By Stephanie Rogan
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
I was unceremoniously kicked out of my last job in finance early in 2004. It was a career turning point for me after 24 years as an equity analyst at eight firms – brokers and investment managers – in both the United States and Europe. I took shelter in financial journalism. Much has changed in the money business since then. But reading about the behaviour that has led to a litany of huge fines, I fear that too much remained the same, at least until very recently.
Perhaps it’s time for a re-think of “Death of a Salesman.” After two decades of talk about the “new economy” and the “disruption” of certain professions by the Internet, you might think that sales as we know it is as stale and outdated as Willy Loman -- a function that has been “disintermediated” by the digital revolution.
The “konditorei” in Sankt Florian, Austria offers fine pastries and wonderful hot chocolate. It was the perfect location to interrupt a holiday for a bit of work. Over a slice of strudel, I spent a few minutes last week contemplating my colleague Andy Mukherjee’s well argued article about the danger robots pose for the modern economy. Looking around the bakery-cafe, I saw why Andy should be proven wrong.
So, that’s it. Seven years and $4.4 trillion later, the U.S. Federal Reserve will exit quantitative easing, despite what a few Fedsters have said about the possibility of QE4. Let’s remember that third sequels rarely, if ever, are satisfying, they tend to meet with shrugs from audiences, and don’t often include the original cast of characters. "Alien Resurrection" ring a bell? That’s what QE4 would be. But I digress.
Brazil's unemployment rate has been a mystery for months: a strike in the country's statistics agency, ironically enough, disrupted its main job market survey. The numbers will finally come out in a few hours, less than two weeks before a tight presidential election, and will help voters understand just how bad the recently-confirmed recession has been.
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The economy added 142,000 jobs in August. It was a pretty big disappointment, considering the consensus estimate was around 225,000. The unemployment rate ticked down to 6.1% from 6.2% — bad news, since the decline comes from people dropping out of the labor force, rather than people getting jobs. Nick Bunker and Heather Boushey sum it up: “The U.S. economy is steadily if slowly expanding but not enough to spark sustained growth in jobs and wages and a commensurate decline in unemployment.”
The unemployment report occupies a unique position as a bit of a lagging indicator (especially when it comes to wage growth) and yet the most important economic figure that markets look at on a monthly basis. Various indicators point to the likelihood of another strong report come Friday that should accelerate recent trends in markets – more gains in the stock market (with a helping of the “this means the Fed is going to cut us off from the punch bowl blah-blah” stuff) and more strength in the dollar, regardless of whatever incipient gains the euro can muster after the European Central Bank meeting.
No longer bringing in a government salary, Eric Cantor has decided to try his hand at investment banking. The former House majority leader will become a vice chairman and managing director at the investment banking boutique Moelis. His compensation will be around $3.4 million through the end of next year (plus “the reasonable cost of a New York City apartment”).