Free Markets, Free People

stagflation

“Unexpectedly”, we’re back at 9.2% unemployment

urea am glad we wasted all the money on Stimulus so we could stay below the promised 8% aren’t you?

U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in June, with employers hiring the fewest number of workers in nine months, dousing hopes the economy would regain momentum in the second half of the year.

Nonfarm payrolls rose only 18,000, the weakest reading since September, the Labor Department said on Friday, well below economists’ expectations for a 90,000 rise.

The unemployment rate climbed to a six-month high of 9.2 percent, even as jobseekers left the labor force in droves, from 9.1 percent in May.

So here we are in Recovery Summer II, huh?   You know, I’d go through all the reasons for this but I think you know them pretty well by now.

The results, however, should be reviewed, because we’re suffering them because of this administration’s cluelessness, the Fed’s cluelessness, and the government’s over-regulation and war on business – not to mention the mounting debt.  Oh, wait, I just went through all the reasons again, didn’t I?

"The message on the economy is ongoing stagnation," said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision economics in New York. "Income growth is marginal so there’s no indication of momentum.

Gee, wish we’d been saying that for the last few months/years.  As Dale has said for quite some time on our podcast, we’re looking stagflation directly in the eye and in the process of recreating the Japanese “lost decade” – except it is possible this may linger for more than a decade given our debt.

The report shattered expectations the economy was starting to accelerate after a soft patch in the first half of the year. It could prompt calls for the Federal Reserve to consider further action to help the economy, but Fed officials have set a high bar.

The U.S. central bank wrapped up a $600 billion bond-buying program last week designed to spur lending and stimulate growth.

"This confirms our view that the Fed will continue to keep rates on hold into 2012 and if weak employment continues it will be pushed out even further," said Tom Purcell, chief economist, RBC Capital Markets in New York.

Classic, obviously predictable (I mean, we did it) and inevitable given the way the problem was tackled.

Oh, btw, 10% is not at all impossible, given the continued policies of this administration.

Just saying’, so it won’t be considered “unexpected” if it happens.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Feb 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the demonstrations by public employee unions in Wisconsin, and the state of the economy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Looking at the PPI

Today’s release of the Producer Price Index raises some interesting and scary questions. The core PPI was up only 0.1%, but a 1.2% increase in good prices and a 0.5% increase in energy prices brought the overall PPI up by 0.4%.

Now, the reason that food and energy are excluded from the core PPI and CPI is that they often show a lot of monthly volatility. Those prices simply rise and fall quickly, so, on a month-to-month basis, they may not mean much. Ultimately, however, a trend of price increases in, say, energy will trend to raise prices across the board, as that increases the cost of production.

The traditional Keynesian argument about inflation is that it tends to decrease when the economy is struggling, as aggregate demand is stifled. Sadly, in the 1970′s we learned that simply wasn’t true, and the existence of stagflation sent the Keynesians back to the drawing board for about 15 years to reformulate a Neo-Keynesian economic model. Essentially what happened in the late 60′s and early 70′s was that the Fed pursued a very accomodative monetary policy. Ultimately, even a slow economy couldn’t prevent that monetary expansion from showing up as inflation.

Sound familiar?

It should, because the housing boom was kicked off by a similar policy, and since the collapse, the Fed has pursued a policy of “quantitative easing”, i.e., buying $1.2 trillion of securities with hastily printed money. Overall, the monetary base has more than doubled over the past two years, also, as the Fed has kept short-term interest rates at 0%.

So, I guess the question is whether today’s PPI is just a monthly outlier due to the volatile sectors, or whether it’s a sign that monetary expansion is beginning to kick off an inflationary spike that will soon begin to show up in the CPI as real, noticeable inflation.

Podcast for 21 Feb 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss the economy in the US and Europe, as well as gun rights.  The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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