Friday, February 5, 2010

Markets Down

The Unexpected

arthur.i Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Bottom line – Americans consume too much.

Too much for their health, the health of the earth and now the health of their own pockets. Young people are just not into it. Under 23, maybe even 27. What if a real shift is just starting to take place. Less is better. Get rid of the crap, set yourself free. If we all cut back, on average just 10 percent of purchases…what does that do to the S&P500?

Avatar. What’s that message? One with nature. I have heard of some young people who are contemplating committing suicide because they can’t go and live on Pandora. WTF???

This is the 21st century…IMO, we are not going back to the 20th.

“Ask yourself what outcome would surprise the most people — the economy sliding in a double dip recession – or a stronger than anticipated recovery?”

Surprise is something we really do not expect. How many 10’s of millions expect that we are OK from here, bottom behind us? How many millions more expect that the sh*t will hit the fan in do time? So what really would surprise us? That we don’t expect?

Are Americans going to wake up and realize that hoping for a dead-end boring life sucking job is not something that really makes them jump up and shout with glee? That would surprise me.

What would surprise you?

Casual Onlooker Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

“We are forming a new jobless, opportunity-less class while trying to slow the momentum of those who are on the verge of falling there. That is until someone invents the internet again… and people can reside in the websites.”

I think you have succinctly addressed the crux of the problem. What I have been witnessing is that those with limited or no skills have been increasingly pushed out of the marketplace. One personal metric I use to gauge the health of the economy is to watch the number and type of internal job listings on the website of the company I work for. (medium’ish global company) What I have seen is that the lower level positions disappear very quickly, but there are a number of specialised skill sets that have had unfilled openings for the better part of a year.

IMHO the ultimate “solution” for a growth economy is to build a much more educated workforce and to emphasize those areas of the economy that can use them. In my ideal world we would shift away from a service economy to an investment one. Of course that is long term and in the short term there is a lot of pain to be had, mostly for those disaffected that don’t have the skills.


It’s not a matter of needing to “get over it”, nor is there some kind of darwinian spin on this, whatever that ultimately means. What I see out there is a a lot of anger and fear. Anger/Fear can be helpful as they make us sit up and pay attention, but eventually more than pointing fingers has to occur for there to be a reasonable discourse that leads to change. Often I see the comments are used to incite rather than provide insight.

Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture Blog:
Today’s NFP data was surprising — both to the upside and the downside. 20,000 jobs were lost in January, below the consensus. But everywhere else, there were surprising improvements.

Is it possible that those people expecting a mediocre recovery and weak employment picture — including me — might be pleasantly surprised? A closer look suggests that many people may be underestimating the recovery.

Consider the cyclical progress that occurs as a recovery takes hold: Revenues improve, followed eventually by greater Profits. Companies have been doing capital expenditure spending first . . . and only hiring when they have to. Greater hiring leads to greater spending.

So far, we have seen the revenue improvements, and the beginnings of better profits. Various tech firms (Cisco in particular) are seeing improving CapEx orders. Temp Help has improved, and some firms are actually hiring.

Ask yourself what outcome would surprise the most people — the economy sliding in a double dip recession – or a stronger than anticipated recovery?

Here are some other data points beneath the headlines:


1. BLS reported that in January, persons unemployed “due to job loss” decreased by 378,000 to 9.3 million. That is a decent number. And, “nearly all of this decline” came from the “permanent job losers.” (See table A-11.)

2. The Underemployed – Persons who want full time jobs but working part time instead — fell from 9.2 to 8.3 million in January. That is an enormous improvement. (See table A-8.)

3. Temporary help services added 52,000 jobs — that is a leading indicator of future hiring. (See table B-1.) Since the temp help lows in September 2009, temporary help services employment has risen by 247,000.

4. The Household survey showed growth of 541,000 workers. In a recovery, this tends to pick up new employees (especially at smaller firms) faster than other measures. The Household Survey isn’t “large firm ” biased the way the Establishment Survey is.

5. After experiencing steep job losses earlier in the recession, job losses in manufacturing has moderated considerably.

6. Retail trade employment rose by 42,000 in January, after showing little
change in the prior 2 months.


1. 2009 benchmark revision reveal employment in 2009 was far worse than originally believed — revised data showed nearly 600,000 more jobs lost than previously reported.

2. The number of long-term unemployed — jobless for 27 weeks or longer — is still rising. Since the December 2007 start of the recession, long-term unemployed has risen by 5.0 million. (See table A-12.)

3. NiLFS — Not in Labor Force — rose 409,000 to ~2.5 million persons. They are also called “marginally attached to the labor force” — not in the labor force, want and available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. (See table A-16.)

4. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls are still near record lows — 33.9 hours in January.5. 1.1 million discouraged workers in January is a huge increase of 734,000 from a year earlier. (Discouraged workers are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them)

6. Revisions continue to be negative. December 2009 was revised downwards to 150k loss from 85k.

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