November 9, 2006
It's not falling, but neither is it rising. Initial claims for unemployment insurance are more or less treading water relative to recent history.
This morning's update from the Labor Department reveals that new filings for jobless benefits dropped by 20,000 for the week through November 4 from the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. To put that in perspective, the 308,000 who filed for unemployment last week total slightly less than the weekly average stretching back over the past 10 weeks.
One implication: the economy's not poised to fall into recession any time soon. Then again, growth doesn't look set for a fresh burst either, based recent data from other corners of the economy. Of course, one can't draw too many (if any) conclusions from one data series. In fact, prudence dictates to draw no conclusions for the moment until clearer signs emerge.
The bond market seems to be doing just that. After the yield on the 10-year Treasury consistently fell from July through September, tread water has become fashionable. The 10-year's yield was 4.63% at yesterday's close. Although the yield's had a bit of a ride up and down over the past month or so, not much has changed since the bond bull market ran out of steam in mid-September.
Yes, we know that the economy's slowing, based on recent data. But it's not yet obvious how much it's slowing, or how deeply. Finding an answer to that question will take time, and our guess is that we'll all be celebrating New Year's without much more concrete insight than we have here and now.
And so, absent extraordinary new economic numbers, the next few months could end up being a lot of light and heat without much new information. With the Democratic transition in Congress underway, all eyes are on what awaits in Washington for 2007. But the fun won't start until February at the earliest.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of economic data to pore over. Just don't confuse new numbers with new information, at least not yet. Nap time anyone?
Posted by jp at November 9, 2006 9:33 AM
Economists Are Destroying America
Economists, politicians, and executives from both parties have promised American families that “free” trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and WTO/CHINA would accomplish three things:
• Increase wages
• Create trade surpluses (for the US)
• Reduce illegal immigration
Well, their trade policies have been in effect for about 15 years. Let’s review the results:
• Declining real wages for 80% of working Americans (while healthcare, education, and childcare costs skyrocket)
• A record-high 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance (due in part to declining wages and benefits)
• Illegal immigration out of control
• Soaring trade deficits, much with countries that use slave and child labor
• Personal and national debt both out-of-control
• Global environments threatened by lax trade deal enforcement
Economists Keep Advocating Policies That Aren’t Working
Upon seeing incontrovertible evidence of these negative trade agreement results, economists continue with Pollyannish blather. Some say, “Cheer up! GDP is up and the stock market’s doing fine.” Others say, “Be patient. Stay the course. Free trade will raise all ships.”
Even those economists who acknowledge problems with trade agreements offer us only half-measures—adjusting exchange rates, improving safety nets, and providing better job retraining. None of these will close the wage gap in America—and economists know it.
Why Aren’t American Economists Shouting From Street Corners?
America needs trade deals that support American families and businesses in terms of wage, environmental, and intellectual property abuses. Why aren’t economists demanding renegotiation of our trade deals? There are three primary reasons:
• Economists are too beholden to corporations and special interests that provide them with research grants.
• Economists believe—but refuse to admit—that sacrificing the American middle class is necessary and appropriate to generate gains in third world economies.
• Economists refuse to admit they make mistakes.
Economic Ambulance Chasers
Now more than ever, Americans need their economists to speak truth and stand up to their big business clients. Instead, economists sound like lawyers caught chasing ambulances: they claim they’re “doing it for our benefit”.
Posted by: John Konop at November 9, 2006 7:20 PM