Summary: Since 2010 I have said that the economy is locked in slow-mo and the Fed will not start a new rate cycle. It’s even more true today than in 2010.
- Many investors and economists are convinced that the Fed will soon end its near-zero interest rate policy and begin raising rates – “normalizing them”.
- As I and others have said since the crash, these times are not normal (i.e., the post-WWII era has ended).
- Most economic indicators show flat or slowing economic growth.
- The developed world has fallen into secular stagnation.
- The next event is not a boom requiring higher rates, but a recession.
Short-term riskless US rates are set in the world’s largest market:
when will rates return to normal?
We have been told for six years that soon interest rates will rise. During that time, the right-wing’s inflationistas have predicted rising inflation, or even hyperinflation (remember the 2010 “Obama will turn America into Zimbabwe” scare?). Incredibly, many experts still believe this despite…
Summary: Ignore the Bulls & Bears. Their need for clickbait stories turns noise into news. See the key trends in the jobs numbers, revealing the forces shaping the US economy.
- The jobs report confirms that the US economy grows slowly, and is slowing.
- It gives no evidence that the US is accelerating, or that the Fed will raise rates.
- If it continues slowing at this rate, we will have a recession in 2019.
- High equity valuations make no sense in this slow motion economy.
- Beware of analysts who sell stories about exciting noise, hiding the boring but important trends.
Summary: Today’s job report show one reason we see our world so poorly — we read the news. Journalists and the experts who make headlines give us exciting stories of constant change. But the world usually changes slowly. Sometimes, as in this economic cycle, slow stable boring growth is the story. That generates no clickbait, so we get statistical noise magnified into thrilling news. People of bearish views (temperamentally, or because the “other” political party rules) read the stories of imminent collapse — and vice versa. And vice versa for the bulls. Both become entertained and ignorant.
What’s happening? Slow growth, with small fluctuations around the trend.
Excerpts, slightly paraphrased, from the Employment Situation Report for August tell the tale, as this slow expansion continues — frustrating both the bulls (boom soon!) and bears (recession now!).
- Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 in August, compared with an average monthly gain of 232,000 over the prior three months and 204,000 over the prior 12 months.
- “Little movement over the year” in the unemployment rate, and the labor force participation rate, and in the number of unemployed and discouraged workers.
- No change in the past year in the average weekly hours of production and non-supervisory employees in the private sector. Their average weekly earnings were almost unchanged during August, and rose 2.2% YoY.
Summary: Another jobs report, more clickbait headlines about the monthly noise. Here’s a look beneath the glitz to the important news. The US economy continues slow steady growth, with continued signs of slowing. Also, 47% of new jobs went to foreign-born workers during the past year. Important matters. Too bad neither the candidates, journalists, or Americans care about such things. On to the next astounding soundbite!
- The noise: monthly changes in jobs.
- The important news about the trend in number of jobs.
- A clearer trend: total number of hours worked.
- Where were the new jobs?
- What about the info sector jobs machine? Let’s all become programmers!
- A red flag: growth in temp workers has slowed to almost zero.
- It’s not a “Starbucks Economy”. See the slow but steady wage growth.
- Explosive news: 47% of new jobs went to foreign-born workers.
- Conclusions and For More Information
Here are the monthly numbers that generate the exciting headlines!
It’s noise. The trends are almost impossible to clearly see.
Graph of the monthly change in jobs since Jan 2013 (SA).
Here is a more useful graph. Employment is still growing, but slowing.
Do you see why the monthly outpourings of joy or despair during the past 4 years?
The real story is the stability of the slow growth in the US economy.
Graph of the year-over-year percentage growth in jobs (not seasonally adjusted).
Summary: The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), who correctly predicted the slow recovery, looks at the multi-year slowing in the economies of the developed nations — its causes (the world is becoming Japan) and likely consequences.
ECRI, 20 June 2016.
Reposted with their generous permission.
The risk of a global recession is edging up, as the global slowdown we first noted last fall continues (ICO Essentials, September 2015). This danger is heightened because longer-term trend growth is slowing in every Group of Seven (G7) economy, as dictated by simple math: growth in output per hour, i.e., labor productivity – plus growth in the potential labor force – a proxy for hours worked – adding up to real GDP growth.
As we laid out over a year ago (USCO Essentials, June 2015), this simple combination of productivity and demographic trends reveals that U.S. trend GDP growth is converging toward 1%. This is reminiscent of Japan during its “lost decades,” where average annual real GDP growth registered just ¾%, which is why we have cautioned that the U.S. is “becoming Japan” (USCO Essentials, February 2016) and (ICO, July 2013).
Expanding this analysis to the rest of the G7, we find that every economy is effectively becoming Japan, and the sharpest slowdowns are happening outside North America. Thus, as trend growth falls in the world’s largest advanced economies amid the ongoing global slowdown, the threat of a global recession is growing.