By John M. Berry
John M. Berry, who has covered the economy for four decades for the Washington Post and other publications, is a guest columnist.
Data just out shows the pace of joblessness picked up in September, snapping what had been a steady improvement from “really terrible” to “at least it’s not as terrible as the prior month.” The drop in non-farm payrolls was even worse than Goldman Sach’s downwardly revised -250K forecast, coming in at -263K. But also take a look at July: revised to -304 from -276k. August was revised to -201K from -216K.
So German Chancellor Angela Merkel has got her way. After months of pressure from the German government, General Motors has finally caved in and agreed to sell a majority stake in Opel to Canadian car parts maker Magna and Russian backer Sberbank.
Interpreting the employment numbers has become an exercise in scavenging for good news. After a year of beefy job losses, any sign that the pace of deterioration is slowing is certainly welcome. Were it not for the Obama stimulus package, we would probably be continuing to see job declines of closer to half a million a month.
Sure they’re still cutting jobs, by nonfarm payrolls are shrinking at slower pace, down only 247K in July, and the unemployment rate actually fell to 9.4% from 9.5%. With other data showing a tentative turning point in housing and manufacturing moving toward expansion, this is starting to feel like the real deal.
I’m just getting a chance to look at the Treasury’s quarterly refunding announcement now, and no surprise here. It’s a record amount at $75 billion that will start to hit the market next week. All the details are here. Its decision to increase TIPs issuance also comes as no surprise after the Wall Street Journal flagged it here.