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

The money quandary

The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan are considering further quantitative easing. It’s an explicit statement, as with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, or implied by the fact that the foreign exchange intervention will eventually be sterilized if the policy rule is not changed, as with the […]

Evaluating the "excess" in the US corporate financial balance

In a NY Times op-ed, Rob Parenteau and Yves Smith reminded us that the private sector financial balance is a function of the household financial balance and the corporate financial balance. They concluded the following regarding excess corporate saving: So instead of pursuing budget retrenchment, policymakers need to create incentives for corporations to reinvest their […]

Private-sector leverage says that it’s not Bill Clinton

What’s your answer? “Thinking about the past few decades… to the best of your knowledge, which ONE of the following U.S. Presidents do you think did the best job of managing the economy?” Bill Clinton Ronald Reagan Barack Obama Lyndon B. Johnson George W. Bush Richard Nixon That’s question #11 of the the Allstate-National Journal […]

Household leverage: what does the US have that the UK does not?

Earlier this week I compared household saving rates across the US, UK, Canada, and Germany. My conclusion was pretty simple: So generally, this simple analysis would suggest that Menzie Chinn’s skepticism of a “status quo” of US consumer imports is worthy. But with the status quo firmly in place in Germany, the household saving data […]

Household saving rates in the US, UK, and Germany: (possibly) light at the end of the tunnel

Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser breaks down US import data by sector to argue the following (see entire article here): What is clear is that consumer goods do not vary that much; now, part of auto and auto parts is going to satisfy consumer demand as well, and here we do have some evidence in support […]

Nope, it’s not enough for the weakest of the "Zone"

Spanning the period April 14, 2010 to June 7, 2010, the euro lost 12.5% in value against the $US (this is not a trade-weighted measure of the currency value, but it’ll do). As the currency tumbled, Q2 nominal export income grew quickly over the quarter for the top 5 economies in the Eurozone: Germany, 6% […]

The compensationless recovery

New York Times David Leonhardt argues that real wages are rising, so those resilient workers that remain employed will benefit from the bounce-back in “effective pay”. The problem with this insight is twofold: first, the expansion phase of real hourly compensation, a broader measure of total earnings, is falling; and second, sitting atop a mountain […]

Another illustration of the struggling US labor market: teen employment

This recession caused a severe disruption in the labor market for teen employment. The chart below illustrates the unemployment rate alongside the employment-to-population ratio for those aged 16-19 years. The visual is quite striking: at the peak of the business cycle, December 2007, the difference between the employment-to-population ratio over the unemployment rate was roughly […]