Hotels' leading indicators point up

Based on the latest Hotel Industry Leading Indicator index, the hospitality sector has been growing again for about two months. The index is ahead of the business cycle by about five months; October's number was its seventh straight increase.
Dec 7, 2009 7:54 AM

A step back on the jobs number

After Friday's employment summary surprise, James Picerno brings us all back to earth a little. Yes, layoffs are "rapidly fading" and the recession is essentially over, but there's plenty still to worry about.
The hard work is about to begin. As difficult as it's been to return the economy to a state of treading water, that will pale next to the business of promoting non-inflationary growth on a meaningful scale in the years ahead. Simply expanding the labor market to its pre-recession level—roughly 7 million jobs more than we currently have—will require an unusually lengthy and potent expansion. As if that wasn't enough, there's the threat of high inflation, rising interest rates and a hefty debt load on governments and consumers lurking. This isn't going to be easy.
For more on how to get the jobs recovery started, check out this discussion on stimulating (or not) the labor market at ThinkMarkets. Among the thoughts: It probably wouldn't hurt us to take a breath and let companies adjust to where the economy is these days.
None of these suggestions exhibits the slightest understanding that labor markets need time to readjust. It is as if, for Krugman, some nasty irrational force has it in for labor employment (the “lagging indicator”). Yet entrepreneurs must figure out what the sustainable lines of production will be after a bubble period. All of this is presumably viewed as a minor issue because the major problem is consumers are too afraid to spend (on what?). Anything will do in Krugman’s world.
Dec 7, 2009 7:23 AM

Service sector still struggling

The ISM's index of the service economy retreated in November as overall activity and order backlogs both fell significantly.
Dec 4, 2009 7:18 AM

Goldman: No drop in jobless rate for two years

Look the other way if you want optimism on the U.S. job market: Goldman Sachs' economic team sees average GDP growth for the next two years, but says the unemployment rate will peak a little above where we are now in mid-2011.
Dec 3, 2009 1:23 PM

The odds of consumers leading us out of recession

With real consumption still not back to pre-recesssion levels, Richard K. Green has a number of reasons why consumers won't be a growth engine. One of the main ones: We really could be on our way to being more responsible with our money.
Suppose the steady state household debt to GDP ratio is 70 percent. If the national economy uses 5 percent of its income to pay down that debt (which is about 7.5 percent of current consumption), at an interest rate of 8 percent, it would take 8.5 years to de-lever down to the steady state ratio.
Dec 1, 2009 10:54 AM

Peeking ahead at inflation

Bob Summers at Pali Research says we shouldn't put too much stock in the USDA's forecast that food prices will rise at least 3 percent next year.
Nov 30, 2009 10:03 AM

Feeling upbeat yet?

Then try to get through this summary by Bill Bonner of why the Great Recession will turn into something nastier and longer-lasting.
“Take Your Gains,” says Forbes. And once you’re out of stocks, stay out until the bear market is over…probably at around 3,000 – 5,000 on the Dow. When the price of gold equal the price of the Dow, it will be time to switch.
Nov 24, 2009 9:35 AM

An inflection point in business lending?

A new study shows that the country's smallest companies have been steadily investing in growth since the spring. These microbusinesses have been a positive leading indicator in the past.
In past downturns, microbusinesses businesses have led their larger counterparts in and out of the slumps. In the recession at the start of this decade, for instance, delinquencies by businesses with less than $250,000 in borrowings peaked in January and February of 2001, just as the downturn was officially beginning, according to PayNet's analysis. Delinquencies by businesses with borrowings of between $250,000 and $1 million did not peak until January 2002, according to PayNet -- months after the recession officially ended. And delinquencies by even bigger borrowers peaked only in March 2003 -- more than a year into the rebound.
Nov 23, 2009 11:26 AM

Why the stock market may be getting the recovery wrong

Barry Ritholtz responds to a Robert Shiller piece that throws out the idea that a recession like this one can end in large part because we've decided it's time for it to end. In doing so, he takes an ax to the wisdom of crowds.
Earlier this year, the Dow had dropped over 5,000 points in 6 months. One of the collective fallacies our culture operates under is the delusion that the market is some kind of astute forecasting machine. It is not — it represents the collective wisdom of 10 million panicked monkeys. That millions of slightly clever, pants wearing primates can combine their collective ignorance, their intellectual foibles, biases and false beliefs somehow into something resembling intelligence was one of the false beliefs of the era.
Nov 23, 2009 8:30 AM
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State jobless rate stays put

Tennessee's unemployment rate was 10.5 percent in October, even with September's number and almost 4 points higher than that of a year ago. The biggest gainers and losers during the month were seasonal sectors: Schools added jobs, leisure and hospitality companies shed them.
Nov 19, 2009 3:09 PM