4:41 PM, Aug 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Even after yesterday’s promising first time claims and GDP numbers, the state of the economy – especially on the jobs, employment, wages side – remains uncertain and troubling as we enter the Labor Day weekend. As Mark Gimein of Bloomberg reports:
While the headline unemployment rate is indeed falling, we keep finding that other indicators of the job market don’t look great.
And one lagging sector of the labor market is reason for special concern. That would be self-employment. While one might intuitively suspect that self-employment would be on the rise during bad times – as people who can’t get hired, hire themselves – the converse is true.
The self-employment number has historically behaved like other indicators of employment, rising in times of prosperity and falling in recessions.
After other recessions, the number of self-employed bounced back, increasing dramatically in the early 1990s and the early 2000s. Not this time. The self-employment number kept falling into late 2011, and has stayed mainly flat since then, dipping in recent months.
This recovery, then, is still a tentative thing.
From the recovery.
10:43 AM, Aug 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Slow growth is bad for everyone. Including the government, which depends (sort of) on tax revenues to do its job. Now, as Kasia Klimasinska of Bloomberg reports:
9:42 AM, Aug 21, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
First time claims were expected to be come in at 303,000. The actual number was 298,000. As Shobhana Chandra of Bloomberg reports:
12:03 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
If the economic recovery is dismissed as a chimera by half the population, there is a reason. As Aki Ito, Ian Katz, and Ilan Kolet of Bloomberg report:
12:00 AM, Aug 16, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
At long last we are emerging from the blind alleys down which the debate about income inequality seems to have wandered. The first such dead end was marked “fairness.” The top tenth of one percent of earners feel the tax system unfairly expropriates too large a portion of their incomes, bloated though those after-tax incomes are with special tax advantages.
10:06 AM, Aug 13, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Optimists have been hoping for robust GDP growth in the 3rd quarter and had pegged their hopes on improved consumer performance. As is often cited, consumer spending accounts for some 70 percent of GDP. It now seems that last month it did not match expectations. As Lorraine Woellert of Bloomberg reports:
12:00 AM, Aug 9, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Bank of America likes to top rival J.P. Morgan Chase in as many ways as possible. Except one. The $16-to-$17 billion check it is about to write to cover the fine for sins committed before the financial crisis tops the previous record of $13 billion paid by J.P. Morgan Chase just nine months ago. Add fines paid by Bank of America in connection with other activities, and the total take from the bank’s shareholders easily tops $22 billion. That’s certainly is real money, but not so much as to prevent Bank of America from raising its dividend last week.
12:00 AM, Aug 2, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
At last, some good news about the U.S. economy. Sort of. The government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reckons the economy grew at an annual rate of 4 percent in the second quarter of the year (data subject to revision). If that rate continues, five years of a lackadaisical recovery would be replaced by a growth rate more consistent with past recoveries. The government also revised its estimate of a 2.9 percent decline in the economy in the first quarter to a less-disastrous drop of 2.1 percent. But hold the bubbly. Put the quarters together and the -2.1 percent first quarter combined with the +4 percent second quarter means that the tepid growth rate that has characterized the economy for too long was essentially unchanged in the first half of the year.
8:51 AM, Jul 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The 302,000 is a so, so number. But close to what was expected – 300,000. And not as good as last week’s 284,000. But as Bloomberg reports, the monthly average is encouraging.
8:43 AM, Jul 30, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
After contracting in the 1st quarter, 2nd quarter GDP grew by an unexpectedly robust 4.0 percent.
12:00 AM, Jul 26, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Celebrating a fourth birthday and growing nicely. That’s the story of the Dodd-Frank law, designed to end a “too big to fail” banking system that forced taxpayers to bail out bankers who took not only their own banks but the entire financial system to the verge of collapse, and brought on a record recession. Dodd-Frank, which weighed in at over 2,000 pages at birth, has since put on 14,000 pages of implementing regulations, with more to come.
9:35 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By FRANK LAVIN
The discussion over economic inequality in the United States seems to have captured the public imagination, at least on the political left. President Obama has called it “the defining challenge of our time,” and Secretary Clinton has deemed it “a cancer.” Given the shorthand manner in which politicians sometimes refer to policy matters it is not always clear if Obama and Clinton are referring specifically to inequality, the ratio or distribution of wealth in society, or to raw poverty—the fact that millions of Americans live in impoverished circumstances. There is a keen difference in which of these two approaches one takes to the challenge of alleviating misery. Here, I’ve devised a simple test to understand the issue: