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

Yes, Virginia, the government shutdown really did cause a mini-recession

Yes, Virginia, the government shutdown really did cause a mini-recession For the past several months, I have been pounding on the idea that the government shutdown, during which 800,000 jobholders were temporarily laid off without pay, had a much bigger impact on the economy than was originally thought. This morning we get the following graph […]

San Francisco Fed: ease of finding a new job is driving improved labor force participation

San Francisco Fed: ease of finding a new job is driving improved labor force participation This is a surprising result that is worth noting: the San Francisco Fed found that the increase in prime age labor force participation in the past five years has not been due to new people being drawn into the labor […]

Twelve Big Picture bullet points on the economy

Twelve Big Picture bullet points on the economy It’s a really slow week for economic data. Really the only important report is new home sales, which will be released Thursday. I’ve been working on a few things, but they are really information-dense and time-consuming to organize, and because they deal with how long leading indicators […]

Nancy Pelosi is an able tactician, but a poor strategist. She will not save the Republic

Nancy Pelosi is an able tactician, but a poor strategist. She will not save the Republic A couple of years ago I read Andrew Roberts’ tome on Napoleon. As a schoolboy, Napoleon voraciously inhaled everything he could read about military conflict, including several then-recent books suggesting novel tactics. As a young general, he implemented those […]

Consumer credit: both producer and consumer sides of the ledger show mortgage market OK, increasing stress for other loans

Consumer credit: both producer and consumer sides of the ledger show mortgage market OK, increasing stress for other loans The New York Fed reported on household debt and credit. The good news is that there has been no increase in total delinquencies: This is important because the amount of delinquencies would be expected to increase if […]

We Already Passed a Constitutional Crisis into Presidential Autocracy

I don’t think we have entered a constitutional crisis. I think for all intents and purposes we are already past it, because of the ineffectual response to Trump’s autocratic behavior. On February 15, he brazenly abrogated Congress’s appropriations power with this diversion of funds for his “border wall.” Presidential Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency […]

Gas prices fail to ignite overall inflation in April, but real wages flat so far for 2019

Gas prices fail to ignite overall inflation in April, but real wages flat so far for 2019 The consumer price index rose +0.3% in April, just as in March mainly as a result of a big monthly increase in gas prices. This is actually a surprisingly small increase because, as I pointed out last month, […]

Are initial jobless claims showing a re-assertion of an underlying weak economic trend?

Are initial jobless claims showing a re-assertion of an underlying weak economic trend? I don’t normally comment on initial jobless claims, but I’m following them with particular interest at this point. Here’s why. Last spring the long leading indicators were still at least weakly positive. I saw growth ahead through Q1 of this year, and […]