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Author: Timothy Gill

The End of the China Price?

The End of the China Price?

For the better part of the last decade, the notion of the “China price” has been central to understanding trends in global trade flows and the accumulation of a vast Chinese trade surplus. The “China price” flowed from the dramatically lower cost of producing labor intensive goods in the Middle Kingdom relative to the developed world thanks to the presumed limitless supply of heretofore farm-bound subsistence labor making its way to burgeoning coastal manufacturing centers Read more [...]
Economic Growth Surges in Q4, but Beware…

Economic Growth Surges in Q4, but Beware…

The Commerce Department reported that real GDP expanded at a 5.7% annualized rate in the final three months of last year, its second straight quarterly expansion. A strong increase in exports and a further moderation in inventory liquidation were the largest contributors to the increase. This is good news to be sure, but as the Washington Post cautions in this piece, it “may veil weakness in the economy.” (I’d put it a bit more strongly than “may.”)   In any case, Read more [...]
Bad News on Jobs

Bad News on Jobs

Even as numerous indicators suggest that the economy is emerging from recession, one of the most important of all continues to worsen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the unemployment rate rose to 10.2% in October (subscription required), its highest since April 1983. Statistics like this don’t augur well for optimistic predictions of a snappy V-shaped recovery. Hoping for help from Uncle Sam? Steve Pearlstein, in this WaPo piece, gently suggests that it will be difficult Read more [...]
Green Shoot Sighting

Green Shoot Sighting

The July employment report was released by BLS this morning and came as a pleasant surprise. The unemployment rate actually declined - by a tenth of a percentage point to 9.4% - for the first time since April 2008. Let's not break out the champagne, though. Payrolls were still nearly 250,000 lower in July than in June. It was not that long ago that a loss of 250,000 jobs in a single month would have been considered a calamity. Moreover, if the jobless recoveries of recent history are any guide, Read more [...]
Happy 100th!

Happy 100th!

Wednesday marked the release of the 100th edition of NEMA's Electroindustry Business Confidence Index report. The EBCI tracks the evolution of business conditions facing the electroindustry in North America and three other world regions, as seen through the eyes of senior executives of NEMA member companies. Perhaps the most interesting component is the report's measure of expected conditions a half-year down the road. Naturally, this future conditions index has seen highs and lows over Read more [...]
The Giant Sucking Sound

The Giant Sucking Sound

With sentiment growing that the banking system may survive after all, one may be tempted to look ahead to a day when ostensibly private entities will once again be politely asked to bear their losses without recourse to the public dole. Not so fast. According to today’s Washington Post, Fannie Mae posted a gigantic first quarter loss, blowing a $19 billion hole in their balance sheet that was immediately filled with an infusion from the Treasury. Oh well. At least the administration’s Read more [...]
A Little Calm, Please!

A Little Calm, Please!

Retail sales tumbled in December, plunging by 2.7% from a month earlier. Naturally, the stock market cratered on January 14, the date of the data release, with the Dow Jones index sliding nearly 250 points and the S&P 500 off 29 points, or 3.4% Two thoughts come to mind. First, while the December sales figures were indeed ugly, one must remember that they are reported in nominal, not real (price adjusted), dollars. That means the 20%-plus dive in gasoline prices from November to December, Read more [...]
Two Peas in a Pod?

Two Peas in a Pod?

Writing in the WSJ yesterday (subscription req'd), Karl Rove takes both major party presidential nominees to task for their frequent aversion to the notion that a free society should allow market mechanisms to appropriately allocate its scarce resources. A particular target of the candidates is the behavior of certain energy firms.  (In a grand rhetorical flourish, Rove even goes as far as to invoke the name of Joseph Shumpeter, coiner of the term "creative destruction," an obscure Read more [...]
A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal

This weekend marks the start of the summer driving season (although one could be forgiven for not noticing, given recent weather conditions). Crude oil prices spiked to more than $135 per barrel on Wednesday and regular grade gasoline is touching $4 per gallon in many parts of the country.  One commodity not in scarce supply, though, is analysis of the reasons for the dramatic price rises seen in recent weeks - see here and here (subscription req'd) - and their ramifications not only for Read more [...]