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The Economy: On the Other Side of the Abyss

The good news is that a vaccine is definitely coming.  But getting to herd immunity is going to take more than a quarter or two, especially given the resistance of about half of the American population to getting the vaccine, at least early on. The economy is likely to remain soft until well after the pandemic passes.  There are many reasons for this including a decade of poor policymaking and …Read More

The Economy: Through the Rear-View Mirror

The upbeat October employment report is likely showing the labor market through the rear-view mirror. The weekly state employment numbers, too, as reported in the mainstream business media, only tell half the story.  The entire story includes an additional 9+ million people on Cares Act supplements; a program that is growing as state eligibility is exhausted, but a program that expires as the year ends. High frequency data also confirm …Read More

The Real Recession Is Just Starting

At month’s end, we are going to see the BLS announce a 30%+ bounce in real GDP (the Atlanta Fed’s forecast is now above 35%). Much of this is already priced into the equity market, so a positive or negative reaction will only occur if the reported number is significantly above or below the consensus view. In addition, this is old news, as Q3 will have been in the rear-view mirror for …Read More

Weak Employment Data, Savings Out of Bullets

Personal income fell -2.7% in August.  Still, consumer spending rose 1.0% M/M.  What Gives? The economy is still very much an employment story.  While the official U3 unemployment rate fell to 7.9% from 8.4%, the underlying data was, simply put, “ugly!” “Excess” Savings Last week, I discussed the theory that the “excess” savings from the stimulus packages (one-time stimulus checks and the now expired supplemental $600/week in unemployment benefits) would …Read More

The “Excess Savings” Hypothesis vs. Economic Deceleration

There is some speculation that because only a little more than half of the buildup in savings from the stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits was spent through July, Q4 economic activity will continue to show recovery as the “savings” continues to be spent.  Call this the “Excess Savings” Hypothesis.   Unfortunately, the incoming data makes this appear to be little more than “hope.” The weekly state and PUA unemployment data …Read More

Recessionary Impacts: ‘Down The Road’

When JPMorganChase reported earnings in mid-July, CEO Jamie Dimon quipped: “This is not a normal recession… the recessionary part of this you’re going to see down the road.” This observation is spot on. Dimon was observing that, while government had shut down much of the “nonessential” (i.e., 80%) economy, they also transferred $2.1 trillion to private households which more than made up for the $720+ billion of lost wages. We have seen many …Read More