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

August retail sales rebound slightly, argue for continued strong jobs growth in autumn

August retail sales rebound slightly, argue for continued strong jobs growth in autumn Let’s take a look at retail sales, which are perhaps my favorite monthly economic indicator, since they tell us so much about average consumer behavior, and are also a good short leading indicator for jobs.Nominally retail sales increased 0.7% for August, after […]

Jobless claims continue in normal mid-cycle range

Jobless claims continue in normal mid-cycle range Last week I encouraged readers to take the very low jobless claims number with a grain of salt due to Labor Day artifacts, and see if the big reduction was maintained or reversed this week. This week did indeed reverse the pattern somewhat, but not enough to interfere […]

Industrial production now exceeds pre-pandemic level

Industrial production now exceeds pre-pandemic level Industrial production, the King of Coincident Indicators, was reported this morning for August and was positive in a particularly significant way. Total production increased 0.4% in August, and the manufacturing component increased 0.1%. Nothing particularly special about that; in fact the manufacturing component was a little weak compared with […]

A more “normal” consumer inflation reading for August belies damage to the economy going forward

A more “normal” consumer inflation reading for August belies damage to the economy going forward Inflation, along with the expiration of the emergency pandemic payment, is one of the two big threats to this expansion. This morning August consumer inflation was the lowest in 6 months, up only 0.3% – within the range of a […]

On the downside of the Delta wave, vaccinations make all the difference

Coronavirus dashboard for September 13: on the downside of the Delta wave, vaccinations make all the difference With each passing day, it becomes increasingly likely that the peak of the Delta wave was just before Labor Day. We’ll probably get a pop in the weekly average number tomorrow, as today’s numbers replace the Labor Day […]

Coronavirus dashboard for September 10: was Labor Day indeed the peak of the Delta wave?

Coronavirus dashboard for September 10: was Labor Day indeed the peak of the Delta wave? I have been saying for some time that the Delta wave would probably peak around Labor Day. It’s not certain yet, but it is looking increasingly likely to have been the case. The Delta wave struck in both the US […]

The market still out of equilibrium, no additional hiring from early termination of benefits

July JOLTS report shows market still out of equilibrium, no additional hiring from early termination of benefits This morning’s JOLTS report for July is particularly important, because July was the first full month after a number of GOP-controlled States terminated enhanced unemployment benefits, on the theory that they were excessive and were coddling idle workers. […]

Jobless claims blow away the Delta wave (but beware Labor Day seasonality)

Jobless claims blow away the Delta wave (but beware Labor Day seasonality) This morning’s initial jobless claims report makes it shockingly evident that the Delta wave has had no appreciable effect on at least the “firing” side of the jobs market (vs. the “hiring” side, where it might have). Initial claims declined 35,000 to 310,000, […]

The unemployment rate is not *uniquely* overestimating the “true” employment situation

The unemployment rate is not *uniquely* overestimating the “true” employment situation Bill McBride a/k/a Calculated Risk put up an entry over the weekend positing that the employment situation is worse than the unemployment rate indicates. He bases this on the expectation that the overall labor force was expected to grow by 100,000 a month in 2020 […]

August jobs report: some weak points, but the underlying very good trend continues

August jobs report: some weak points, but the underlying very good trend continues While the NBER has declared that the recession ended in April 2020, neither the King nor Queen of Coincident Indicators, industrial production, and jobs, have recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. The former is only off by -0.2%, but the latter – which […]