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Showing posts from August, 2009

B(L)S

This weekend we would like to take a look back at the economic contraction that the talking heads would have you believe is already over. Of course there is no way that it true. The extreme deficit spending we referred to in Federal Funhouse could result in a short euphoria before the creditors pull the plug - just like maxing out your credit cards before declaring bankruptcy. But the real economy is in horrible shape and nowhere is this more apparent than in the labor market.

Today's critical data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Their unemployment data released Friday was loudly trumpeted as good news when all it really said is we're bleeding to death a little slower. Others have commented on and analyzed this data so we'd like to take a longer view of things - examining the size of the pool of blood on the ground as it were.

We're going to use the BLS monthly data for the last two years. Note that at the end of 2007, the potential labor pool (civilian …

Command and Control?

Much is made of the rebound in China's 2nd quarter GDP and the drivers certainly merit a closer look. We are going to focus on just one key metric today - credit. In an effort to reach escape velocity from the global collapse, China has ordered its banks to make lots of loans and the banks have complied. So just how much lending has occurred and what is the scale of the likely impact. Let's look at the numbers, shall we? Various sources have reported the lending numbers and this article from the Globe and Mail is typical:



Chinese banks lent 1.5 trillion yuan ($220-billion U.S.) in June, the central bank reported on its Web site Wednesday. That exceeded forecasts and was up from May's 665 billion yuan ($97-billion) in lending and April's 590 billion yuan ($86-billion).Keep in mind that the entire Chinese economy was approximately 30 trillion yuan in 2008. Another way to look at things is that China's economic output is roughly 2.5 trillion yuan per month and in June

The Federal Funhouse

Washington DC has now become the linchpin of lies regarding the US economy. When one looks at the numbers, it is easy to see why this must be so. The Federal budget deficit is now running at somewhere between 14% and 15% of GDP. Because the administration has postponed the budget update past the mandatory deadline, we do not have any official figures so we must estimate based on other data but Americans should be quite used to that by now.

The latest Monthly Treasury Statement through June 30 gives us a lot of very useful data. Tax receipts are falling rapidly; for the fiscal year to date, taxes are down from $1,934 billion to $1,589 billion - a drop of 17.8%. The trend has been for the monthly numbers to get worse as the FY has gone on but if that applies to the full year then revenues will be $2,073 billion. The current budget estimate is just under $4,000 billion but will likely be higher as unemployment and related expense rise with a tanking economy. This leaves the US government …