change was this…

“You have made me laugh.  your idea has made too much sense. I am changing it immediately.  Thanks”

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Cash troubles in Afghanistan…

I have a student in Afghanistan. He reports that capital flows are disrupting business there. He says that foreign and domestic money is leaving the country. The most important thing he tells me is that businesses are not paying wages. Many businesses have not paid wages in the past 3 months.

He says that many businesses are protecting their cash outside of the country and resist bringing it back in, even to pay wages.

Keep in mind this is a report from just one person. Exactly how widespread or long-term this liquidity problem is, I do not know.

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Propane, drying corn, and cold winter

RB Energy describes the problems with commercial and residential propane markets:

We’ve been talking a lot over the past year about the need for increasing exports to balance the U.S propane market as growth in production from gas processing plants outruns domestic demand.  U.S. propane production from gas processing has increased by over 100 Mb/d since January 2013, and there’s lots more to come.  For the first time U.S. propane exports exceeded 400 Mb/d in October 2013 thanks to growing U.S supply and infrastructure developments including dock expansions by Enterprise and Targa.  But just after exports ramped up, the propane market was hit by a couple of wild cards – a late and very heavy crop drying season and a series of record cold temperature events. In today’s blog, we continue our series covering the record setting 2014 NGL markets.

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Paul Krugman vs. … um … me. [Updated.]

No, no; of course, I don’t mean that Paul Krugman has expressly disputed something I wrote here on AB.  Or that he has ever read a post of mine.  Or that he knows that I exist.  Those latter two things have happened, but only in my dreams. The first of those has never happened at all.

Well, not directly, anyway.

But on Feb. 6, I posted a piece here that I titled “Republicans and Dana Milbank Solve the Unemployment Problem in Germany, Canada, Taiwan and Australia: Those countries just need to repeal their universal-healthcare laws and tie healthcare insurance to full-time employment at large corporations!”  The gist of which was that the claim that it is a bad thing economically for the country that Obamacare ends (to some extent) the U.S.’s overwhelmingly prevalent access-to-healthcare-insurance job-lock, as a practical matter requiring that one member of a family hold a full-time job at a company that provides access to healthcare insurance for full-time employees and their immediate dependent family members, conflicts with the experiences of every single other advanced economy in the world.  None of which predicates access to healthcare insurance upon a family member’s full-time employment at a company that provides access to healthcare insurance for its full-time employees. Some of which (I believe) are healthier economies than ours.

And today, Krugman, in a blog post titled “Why Do You Care How Much Other People Work?”, answers that question thusly:

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Six Decades of U.S. Population Growth

The growth rate of the U.S. population has been in a generally downward trend since the post-war baby boom peaked in 1957.  Graph 1 shows the YoY percent change in the total population.


Graph 1 – U.S Population Growth since 1952

The precipitous growth rate drop through the sixties came to an abrupt halt in 1969, when early boomers like me started having our families.  My son, daughter and two step sons were all born in the blip spanning 1969 to ’73.  There might be a similar reason for the mid to late 70’s growth rate, but there also might be a bit more to it.

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