Shane's Feed
Feb 4, 2014
via Data Dive

Is the US labor market doing better than we think?

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.

Their general theory:  when corrected for the demographics of our aging workforce, the labor market looks a bit healthier than we previously thought. Here’s their chart:

Feb 3, 2014
via Data Dive

US sees moderate manufacturing growth in January

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.

Here’s what PMI has looked like over the last few years:

Reuters has more details on the report:

Output fell to 53.5, a four-month low, from 57.5. Some firms attributed the slower pace of growth to the extremely cold weather in large swaths of the country.

Jan 31, 2014
via Counterparties

Married, with correlation

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One of the more interesting debates to come out of the Raj Chetty study on mobility published last week is the question of whether we need “marriage promotion”. Does society need to encourage the formation of two-parent households for the good of the economy?

Jan 31, 2014
via Data Dive

Visualizing America’s food waste

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:

Dana Gunders, a scientist at the NRDC who wrote the report, comes up with two basic reasons why Americans waste so much food (the equivalent of $165 billion each year): 

Jan 28, 2014
via Counterparties

Unity and inequality

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The most common complaint about the annual State of the Union speech, Jeff Shesol writes, ”is that it is a laundry list, which is an insult to laundry lists”. President Obama will deliver his sixth tonight.

Jan 27, 2014
via Data Dive

The US housing market’s disappointing end to 2013

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 dip in new home sales was likely affected by frigid temperatures in the Northeast, according to Reuters. Here’s what just new home sales looks like: 

Jan 24, 2014
via Counterparties

The currency vigilantes

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Welcome to what’s possibly “phase one” of the emerging markets rout, Reuters’ Natsuko Waki reports. For no apparent reason, currencies in Argentina, Russia, and Turkey hit record lows on Friday in what Bloomberg called the worst emerging market currency sell-off in five years. This had all sorts of side effects, including sending Spain’s IBEX down about 3.5%.

Jan 24, 2014
via Data Dive

Argentina leads the emerging markets ‘bloodbath’

The Argentine peso had a terrible day on Thursday, falling 11% against the dollar. It was the worst day since the country’s 2002 financial crisis. In fact, there’s a broader rout in emerging markets going on.

This week, the Argentine central bank “gave up its battle against the peso’s decline” as foreign reserves sank lower, according to Reuters. Here’s what those reserves look like: 

Jan 22, 2014
via Counterparties

The value store

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This week Marc Andreessen, whose VC firm has invested almost $50 million in Bitcoin-related ventures, writes in the NYT that we should take Bitcoin seriously. Google, for one, is. Andreessen says there’s a gulf between the conventional wisdom on Bitcoin and what “technologists” believe it to be. Bitcoin, Andreessen writes, is a breakthrough in computer science and cryptography that allows truly secure internet payments:

Jan 17, 2014
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L’affaire demande

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“L’offre crée même la demande”.

With those five words François Hollande set off his second scandal in as many weeks. A French president having an affair is one thing, but for a European Socialist leader to state that “supply creates demand” is another entirely, particularly in the econoblogosphere.