The terrible December jobs report

January 10, 2014

The jobs report is out today, and it’s weak. The economy added 74,000 jobs in December — the lowest growth the economy has seen since January 2011 and far below the expectation of 196,000. Because of people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% from 7.0% in November. Here’s Reuters’ chart of U.S. non-farm payrolls over the last year:

The improving state of US trade

January 7, 2014

The US is beginning to become less reliant on imports, as the trade deficit fell in November to the lowest level since October 2009.  The trade deficit is the difference between how much a country imports and how much it exports.

The US economy’s latest mixed bag of data

January 6, 2014

New economic data out today was a bit of mixed bag: Reuters reports that growth in the US services sector slowed in December, while factory activity picked up in November.

from Counterparties:

Why Christmas should always be on a weekend

January 3, 2014

Tyler Cowen thinks Christmas should always fall on a Wednesday, as it did in 2013. “The goal,” he writes tongue-in-cheek, “is to minimize non-convexities”. For Cowen personally, that means maximizing mail delivery, library access, paid vacation, traffic-free roads to optimize shopping, and trips to far-flung ethnic restaurants.

The good, bad, and persistently ugly news about the job market

January 2, 2014

Reuters reports that the number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell for a second straight week. Data released by the Labor Department Thursday showed that for the week ending on December 28, 339,000 Americans filed for state unemployment insurance. That’s a drop of 2,000 from the previous week’s report.

The surprise uptick in 3rd quarter GDP revisions

December 20, 2013

U.S. GDP grew at its fastest pace in nearly two years in the third quarter of 2013 — at a 4.1% annual rate rather than the 3.6% previously reported — according to revised data released by the government Friday. Particularly, consumer spending was much higher than previously reported.

Worrisome — but possibly noisy — jobless claims data

December 19, 2013

The Department of Labor reported a surprise increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits today. Jobless claims hit a nine-month high, but a DOL analyst told Reuters that unemployment data can be noisy at this time of year. Here’s Reuters’s graphic with all the pertinent details:

The death penalty and executions in the U.S.

December 18, 2013

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Arkansas executed Johnny Dale Black, 48, who was convicted of murder in a 1998 killing. Black was executed by lethal injection.

US inflation: flat, historically low, and still below the Fed’s target

December 17, 2013

The US Labor Department reported Tuesday that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation, was flat in November compared to the previous month.

Syrian government forces bomb Aleppo

December 16, 2013

Reuters has the latest details on the bombing raid in Aleppo, Syria conducted by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces over the weekend: