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

Australia…escaped a total meltdown, but still far from healthy

by Rebecca Australia is another on the short list of countries that “escaped recession” (another is Poland, which I wrote about earlier). As much of the developed world struggles with job loss and weak economic groundwork, Australia managed to push through the global meltdown with just one quarter of negative growth, -2.8% annualized growth in […]

Weekend charts: the destruction of the "goods-producing" payroll

Rebecca The BLS establishment survey (nonfarm payroll) reports that the accumulated job loss since December 2007 is 5.02% (almost 7 million jobs), blowing the total job loss of the previous “biggie” recessions, the 73-75 and 81-82 recessions, out of the water by 2.5% and 2%, respectively. There’s no question that it has been bad, with […]

The pre-labor report labor reports

Rebecca Let’s investigate these pre-BLS reports. There are many job reports out there, but here are some of the biggies that come out right before the official government BLS employment situation (not a coincidence). Monster Employment Index (not seasonally adjusted) – an index geared toward online recruiting trends. Challenger job cuts (not seasonally adjusted) – […]

G-20 to talk about ‘exit strategies’…

Rebecca Wilder With the developed and developing economies printing money like it’s going out of style, the exit strategy – i.e., taking back the hundred percent increase in the monetary base (at least in the US) – is rumored to be the topic du jour at the G-20 summit later this month. According to Reuters, […]

Not all of Europe is in free-fall

Rebecca Wilder Poland: the bull of eastern and central Europe. While most of central and eastern Europe are either defending exchange rate pegs – this limits the ability to stimulate the economy through monetary policy – and/or running large current account deficits (see chart 2 here), Poland grew a remarkable 1.1% in the second quarter […]

Consumer confidence: fluff or thrill

by Rebecca Wilder Thrill. The Conference Board reported that the August consumer confidence index (CCI) jumped 14% in August to 54.06. In contrast, the August University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index (CSI) fell; but the two generally trend together, and the CSI is subject to revisions reported tomorrow. Confidence can be swayed by current political […]

Trends in home values: becoming murky

by Rebecca Wilder Actually, murky is something of a good thing when referring to business cycle dynamics. It usually means that a bottom is forming. In some sense, the key to recovery is the stabilization of home values. If home values would just “stop” declining – I understand that there is a market mechanism going […]

How I Eliminated $15.4 TRILLION in Unfunded Debt: for $1.50 a week

by Bruce Webb Don’t step in the Voodoo. Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink Yhe latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household in 2008, according to the USA TODAY analysis. That’s quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and […]

Time for Clarity: Income vs Cost & the Six Approaches to ‘fixing’ Social Security

by Bruce Webb Over the next couple of days I’ll be rolling out what I am tentatively calling the Northwest Plan for Fixing Social Security, ‘Northwest’ because the three current contributers happen to live in the Pacific Northwest. But before doing so I want to lay out some of the conceptual differences underlying various discussions […]

Science Budget

By Stormy New Scientist has some kind words for the Obama science budget: Both [the budget and the stimulus package] are packed with funding for science and technology ventures, from healthcare research to an electricity supergrid. The stimulus alone hands out more than $20 billion for basic research and about $50 billion to support renewable […]