James Pethokoukis

The end of the U.S. consumer. Maybe not

June 5, 2009

Interesting note from Bruce Kasman of JPMorgan on the supposed retrenchment of the US consumer as Americans save, save, save (bold is mine):

Bair vs. Pandit: Be cool people!

June 5, 2009

A sneak preview of my upcoming column on the WSJ report that the FDIC’s Sheila Bair is trying to push out Citi’s Vikram Pandit:

Does the jobs report mean a V-shaped recovery?

June 5, 2009

I will give the last word (for today) on the jobs number to Wesbury & Stein:

The jobs report strongly supports our call that the economy bottomed in May and is now in the early stages of a V-shaped recovery. Businesses are shedding jobs at a much slower pace than earlier this year and we would not be surprised to see payrolls start to increase by the end of the summer. The speed of the turnaround cannot be ignored. …¬† After the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September, monetary velocity plummeted, with both businesses and consumers pulling back from any activity they deemed unnecessary. Now, restaurants and bars are adding payrolls again, a sign that consumer behavior is returning to normal. While some analysts may focus on the rise in the unemployment rate to 9.4%, much of the increase was due to an increase in the labor force, which has risen by more than 1 million workers in the past two months. Without this increase the jobless rate would be a much lower 8.7%.

Dan Gross and Ezra Klein vs. Reality

June 5, 2009

Media supporters of President Obama, such as blogger-columnists Ezra Klein and my pal Dan Gross, are eager to dismiss the rise in interest rates as being a negative verdict on the financial soundness of White House economic policies. This is understandable, especially since many of my colleagues seem eager to propel the narrative that the nation’s economic center has moved down I-95 from New York to Washington.

An improving job market

June 5, 2009

I wanted to elaborate a bit on the job market, with my first embedded graph of the blog! It shows the diminishing rate of job losses, though the unemployment rate will continue to rise, especially as more people try and return to the workforce.

Unemployment hits 9.4 percent

June 5, 2009

First the numbers:

1) U.S. employers cut 345,000 jobs last month, the fewest since September.

2) Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast non-farm payrolls dropping 520,000 in May.

Obama moves to adopt McCain healthcare idea

June 5, 2009

Howard Gleckman over at TaxVox blogs that Obama seems to be moving toward capping the $246 billion employer-sponsored insurance tax exlcusion, an idea he ripped McCain for during the presidential campaign:

What’s in a name?

June 5, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment  Act is quite poorly named. First of all, the U.S. economy is already recovering even though maybe 5 percent of the $800 billion package has been spent. Plus, much of the spending will have nothing to do with reinvestment, as the Associated Press notes: