January 2015

Do Unemployment Benefits Cause Unemployment?

The continued meme from the political right suggests that monthly disability benefits encourages people to have disabilities; Social Security checks are creating a generation of old lazy people; food stamps inspire poor people to quit their job (or not look for one) so they can eat steak and lobster for free; welfare checks seduces young unmarried women to lay on the couch all day long eating Bonbons while having multiple babies --- just as life insurance causes people to die prematurely; auto insurance recklessly leads to car accidents; home insurance rewards hard-working people to burn do

The Fed's Not So Excellent Adventure

Quantitive easing, qualitative easing, yield curves, repos, interbank loans, interest rates, reserves, sterilization, discount windows, open market purchases, monetization, and of course mesmerization to calm the speculators are just some of the monetary gears and wheels that to the untrained eye appears to be a Rube Goldberg machine that no mere mortal can comprehend. To others it is not a machine, but a dance where bond and stock markets undulate to the monetary music emanating from the central bankers.

The Year of the Beast

The Congressional Budget Office just released a new report, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025 Report (January 26, 2015). In an article at the New York Times titled "Budget Forecast Sees End to Sharp Deficit Declines", they referenced the report, and then quotes Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyoming), the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee: “The past will catch up to us no matter how fast we run from it."

December New Home Sales Surge, But Annual Sales Up Only 1.2%

The December New Residential Single Family Home Sales increased 11.6% to 481,000 in annualized sales.  This change is well within the statistical error margin of ±16.5%, but the highest level in six years.   New home sales are notorious to be revised so while this surge seems strong, the figure to pay attention to is the annual sales.

Durable Goods Plummets for December 2014

The Durable Goods, advance report shows new orders declined by -3.4% for December 2014.  This month the decline was caused by volatile aircraft and parts.  Core capital goods also dropped by -0.6%.  For the last three of four months durable goods new orders as a whole have declined.  Without transportation new orders, which includes aircraft, the durable goods decline would have been -0.8%.

The Myth of Middle-Class Economics

Middle-class economics is not what any of the political parties would have you believe it might be in the form of tax breaks and any other incentive you can think of. Middle-class economics is one thing only: protectionism. Why? Because, no tax break will restore your lost job at the abandoned steel mill. No college degree will find you a job in an industry that has long been shipped overseas. Nor will a stimulus package make your wage internationally competitive. Only sky high tariffs can save the middle class, because factories are the economy.