The worrying (or not) rise of margin debt

March 3, 2014

The FT’s Michael Mackenzie reports that  the amount of money borrowed on margin to buy stocks on the NYSE hit a new, nominal high of $451 billion. That’s up 20% over last year, Mackenzie reports.

Manufacturing and consumer spending edge up

March 3, 2014

Two reports out today suggest economic growth has been moderate in the US since the beginning of the year. Consumer spending rose more than expected in January, according to the Commerce Department, likely because of high demand for heating.

Is China’s red-hot housing market finally beginning to cool down?

February 24, 2014

In China’s housing market — just like in its overall economy — any signs of slower rates of growth are notable. Thanks in part to action by China’s central bank to curb lending, home price growth slowed for the first time since 2012, Reuters reports:

What we know about income inequaliy: America’s disappearing ‘middle-skill’ jobs and falling wages

February 12, 2014

There are a lot of things that “explain” inequality. Technology, finance, societal, and cultural changes have all played their part. In this series, Counterparties takes a look at the various things that correlate with rising income inequality in order to ascertain how we got to this economy and where we might go from here. For story tips/comments/complaints email us

The end of the boom in emerging markets reserves

February 10, 2014

One bit of collateral damage from the recent emerging markets mess:  the area’s strong foreign currency reserve growth is slowing, or even dropping off, Reuters reports.

Is the US labor market doing better than we think?

February 4, 2014

What if the labor market America is actually much closer to a full recovery than we think? That’s the gist of a new post by Samuel Kapon and Joseph Tracy at the New York Federal Reserve. The authors examine the labor market’s employment-to-population ratio, which plummeted during the financial crisis and hasn’t recovered since, even as the economy has picked up steam.

US sees moderate manufacturing growth in January

February 3, 2014

US manufacturing grew last month, although not as much as it had in the previous month. The US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, fell to 53.7 in January from an 11-month high of 55.0 in December. Anything above 50 indicates expansion.

Visualizing America’s food waste

January 31, 2014

Americans waste almost 40% of the food produced here, mostly after it gets into the hands of consumers. A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows how much food is lost in various parts of the food distribution chain:

The US housing market’s disappointing end to 2013

January 27, 2014

Who wants to buy a new house when the weather is terrible? According to new data released last week, new home sales were down by 7% in December — partially due to bad weather. However, resales of existing homes were up by 1%, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total sales for 2013 were the strongest they have been since 2006, according to Reuters. Here’s an overall view of the housing market: 

The state of America’s unions

January 24, 2014

The percentage of American workers in unions was constant at 11.3% from 2012 to 2013, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. In 1983, the first year the BLS started collecting this data,  that number was 20.1%.