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United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

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  • United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

    Today we roll out our United Banana Republic of America (UBRA) flag as we dig into the Labor Department's numbers to see where all these jobs came from, but the fact is that our projection yesterday of today's payroll numbers was wrong.

    The good news: unemployment is only slightly up. The bad news: the banana republicization of America is proceeding apace.
    Payrolls Pick Up by 110,000 but Not Enough to Stop Jobless Rate From Rising to 4.7 Percent

    The new job market snapshot released by the Labor Department on Friday showed that employers boosted payrolls by 110,000, the most in one month since last May. In an encouraging note, the economy actually added 89,000 jobs in August. That marked an improvement from the net loss of 4,000 that the government first estimated.

    To be sure, the ill effects of these problems are showing up at some companies. Construction firms cut 14,000 jobs in September, Factories slashed 18,000. Retailers got rid of just over 5,000 jobs. Financial services companies eliminated 14,000 slots.

    However, gains in education and health services, professional services, leisure and hospitality, and in government work more than offset those losses, leading to a net gain in new jobs in September.
    The magic of a depreciating currency is working. Foreign investors are buying UBRA stocks and other assets at fire sale prices. Tourism is up as visitors from Asia, Europe, Canada and all other countries whose currencies have appreciated against the bonar flock to visit the US for a cheap UBRA vacation, driving leisure and hospitality jobs within the service sector where most of the job growth occurred.

    Like any banana republic that depreciates its currency to give the economy a temporary boost, as the private sector–especially the goods producing sector–of the economy shrinks the UBRA government employs more of its citizens directly and through companies that contract to the government, especially as elections approach.



    The payroll numbers today extend a trend that started with post 2000 stock market crash re-inflation policies. Of 140 million jobs in the US economy, approximately 50 million, or 36%, are in the goods producing, construction, and manufacturing sectors. The rest are in finance, retail, services, or government. At 22 million, total government employment is now at parity with the goods producing sector.

    There is little reason to believe that the banana republicization of America will not continue. As long as it does, the UBRA may be able to avoid recession. We will look into other employment data before considering a delay in our forecast of a Q4 2007 recession.

    There is one fly in the tropical rum drink. Today's labor department report also showed: "Wages, meanwhile, rose solidly."

    Suppression of wage increases has been the centerpiece of monetary and government policy to manage inflation in the Production/Consumption Economy since 1980. Given the difficulty in acquiring legitimate measures of actual inflation rates in the US economy, there is no way of telling whether these wage increases translate into increased purchasing power. Given the rise of oil and other commodity prices, it seems doubtful. In fact, it looks like the UBRA is going full-bore banana republic, including wage and price inflation to maintain employment going into an election year.

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    Last edited by FRED; 10-08-07, 08:37 AM. Reason: Spelling and stuff.

  • #2
    Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

    from
    http://suddendebt.blogspot.com/

    The "eagerly awaited" BLS employment report came out exactly as expected at +110.000 jobs for the month, though the month of August was revised at +89.000 vs. -4.000. The revision had to do almost entirely with the number of teachers going back to work, which was originally estimated too low. However, the relevant data one needs to look at in order to gauge the economy is the number of jobs added by the private sector.

    Here is a chart comparing the jobs created during each of the first 9 months in 2005, 2006 and 2007. For the 9m year to date, 2007 is down 49% from 2005 and down 40% from 2006.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

      Sy Harding, 10/5/07 http://www.decisionpoint.com/TAC/HARDING.html
      Originally posted by Harding

      Also of interest, the monthly jobs numbers have the record for creating more triple-digit one-day moves by the market in one direction or the other than any other set of economic numbers. But just as often the initial knee-jerk reaction is reversed within a day or so. For instance, last month's report that 4,000 jobs had been lost sent the Dow tumbling 250 points that Friday. It was back to the upside Monday, and within four days had gained 311 points, the jobs numbers long forgotten as other economic reports became the focus.
      I suspect that Friday's better than expected jobs numbers will be forgotten just as quickly, especially with 3rd quarter earnings reports due to begin next week, following what has been a fairly ugly 'earnings warning period' the last few weeks.
      Even as the market was focused on the jobs numbers, more such warnings were released on Friday. Among them, Merrill Lynch warned it will take a humongous $5.5 billion dollar write-down against 3rd quarter earnings, due to losses related to sub-prime mortgages and "loans to highly indebted companies". Washington Mutual, one of the nation's largest banks, added its sad tale to the list of major banks warning of huge losses lately. It was reported that Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the operation of the two Bear Stearns hedge funds that collapsed this summer. Alcoa warned it will take $845 million in charges against earnings in its 3rd quarter earnings report. And that was just in one day.
      Perhaps investors should not have been quite as focused on the jobs numbers.
      Last edited by Jim Nickerson; 10-06-07, 11:31 AM.
      Jim 69 y/o

      "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

      Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

      Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

        Delving further into the employment data shows that the birth-death model adjustment was responsible for the turnaround in August employment. The birth-death model (BDM) added 120,000 ficticious jobs in August, and backing out the BDM adjustment would have led to a decline of 31,000 jobs for the month. The BDM adjustment for September payrolls was much smaller, coming in at 17,000 jobs.
        Figure 2
        Ed.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

          From Alan Abelson's Barron's column 10/8/07

          http://online.barrons.com/article/SB...gazine_columns

          Originally posted by Abelson
          EUPHORIA WAS STILL IN THE AIR on Friday when the Street responded to September's employment report. And there were modest grounds for celebration as payrolls expanded by 110,000, especially after the initial gloomy August tally of 4,000 fewer jobs (revised to a 89,000 gain; July enjoyed a revised boost as well).

          Unlike so many months this year, "phantom" additions, courtesy of the infamous birth/death concoction, devised supposedly to catch the effect on employment of new businesses and deceased ones, were trivial, puffing up the total by only 17,000. Average hourly earnings rose a heartening 0.4% (Mr. Bernanke may not view it as heartening, but that's what happens when the only people you talk to are hedge-fund managers and market strategists).

          On somewhat closer scrutiny, the numbers certainly didn't merit all that much of a hurrah. But, hey, if investors are willing to cheer huge write downs how can they do anything but cheer what our savvy friends at the Liscio Report, Philippa Dunne and Doug Henwood, dub a "fairly weak employment report"? And that's apart from the up tick in the unemployment rate to 4.7%.

          For one thing, as Doug and Philippa note, private employment was more or less stagnant. The big gainers were once again that dubious duo of health care and bars and restaurants, which hire freely and pay rather skimpily. The two chipped in more than half the overall rise. Government weighed in with 37,000 jobs (and was responsible for just about all the upward revision to the July and August totals).

          Manufacturing continued to shed jobs rather vigorously, with some 60,000 slots getting the ax the past two months alone. There were fewer retail hires and, unsurprisingly, pink slips were the order of the day in building materials and finance (think mortgages and write downs). Temps downsized by a pretty hefty 20,000, which Philippa and Doug see as a bad omen for job gains in the future.

          While not sharing the "extreme alarm" voiced by some professional kibitzers at August's initial negative tally, they did think that report "had a pre-recession look to it." And, they add, "We have similar feelings about this one."
          Jim 69 y/o

          "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

          Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

          Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

            The UBRA flag explained:

            Last edited by FRED; 10-06-07, 02:22 PM.
            Ed.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

              Originally posted by Fred View Post
              The UBRA flag explained:


              Around these parts the US folks I know have a slightly nicer way to say "Do as we say or we'll blow you up"...

              ..."Be nice to us Americans. Or we'll bring democracy to YOUR nation".

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                I'm going to say it: I'm thoroughly confused by all these jobs reports. It reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote: "There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and Russian statistics." (quote is ascribed to Mr. Churchill anyway.)

                The one thing I do agree with is what is in jim's post; when company's start reporting 3Q numbers, I expect them to be down and I expect that to drag on the stock market. I also agree that it's likely there was a recession in the 3Q; I have a feeling yoy earnings for the 4Q will be better though (although I will admit it might be a geographic bias, as in Los Angeles I'm just not seeing any sign of recession at all.)

                Incidentally I saw part of the "online debate" over on yahoo. It was interesting what John Edwards said - basically he was talking about how when he grew up, the "American Dream" was alive, being able to go from poverty to wealth, but that nowadays, he says he has seen, all around the country, a lot of people who are struggling, middle class and lower class, paying bills, and said "it just seems harder for people." As much as I'd never vote for Mr. Edwards in a million years, I have to give him credit for actually being in touch with this. All I could think of was "the rich get richer while everyone else has it tougher."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                  Originally posted by Fred View Post
                  Delving further into the employment data shows that the birth-death model adjustment was responsible for the turnaround in August employment. The birth-death model (BDM) added 120,000 ficticious jobs in August, and backing out the BDM adjustment would have led to a decline of 31,000 jobs for the month. The BDM adjustment for September payrolls was much smaller, coming in at 17,000 jobs...


                  NY Times Financial Correspondent Floyd Norris has some thoughts along the same lines...
                  Assuming Jobs


                  The employment report is being hailed as good news, proof that the economy is stronger than it appeared after last month’s bad report.

                  Well, maybe.

                  As reported, the last six months have seen an average job gain of 112,000 — the lowest such figure for any six-month period in three and a half years. But that is probably overstated.

                  The most interesting part of the report to me is that the government now thinks it overstated job growth in the year through March 2007 by 297,000 jobs. It will later restate those months...

                  Link to his blog:
                  http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/?ref=business


                  And the always astute MacroMaven, Stephanie Pomboy (Barron's Alan Abelson quotes her regularly) had this to say about the birth/death adjustment on Monday, Oct 1, ahead of the BLS release:

                  "...While one would be loathe to bet against the BLS's ability to manufacture jobs, the birth/death factor which has single-handedly accounted for 1.1 mln (or 70%) of the 1.5 mln jobs "created" over the past year is lower in September than any other month of the year after January. Last year the September birth/death contribution was 13k, versus an average monthly contribution of 93k jobs..."

                  However, she goes on to indicate potential for "another negative surprise".

                  It seems the overall consensus position out there is now 1) chronic suspicion of the BLS reported numbers, and 2) expectation that future revisions are most likely to be downward.

                  I must confess to the same prejudice...after all everyone studying this stuff, including iTulip, is a lot more knowlegable than me. But could this be shaping up to be another "crowded trade" :confused:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                    Originally posted by Fred View Post
                    Delving further into the employment data shows that the birth-death model adjustment was responsible for the turnaround in August employment. The birth-death model (BDM) added 120,000 ficticious jobs in August, and backing out the BDM adjustment would have led to a decline of 31,000 jobs for the month. The BDM adjustment for September payrolls was much smaller, coming in at 17,000 jobs.

                    I was under the (possibly erroneous) assumption that the BDM numbers were not seasonally adjusted (NSA) and the non-farm jobs numbers were seasonally adjusted (SA). Without knowing the seasonal adjustment factors, comparing the numbers is impossible, or at least prone to gross error?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                      Originally posted by hayfield View Post
                      I was under the (possibly erroneous) assumption that the BDM numbers were not seasonally adjusted (NSA) and the non-farm jobs numbers were seasonally adjusted (SA). Without knowing the seasonal adjustment factors, comparing the numbers is impossible, or at least prone to gross error?
                      Yes, they model the BDM NSA data on other NSA sources and apply the whole thing to SA data, but the differences in reported nonfarm NSA/SA numbers are very stable over time. It may be intellectually interesting while surely totally irrelevant that BDM and the SA do offset each other partly, very notably in January and July.

                      This is a surely a weird science... after digging around in the historic data from 1979 to 2007 i come to the conclusion that all the revisions are a random walk.

                      You can save a lot of energy arguing over all that payroll stuff and just read this from the BLS website where they say their BDM is working just fine - except when you would really need it:

                      "The most significant potential drawback to this or any model-based approach is that time series modeling assumes a predictable continuation of historical patterns and relationships and therefore is likely to have some difficulty producing reliable estimates at economic turning points or during periods when there are sudden changes in trend.
                      BLS will continue researching alternative model-based techniques for the net birth/death component; it is likely to remain as the most problematic part of the estimation process."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                        Originally posted by Fred View Post
                        Delving further into the employment data shows that the birth-death model adjustment was responsible for the turnaround in August employment. The birth-death model (BDM) added 120,000 ficticious jobs in August, and backing out the BDM adjustment would have led to a decline of 31,000 jobs for the month. The BDM adjustment for September payrolls was much smaller, coming in at 17,000 jobs.
                        Here's something from John Mauldin's eletter where he excerpts a bit of Lombard Street Research commentary. Note their view regarding US recession:

                        One of my favorite sources of information has come to be Charles Dumas and his associates at Lombard Street Research, based in London. (www.lombardstreetresearch.com)

                        He writes that the employment data suggest the US is on the brink of recession and may already imply a hard landing. In the paragraph below, he talks about the relationship between the two estimates of employment put out by the government (the payroll survey and the household survey) and their relationship to GDP.

                        "You need rose-coloured spectacles - to ignore the blue and the orange - or the black and the grey - in the chart below to get bullish. It is not in the recession zone - but it is not in the trend-growth zone either, let alone a strong economy. Depending on the period chosen, last 50 years or last 20 years, US average growth has been 3 1/4% or 3%, respectively. Payroll jobs growth has averaged more than half that, 2% or 1.6%. The sensitivity of payroll jobs growth to variance in GDP growth has been about two fifths: i.e., 1% faster or slower jobs growth for every 2 1/2% upside or downside of GDP growth from its average or trend. On this basis, recent payroll jobs growth at or below a 1% rate imply real GDP growth has been around 1%."



                        Charles goes on to show the relationship between GDP and the payroll employment numbers shows that the economy may be slowing even more. "The payroll number is consistent with GDP growth that is scarcely above zero. Our GDP growth estimate for Q3 and forecast for Q4 are in the 1 1/2% region. When the Christmas bonuses come in significantly down, and house prices are seen to be falling even for actual transactions - and even in East Hampton - we expect conditions then to worsen."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                          Originally posted by DemonD
                          I'm going to say it: I'm thoroughly confused by all these jobs reports. It reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote: "There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and Russian statistics." (quote is ascribed to Mr. Churchill anyway.)
                          The new version may have to replace 'Russian' with 'American' :rolleyes:

                          Originally posted by DemonD
                          Incidentally I saw part of the "online debate" over on yahoo. It was interesting what John Edwards said - basically he was talking about how when he grew up, the "American Dream" was alive, being able to go from poverty to wealth, but that nowadays, he says he has seen, all around the country, a lot of people who are struggling, middle class and lower class, paying bills, and said "it just seems harder for people." As much as I'd never vote for Mr. Edwards in a million years, I have to give him credit for actually being in touch with this. All I could think of was "the rich get richer while everyone else has it tougher."
                          Ditto for your sentiment.

                          I'd have a lot more confidence in the guy if
                          1) He wasn't a trial lawyer
                          2) He echoes all the worst parts of capitalism: nouveau riche behavior ($400 hair cuts, etc), using any and all levers to empower/enrich self, etc.

                          I don't believe it is necessary to run around in hair shirts to show your economic frugality, but it is highly cynical to say that you believe in the American Way and prosperity for all when your own livelihood was to raise insurance costs on the overall population in the interests of self enrichment.

                          I mean, suing the American Red Cross - that literal blood sucking scion of the establishment? Medical malpractice lawsuit history?

                          Gimme a break.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                            Now here's a splendid lesson on how to really run a bail out. None of that small-time tinkering with ARM rate freezes that Paulson's been touting. Who says that Middle East governments aren't responsive to their citizens... :rolleyes:

                            Kuwait caves on demands to bail citizens out of debt

                            by Joel Bowman on Wednesday, 05 December 2007
                            Kuwaiti ruler Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on Wednesday ordered the government to set up a 300-million Kuwaiti dinar ($1.9 billion) fund to bail thousands of citizens out of debt after protesters stormed the country's National Assembly.

                            A huge crowd of demonstrators had to be thrown out of the assembly on Tuesday following the government's decision to deny their demands for the state to pay off debts such as bank loans.

                            The meeting on debt relief eventually had to be postponed after one citizen hurled abuses at MP Ahmad Baqer, head of the financial and economic affairs committee, accusing him of opposing the aspirations of common citizens.


                            The ruler's proposed bail-out plan, expected to be passed into law by parliament on Wednesday, will absolve citizens of about 4 billion dinars of debts, reported state news agency Kuna.

                            Protesters had been calling for the government to buy citizen’s debt from lending institutions and redistribute payment obligations over a 25-year period with zero interest.

                            Ousted protesters then gathered at the gates of the National Assembly, shouting and demanding acceptance of the proposed debt relief bill which calls for the government to buy citizen’s debt from lending institutions, redistributing payment obligations over a 25-year period with zero interest.

                            “The cost of a house today is about 140,000 dinars, and the government only gives us 70,000 dinars,” one protester told the Kuwait Times daily.

                            “So we are forced to take loans to pay the rest of the amount. The government isn't serious in solving this problem.”

                            Central Bank governor Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah estimated the total national consumer debt at the end of October amounted to almost 4.6 billion dinars.

                            The amount comprises over 1.1 billion dinars in consumer loans, while the rest were installed credit facilities with adjustable interest rates that change along with the central bank policy.

                            The number of loans offered by lenders in the country totalled 451,000, according to Al-Sabah, 155,000 of which have adjustable interest rates.

                            Kuwait is the third-richest Arab country with a per capita gross domestic product of $30,188 last year, according to London-based Middle East Economic Digest (Meed). Qatar and the UAE are the richest.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: United Banana Republic of America: Government and Service Jobs for All!

                              Originally posted by GRG55 View Post
                              ...A huge crowd of demonstrators had to be thrown out of the assembly on Tuesday following the government's decision to deny their demands for the state to pay off debts such as bank loans.

                              ...


                              The ruler's proposed bail-out plan, expected to be passed into law by parliament on Wednesday, will absolve citizens of about 4 billion dinars of debts, reported state news agency Kuna. ...
                              Wow, I thought we Americans had a sense of entitlement! Storming the national assembly demanding the government absolve you of your personal debts?

                              (I know someone will come in with a comment about the various mortgage bailout proposals here and how that's no different, but... I dunno, it's not like Americans are marching in the streets demanding the government pay off their car loans, credit cards, payday loans, etc. across the board.)

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