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

Weekly Indicators for May 24 – 28 at Seeking Alpha

by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for May 24 – 28 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.The news can be summed up in two words: “less awful.” With the exception of one employment measure, every other indicator has bounced off their recent lows, some very substantially. Meanwhile lower interest rates are setting the stage for growth after the pandemic effects ebb.

As usual, clicking over and reading helps reward me with a couple of pennies for my efforts.

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Is There a Future for FDI?—Update

by Joseph Joyce

Is There a Future for FDI?—Update

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which recently reported on foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2019, has released a new study on the impact of the pandemic on future FDI. The OECD points out notes that FDI flows before the pandemic have been on a downward trend since 2015, and FDI flows in 2018 and 2019 were lower than any years since 2010, suggesting that the decline in FDI will not be reversed when the pandemic eases. This comes as policymakers in the U.S. and elsewhere show concern over Chinese acquisition of domestic firms, and the Chinese government clamps down on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The OECD report’s authors have optimistic, middle and pessimistic scenarios on the effectiveness of public health and economic policy measures, and their impact on FDI flows in the medium term. Under the optimistic scenario, public health measures are effective in controlling the spread of the virus and economic policies successful in restoring economic growth in the latter half of this year. FDI flows would fall between 30% to 40% in 2020 before rising by a similar amount in 2021 to their previous level. Under the middle scenario, public health and economic policy measures are partially but not completely effective, and FDI flows fall between 35% to 45% this year before recovering somewhat in 2021, but would remain about one-third below pre-crisis levels.  The pessimistic scenario is based on the need for continued measures to contain the virus and repair extensive economic damage, which would lead to drop in FDI flows of over 40% this year and no recovery in 2021.

The impact of an extended decline in FDI will be particularly severe for emerging market and developing economies, which have already seen the reversal of portfolio capital flows. The OECD report points out that the primary and manufacturing sectors, which account for a large proportion of FDI in these economies, have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic. Moreover, the corporate earnings that are a major source of the funding of new FDI expenditures by multinational firms fell in 2019 and will decline further this year.

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It didn’t happen overnight

by Ken Melvin

3rd World

It didn’t happen overnight.

The nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in, say, Southeast Asian, African, South American, … countries, invariably refer to the tenuous hold on life of their working poor; they don’t really have a job. Each day they rise and go forth looking for work that pays enough that they and their family can continue to subsist. It is, in some countries, a long-standing problem.

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe’s lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers’ workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; … Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a ‘Labor Contractor’ come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn’t have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

… American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, … are all going to have to work for less …

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, … was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, … to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top.

 

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Weekly Indicators for May 18 – 22 at Seeking Alpha

by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for May 18 – 22 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

Many of the indicators are bouncing off their worst levels, especially those like mortgages that are affected by lower interest rates. On the other hand, employment losses continue to spread out.

As usual, clicking over and reading not only should be educational for you, but rewards me a little bit for my efforts.

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Housing permits and starts plummet in April, but mortgage applications suggest big rebound in May

by New Deal democrat

Housing permits and starts plummet in April, but mortgage applications suggest big rebound in May

At some point it is going to be safe for the economy to be completely reopened. When that point comes it would be nice if the leading sectors of the economy have already been priming the pump for a consumer rebound.  As usual housing is the most important long leading sector in that analysis.

As expected, housing tanked in April. But it is likely setting the baseline for improvement in the coming months, as new record low mortgage rates have brought out new buyers, as shown by new mortgage applications which as of this morning are only -1.5% below where they were last year at this time.

This post is up at Seeking Alpha. As usual, clicking over and reading should be educational for you, and helps reward me a little bit for my efforts.

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