MacroScope

Weather to make February jobs report a crap-shoot too

Blaming bad economic news on winter is getting as tiresome as tales of snarled traffic, flight cancellations and trips out with the snow shovel in freezing winds.

The February jobs report will be no exception to this U.S. season of climactic howling.

Most of the 97 forecasters who contribute to the Reuters Poll on non-farm payrolls have stuck to their forecasts, resisting the temptation to make last-minute changes based on even more disappointing data this week.

“Weather makes the report a crap-shoot,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics, who held to his original forecast.

A re-poll of top contributors in the last 24 hours found about a dozen people chopping their view, mostly based on a plunge in the employment gauge of the Institute for Supply Management’s services survey that was steeper than an Olympic ski jump slope.

Firing up Brazil’s economy

A hot, dry spell in southeastern Brazil has pushed up energy prices, stretched government finances and raised the threat of water rationing in its largest city, Sao Paulo, just months before it hosts one of the world’s largest sport events, the soccer World Cup.

It looks like the last thing Brazil needed as it scrambles to woo investors and avoid a credit downgrade.

But if the scattered rains that started to pour down over the past few days bring in continued relief through March, the heat could actually prove to be a much-needed boost for Brazil’s economy, research firm LCA found.

Another false start for the U.S. economy?

Since the global financial crisis ripped the floor out from underneath developed world economies, the world’s biggest one has had several false starts nailing the floorboards back in.

Stock markets have moved in almost one direction since their trough in March 2009 – up – but economic growth and job creation have bounced around.

There are some disturbing signs another false start is afoot, but it has become almost taboo to even raise the issue that the U.S. economy, for all of its progress in repairing bank and household balance sheets, may still be at risk.

An even more British excuse

Britons have a reputation for endless talk about the weather, and the UK’s Office for National Statistics is no different.

We’ve already noted how the ONS cited the effect of the royal wedding and surrounding bank holidays as one reason why the economy only managed growth of 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter between March and June.

While that’s taken up most of the talk, the ONS also pointed to the “record warm weather in April” as another “special event” that dented economic growth.

UK goes crisis camping

If the Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forest, near England’s south coast is anything to go by, the recession really is altering the holidaymaking habits of the British public.

On the often rain-sodden site three Porches, a couple of Jaguars and numerous BMWs and Mercedes were spotted among the more typical, Skodas and Ford Mondeos usually associated with roughing it under canvas.

Unlike for the same period last year, the campsite was solidly booked out, despite no sign of the barbecue summer the weathermen promised.

Rip-off Britain or the cost of cheaper sterling?

Inflation is plunging faster than analysts are forecasting just about everywhere in the developed world. Except for Britain. Those accustomed to high prices and inflation-busting increases in tube and rail fares at the start of every year were probably not surprised.

A tiny decrease in January inflation to 3.0 percent from 3.1 percent, left plenty of City analysts scratching their heads and talking of a blip in the data that is sure to be followed by significant drops in months ahead.

The puny move is all the more puzzling given the fact that forecasters have been suprised by the speed inflation has been falling elsewhere. In the euro zone, inflation has already tumbled to just 1.1 percent.