Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Beware of Consumers Losing Confidence

 Financial FAQs


The Federal Reserve is about to raise the overnight interest rate another quarter-percent to 4.5 percent, and hence banks will pass on the increased rate to their borrowers.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is affecting the lowest income earners’ confidence in their jobs and hence future prospects, i.e., those who borrow most heavily against their incomes.

Will it also bring on a recession if they behave accordingly and stop shopping, since such consumers spend the largest share of their incomes?

Those in the lowest income brackets have been profiting the most from the pandemic-induced shortage of workers until now, but no more, which is reflected in the latest Conference Board’s Confidence Survey that declined slightly from 109 to 107.1.

“Consumer confidence declined in January, but it remains above the level seen last July, lowest in 2022,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board. “Consumer confidence fell the most for households earning less than $15,000 and for households aged under 35.”

Why? Average hourly wages of all employees are plunging after inflation despite the tight labor market, worsening the wage inequality of those workers that the Fed says it wants most to help.

This was reinforced by the Labor Department’s quarterly Employment Cost Index that measures overall labor costs incurred by employers. It rose less than expected, up 1 percent in Q4, so wage costs are still not keeping up with inflation.

Actual hourly wages and salaries declined 1.2 percent after inflation last year. Wage costs were down 3 percent in September Q3 after inflation, so workers’ incomes have improved since then as inflation has subsided.

But this doesn’t solve the problem of a hyperactive Fed still obsessed with higher wages as the inflation culprit, when it is mostly factors beyond their control causing the stubbornly high inflation rate.

As was discussed in a recent CNBC TV panel, the real culprit is an ongoing labor shortage. One million working-age workers have died, many baby boomers born 1946-64 have retired, and even working-age adults are retiring sooner.

Meanwhile, congress has not yet found a way to solve the immigration problem(s), since the U.S. economy has historically relied upon new immigrants to supply the worker shortfall.

And the Fed keeps looking in the rear view mirror of the 1970s when the inflation rate soared into double digits in an economy constrained by our dependence upon oil and OPEC. But we didn’t have international supply-chains then to cure the supply shortages more quickly, another factor affecting inflation, opined CNBC’s chief economist Steve Liesman in the same panel discussion.

These are all factors beyond the control of the Fed Governors, who only have two tools in their inflation-fighting tool box—interest rates and lots of jawboning to tame the inflation dragon.

So consumers’ confidence in the economy and their future expectations should be another factor the Fed Governors look at, if they want to generate that soft landing everyone is hoping for.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

No More Recession Worries?

 Popular Economics Weekly


The U.S. economy has done it again. The ‘advance’ estimate (1  of 3) of fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product growth of all things bought and sold domestically grew 2.9 percent, down slightly from 3.2 percent in Q3.

Consumer spending that accounts for some 70 percent of activity gave it the biggest boost, up 2.1 percent, while government spending rose 3.7 percent for the second quarter in a row.

Consumers and governments (state and federal) will continue spending in 2023 because there is so much money in circulation, as much as the Fed is attempting to shrink the money supply with its credit tightening moves.

The most important figure was inflation that rose at an annual 3.2 percent rate in Q4, falling from a 4.3 percent advance in the prior three-month period.

The so-called inflation deflator used in the Bureau of Economic Analysis that measures the aggregate prices for all goods and services transacted domestically is signaling that inflation will continue to decline. So why shouldn’t we be hopeful that 2023 might be a better year for Americans?

Enough with the numbers. The financial markets are rallying on the good inflation news and interest rates are tumbling.

“The increase in real GDP reflected increases in private inventory investment, consumer spending, federal government spending, state and local government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and exports,” said the BEA.

Manufacturing isn’t doing so well, but it makes up much less of GDP. New orders for manufactured goods jumped 5.6 percent in December because of a huge number of new contracts for Boeing passenger planes, but business investment was weak again in another sign of a slowing U.S. economy in the New Year.

What are the possibilities for growth in 2023? Two S&P surveys showed the U.S. economy got off to a weak start in 2023. Business conditions contracted again in January for the fourth month in a row, but showed signs of improvement,

The S&P Global “flash” U.S. services sector index rose to a three-month high of 46.6 from 44.7 in December, which employs most Americans. The S&P Global U.S. manufacturing sector index, meanwhile, edged up to 46.7 from a 31-month low of 46.2 at the end of last year.

In other words, U.S. consumers are keeping the economy chugging along. Both personal incomes and personal savings are keeping up with inflation, according to the BEA.

Current-dollar personal income increased $311.0 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $283.1 billion in the third quarter. The increase primarily reflected increases in compensation (led by private wages and salaries), government social benefits, and personal interest income.

Disposable personal income increased $297.0 billion, or 6.5 percent, in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $242.4 billion, or 5.4 percent, in the third quarter. Real disposable personal income increased 3.3 percent, compared with an increase of 1.0 percent.

And the main ingredients of consumer prices continue to decline—gas, food, and housing prices (or equivalent rents, in the case of housing)—which should make disposable incomes go further in household budgets.

This means consumers can maintain their spending ways as inflation continues to decline, particularly in travel and leisure activities, perhaps dodging a recession.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Real Earnings Still Shrinking

 Financial FAQs


The chorus is growing for the Fed to cease and desist from raising short-term interest rates any further that have raised the borrowing costs of ordinary folk who depend on credit cards and auto loans for most of their purchases.

Why? Average hourly wages of employees are plunging after inflation in spite of the tight labor market, worsening the wage inequality of those workers that the Fed says it wants most to help.

Real average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased -3.0 percent from May 2021 to May 2022. The change in real average hourly earnings combined with a decrease of 0.9 percent in the average workweek resulted in a --3.9-percent decrease in real average weekly earnings (after inflation is factored in) over this period.

This is while the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 8.5 percent for the year ending May 2022.

The reality wage-earners face is portrayed in the Bureau of Labor Relations average hourly earnings graph above. Average hourly earnings had soared to +7.6 percent in April 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, which is what panicked the Fed since they maintain wage costs make up a major part of inflation.

But the inflation problem is due as much to continuing supply shortages, that periodically empty store shelves attest to.

The Fed Governors should recognize that businesses are hiring to meet the need for workers caused in part by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, and Inflation Reduction Act, both designed to increase the supply of things needed in our growing economy.

So two arms of our government are in conflict, and it will be harder today to equalize the demand and supply equation than in past decades. The world was flooded with excess supply from Asian countries for decades that produced more than they could consume under the old free trade policies.

But protectionist policies are growing with post-pandemic economies wanting to protect their domestic producers with higher trade tariffs and lower import quotas. Now many of those cheap imports American consumers relied on will disappear, boosting consumer prices.

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who won his Nobel Price on the advantages of comparative trade policies—by countries concentrating on what they produce best—is even sounding the alarm that further rate increases could exacerbate wage inequality.

He cites Princeton economist David Autor’s recent study:

“For the first time in decades, wage inequality is falling. Real wages are rising among young, low-skilled workers and workers at the bottom of the wage distribution. While it is tempting to attribute the change to tighter labor markets, this may be an oversimplification.”

Given that the Fed Governors are saying they want to dampen hiring in the red-hot labor market, wage-earners will continue to take the hit.

And what are we to make of a predicted jump in fourth quarter GDP growth? We will know Thursday with the initial estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth is released.

The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow prediction of Q4 growth was just increased to 3.5 percent and had been holding steady as more positive economic data came in. This could mean much stronger growth in early 2023 as I said in earlier blogs.

US economic growth is leading the recovery from the COVID pandemic. With the Ukraine War, declining world trade due to supply bottlenecks and growing protectionist trade policies, is the Fed doing the right thing?

Harlan Green © 2023

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Friday, January 20, 2023

Housing Market Swoon--Part II

 The Mortgage Corner


Despite improved builder sentiments, privately‐owned housing starts were down in December at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,382,000. This is 1.4 percent below the revised November estimate of 1,401,000 and is 21.8 percent below the December 2021 rate of 1,768,000.

An estimated 1,553,300 housing units were started in 2022 (red line single unit, blue line 2+nnits in above graph). This is 3.0 percent below the 2021 figure of 1,601,000, so housing construction is also in a “swoon”.

And existing-home sales faded for the eleventh straight month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million. Existing-home sales totaled 5.03 million in 2022, down 17.8 percent from 2021, as last year’s rapidly escalating interest rate environment weighed on the residential real estate market.

“December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.15 percent as of Jan. 19, according to data released by Freddie Mac on Thursday. That’s down 18 basis points from the previous week — one basis point is equal to one hundredth of a percentage point.

Last week, the 30-year was at 6.33 percent Last year the 30-year was averaging at 3.56%. Rates are now at the lowest level since September 2022.

It is causing a surge in mortgage applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA reported its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 27.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  The Refinance Index increased 34 percent from the previous week and was 81 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 25 percent from one week earlier.

The modest drop in interest rates also helped to end a string of 12 straight monthly declines in builder confidence levels, although sentiment remains in bearish territory as builders continue to grapple with elevated construction costs, building material supply chain disruptions and challenging affordability conditions, per Bill McBride, author of the Calculated Risk blog.

Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, said “This week’s builder sentiment index from the NAHB reflected an improving outlook and increased buyer traffic, as mortgage rates have backed off from recent highs. The housing market is still in need of more starter and entry-level homes, especially when current demographic trends point to the potential for more younger households to enter homeownership in the near future. New construction of these units will help these buyers entering the housing market.”

Mortgage rates should continue to decline, aided by homebuilders who are now offering initial interest rates as slow a 4 percent to entice buyers. They can do this by buying down a fixed rate and adding its costs to the purchase price, or offering shorter term fixed rates or even an adjustable rate loan.

Will this end the housing “swoon”? There is lots of pent-up demand, and we still have a housing shortage.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Q4 Showing Stronger Growth

 Financial FAQs


What are we to make of a predicted jump in fourth quarter GDP growth? The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow prediction of Q4 growth was just increased to 3.5 percent and had been creeping upward as more positive economic data came in. This is a huge increase and could mean much stronger growth in early 2023 as well.

It should mitigate recession fears, even with just released data of declining retail sales and industrial production for December. And it is intensifying debate on whether the Federal Reserve has done enough to restrict credit with interest rate hikes and reduced security holdings discussed in my last blog piece.

Sales at U.S. retailers sank -1.1 percent in December, largely because of falling gasoline prices and fewer purchases of new cars. U.S. industrial production fell -0.7 percent in December, reported the Federal Reserve. It is the biggest monthly decline since September 2021.

This was mostly due to a accelerating decline in inflation that isn’t adjusted for in the retail data, rather than an actual decline in sales. U.S. wholesale prices sank 0.5 percent in December due to cheaper food and gasoline prices, according to the government’s Produce Price Index. It was the biggest decline since April 2020, when the U.S. economy shut down to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

These are sure signs of slowing growth that Fed Governors should heed but are yet reluctant to do so.

The more dovish Fed Governor Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin said in a recent speech that the Fed has raised interest rates to a level where “our foot [is] unequivocally on the brake” so “it makes sense to steer more deliberately as we work to bring inflation down.”

Whereas the Federal Reserve should not “stall” on raising its benchmark rates until they are above 5 percent, said a more hawkish St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Wednesday.

“I like the front-loading story,” Bullard said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that was streamed live. The Fed should move as rapidly as it can to get its policy rate over 5 percent and then it can react to the data, he said.

The conflicting signals from Fed Governors aren’t good for the financial markets, which is why only bonds are rallying at the moment, since mortgage rates have declined sharply, boosting mortgage applications and perhaps the housing market.

The Atlanta Fed ‘s GDPNow report was more optimistic for several reasons.

“The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2022 is 3.5 percent on January 19, unchanged from January 18 after rounding. After this morning’s housing starts report from the US Census Bureau, the nowcast of fourth-quarter real residential investment growth increased from -24.6 percent to -24.0 percent."

We shouldn’t take such predictions too literally, but the Atlanta Fed was close to right in predicting Q3 growth at 3.2 percent. And we still have full employment, despite the Fed’s threat to quash job growth with even higher interest rates.

Whatever the basis for the Fed Governor’s fears of inflation—whether it be that so-called inflation expectations are too high, or product costs (such as worker’s wages) rise too fast, as I’ve said earlier, the result of their credit-tightening measures is already causing a growth slowdown.

So, what to make of the fourth quarter jump in GDP growth predictions? Consumers are already spending less in part because of price discounting by retailers as consumers become more cautious because of the higher borrowing costs.

The prices of everything are beginning to decline as well, while 770,000 new workers entered the workforce in November per the unemployment report. Everyone that wants to work can work, an optimistic sign of a better future.

But the Federal Reserve Governors haven’t shown signs that they believe what they are seeing, and is now confirmed by the bond market—inflation has been steadily declining.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Monday, January 16, 2023

Fed's Inflation Target Too Low

 Financial FAQs


Why is the Federal Reserve enforcing a 2 percent inflation rate target? Such a monetary policy has meant Fed Governors have endangered economic growth by holding to a target rate that I believe is too low.

Whatever the basis for their fears of inflation—whether it be that so-called inflation expectations are too high, or product costs (such as worker’s wages) rise too fast, the result of their credit[-tightening measures has been that household incomes have been kept lower than inflation historically, increasing income and wealth inequality.

It has thus denied workers earning hourly wages as shown in the above FRED graph (gray bars inflation) the chance to ever catch up to historical inflation and better their financial well-being.

But shouldn’t the prime goal of a well-functioning Democracy be to decrease income inequality? Especially when there are so many American voters—especially high-school educated wage earners--questioning whether American-style democracy is serving their needs.

Former Chairman Ben Bernanke said in 2012 keeping a 2 percent cap enabled the Federal Reserve to better balance its twin mandates to maintain stable prices with maximum employment.

Why? It seems 2 percent is a common target throughout advanced economies, rather than based on empirical studies that verified it in fact maintained stable inflation and maximum employment, the Fed’s twin mandates.

Economists will tell you the 2 percent figure is based on their belief that the measured inflation rate overshoots actual inflation by something like 2 percent, which means they were really trying to get back to zero inflation! If so, that sounds like a great way to tempt actual deflation and a serious recession.


This is what happened in the Great Recession that lasted from 2007-09. The Fed had jacked up their fed funds overnight rate charged to banks to 5 percent. It was when Fed Chair Alan Greenspan killed the housing market by the Chinese drip torture method, raising the fed funds rate by one-quarter percent 16 consecutive times, thus busting the housing bubble and causing the Great Recession (after Greenspan suggested that an adjustable-rate mortgage might be desirable in such times).

Greenspan’s Federal Reserve busted the housing bubble and inflation for sure. CPI inflation dropped to 0 percent by 2015, and EU countries such as Denmark had to offer negative interest rates on home mortgages to revive their housing market. This meant that a mortgage lender had to literally subsidize the mortgage borrower to induce them to take out a mortgage loan.

Household incomes suffered even more during this time. Average hourly wages didn’t begin to increase until 2015 and inflation return to its longer-term 2 percent range in 2017 when new Fed Chair Ben Bernanke began the Fed’s policy of buying treasury and mortgage securities to inject liquidity back into the markets to stimulate growth. (He was nicknamed ‘helicopter Ben’ for the huge boost it gave to the money supply).

This is but one example of what happened when the Fed clamped down too hard on inflation. It has been the Fed’s bias since the 1970s that resulted in keeping household income from ever catching up to inflation.

Progressive labor economist Jared Bernstein opined on this matter in the Washington Post shortly after Bernanke announced the Fed’s decision.

“The fact is that the target is 2 percent because the target is 2 percent. Were the target 3 percent or 4 percent, you’d be reasonably asking me, why 3 or 4? To the extent that there’s an anti-inflation bias among economic elites (and thus an anti-full-employment bias), and I think that’s often the case, I’d reiterate arguments I made here…that the debates over full employment and Federal Reserve policy are generally dominated by the interests of the minority who worry more about inflation and asset values than those who worry about jobs and paychecks.”

It has in fact become a tool to suppress the incomes of average households and worsen income inequality; just as hourly wages are accelerating. But will that change their minds?

Harlan Green © 2023

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

No More Inflation Worries?

 Popular Economics Weekly


The Fed seems to have done it, raising interest rates enough to break the back of the highest inflation rate in 40 years. But will it be enough to stop the Fed Governors from continuing to raise their interest rates and cause a recession?

Let us hope so, as financial markets are rallying on the news and interest rates are tumbling. The Fed looks at the rate of inflation that is a different animal from day-to-day prices seen by consumers and producers, which are tumbling faster

I hope the Fed has done enough, as the main ingredients of consumer prices—gas, food, and housing prices (or equivalent rents, in the case of housing)—have been declinng of late. And this is reflected in longer-term interest rates, but not in the Fed’s short-term rates that determine credit card and auto loans.

The U.S. consumer-price index (CPI) reflected in the above FRED graph fell 0.1 percent in December and posted the first decline since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, pointing to a further slowdown inflation after it hit a 40-year peak last summer.

The annual rate of inflation fell for the sixth month in a row to 6.5 percent from 7.1 percent. Its 40-year peak was 9.1 percent last summer. The so-called core rate of inflation, which omits food and energy, rose 0.3 percent. The core rate over the past 12 months dropped to 5.7 percent from 6 percent to mark the lowest level in a year.

This is what pandemics and wars do—create shortages of such essential items, hence the panicked Fed Governors who were fearing a repeat of the 1970s inflation surge when OPEC oil embargos and a war between Eqypt and Israel broke out.

The so-called Middle East war was quickly over, but because we were still dependent on fossil fuels and hadn’t yet developed domestic production with the infamous fracking boom, we needed OPEC supplies. So it took longer for inflation to subside; almost 10 years during the 1980s, in fact.

The developed countries are bringing down energy prices with alternative fuel supplies and a price cap on Russian oil.

Housing prices (and equivalent rents) will subside as interest rates continue falling. And economists are beginning to notice the decline in inflation.

One economist quoted by MarketWatch said, “The 3-month annualized core CPI is down to 3.1% and at least another 1% lower if using new leases versus existing leases that have a six to twelve month lag. We continue to expect the Fed to only raise rates two more times as CPI continues to moderate,” said Bryce Doty, senior portfolio manager at Sit Investment Associates, in emailed comments.

Food prices may be the most difficult component of the CPI to bring down with the current shortages of such essentials as wheat and corn.

But help might be on the way come Spring, since California supplies a large part of US food supplies. The prolonged drought has caused California state crop production to drop some 50 percent.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California’s Central Valley supplies eight percent of U.S. agricultural output and produces 1/4 of the Nation’s food, including 40 percent of the Nation’s fruits, nuts and other table foods.

But the Pineapple Express, named because an almost endless stream of atmospheric rivers originating near Hawaii have hit California this winter, may have broken the latest drought. So there is some hope for lower food prices as well.

One homeowner who was recently interviewed by a local Santa Barbara TV station said he wasn’t surprised by the latest floods affecting California because they occurred after almost every drought period.

Maybe most US consumers know this as well, and will be able to weather the latest inflation cycle without too much damage to their pocketbooks, if the Fed Governors understand such natural phenomena as well and don’t cause a recession. Inflation seems to occur in cycles due to events the Fed has little power to control, as do droughts and floods.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Friday, January 6, 2023

Job Market Defies the Fed

 Popular Economics Weekly


All eyes are now on the Federal Reserve and Chairman Powell. Companies are daring Powell and his Governors to crimp their profits by threatening dire consequences (i.e., a recession) if they don’t slow down hiring at the current pace.

But corporations are not listening as the demand for workers far exceeds the aupply, so that 223,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs were created in December, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is still above the so-called replacement rate of jobs created to accommodate new job seekers.

And the unemployment rate dropped back to 3.5 percent, signaling that the 10.5 million job vacancies just reported in November was no fluke. But wages aren’t rising as fast, probably because most of the hiring is now in the lower paying service industries, with 145,000 jobs added just in Education/Health and Leisure/Hospitality.

The 28,000 added jobs in construction is probably because construction is beginning that is funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The Whitehouse says it includes a five-year allocation of $550 billion in federal investments in America’s infrastructure to upgrade highways and major roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems. Additional investments cover expansions and improvements to the nation’s broadband access, public transportation systems, and energy grid infrastructure.

Will US economic growth fall off a cliff in January? Maybe not, as I said in my last blog. The Atlanta Federal Reserves’ GDPNow estimate has just raised their estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth to 3.7 percent and it was right on predicting higher Q3 growth.

And at least one Fed Governor is sounding more dovish on inflatiion, reports MarketWatch. James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, said on Thursday, the odds of so-called soft landing have gone up in part because of the sturdy labor market.

The Fed may find some solace in the declining job numbers. Hiring in November and October was much higher after being revised. The economy added 256,000 jobs in November and 263,000 in October.

So we need a few more dovish Governors on the Federal Reserve Board to agree with Bullard, and maybe persuade Chairman Powell to soften his inflation rhetoric.

Harlan Green © 2023

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Is Job Market Still Too Hot?

 Financial FAQs


No matter how hard it tries, the Fed hasn’t been able to slow hiring in the hopes that it will bring down inflation—because corporations have record profits and are only beginning to lay off workers.

But watch out this year as the $trillions in New Deal spending of bipartisan bills just passed is funding projects that need good jobs, such as the Infrastructure and Inflation Reduction Acts.

So what is the Fed to do, discourage the long overdue modernization of the American economy?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS report showed 10.5 million job openings and was “little changed” from past months.The above graph shows job openings (black line), hires (dark blue), Layoff, Discharges and other (red column), and Quits (light blue column) from the JOLTS.

“The number of job openings was little changed at 10.5 million on the last business day of November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the month, the number of hires and total separations changed little at 6.1 million and 5.9 million, respectively. Within separations, quits (4.2 million) and layoffs and discharges (1.4 million) changed little.”

That means approximately 400,000 jobs were created in November—the difference between hires and total separations.


And here’s a graph once again of corporate profits that fell to their lows in the 1980s before soaring to new heights.

So this Friday’s unemployment report will be closely watched by Fed officials, with few giving any indication that they want to slow down their rate increases.

Minutes released Wednesday from the Fed’s Dec. 13-14 meeting showed the central bank’s policymaking arm recognizes that inflation has begun to cool somewhat but its participants still view price growth as “unacceptably high”.

Wow, this is while the overall picture is of a slowing economy, with the ISM’s manufacturing survey showing contraction. U.S. manufacturing activity slipped to 48.4 in December from 49 in the prior month, according to the Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday. This is the lowest level since May 2020.

And job layoffs have increased sharply before the holidays. The worker-friendly Guardian was not slow to react.

“After corporations complained of labor shortages through 2021 and 2022, several companies have shed workers in mass layoffs as 2022 comes to a close. Job cuts in the US have risen this year, with a 6% increase for the first 11 months of 2022 in comparison to last year.”

Consumers are already cutting back spending as retail inventories pile up and more stores begin to discount. That will become more serious now that the holidays are over. It would be nice if there was more consistency in federal policies!

So my answer is the job market is not too hot. Many more jobs will be needed to aid our economic recovery as well as modernize those regions that have fallen behind at a time when we need all Americans to participate in the recovery.


Harlan Green © 2022

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