A huge hole in Trump’s promise to bring back US manufacturing jobs | Business Insider

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa:

US manufacturing employment has been declining since a 1970 peak, a drop that accelerated after China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation but, tellingly, not after the US entered the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada in 1994.

….SoftWear’s business, along with so many others across the US, should remind Trump of a factor he has yet to acknowledge: the role of automation in reducing the number of manufacturing jobs available…..

That fits a nationwide pattern of manufacturing output hitting record highs in recent years, even as manufacturing employment continues its steady decline.

….Mark Muro, a senior fellow and the director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, wrote in MIT’s Technology Review. “No one should be under the illusion that millions of manufacturing jobs are coming back to America.”

Source: There is a huge hole in Trump’s promise to bring back US manufacturing jobs | Business Insider

Australia’s economic growth is slowing.

Employment and Participation rates are falling.

Australia Employment & Participation Rates

Wage rate growth is slowing.

Australia Wage Rates

Slowing wage rate growth and inflation confirm that the economy is faltering.

Australia Underlying Inflation

The RBA, with one eye on the housing bubble, has indicated its reluctance to cut rates further. Increased infrastructure spending by Federal and State governments seems the only viable alternative.

With the motor industry winding down and apartment construction headed for a cliff, this is becoming increasingly urgent.

Robust Job Growth, Solid Labor Market | WSJ

From WSJ:

The pace of job creation remained robust in February, with payrolls rising by a seasonally adjusted 235,000 new jobs, the Labor Department said.

Evidence of continued health in the U.S. labor market likely cleared the way for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates next week. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.7%, as both workforce participation and employment rose….

Source: Robust Job Growth, Higher Wages Show Solid Labor Market – WSJ

Rising debt—not a crisis, but a serious problem | Brookings

Testimony by Alice M. Rivlin, Senior Fellow – Economic Studies, Center for Health Policy, before the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress on September 8, 2016:

…..our national debt is high in relation to the size of our economy and will likely rise faster than the economy can grow over the next several decades if budget policies are not changed. Debt held by public is about 74 percent of GDP and likely to rise to about 87 percent in ten years and to keep rising after that.

This rising debt burden is a particularly hard problem for our political system to handle because it is not a crisis. Nothing terrible will happen if we take no action this year or next. Investors here and around the world will continue to lend us all the money we need at low interest rates with touching confidence that they are buying the safest securities money can buy. Rather, the prospect of a rising debt burden is a serious problem that demands sensible management beginning now and continuing for the foreseeable future.

What makes reducing the debt burden so challenging is that we need to tackle two aspects of the debt burden at the same time. We need policies that help grow the GDP faster and slow the growth of debt simultaneously. To grow faster we need a substantial sustained increase in public and private investment aimed at accelerating the growth of productivity and incomes in ways that benefit average workers and provide opportunities for those stuck in low wage jobs. At the same time we need to adjust our tax and entitlement programs to reverse the growth in the ratio of debt to GDP. Winning broad public understanding and support of basic elements of this agenda will require the leadership of the both parties to work together, which would be difficult even in a less polarized atmosphere. The big uncertainty is whether our deeply broken political system is still up to the challenge.

…..There are three necessary elements of a long-run debt reduction plan:

  • Putting the Social Security program on sustainable track for the long run with some combination higher revenues and reductions in benefits for higher earners.
  • Gradually adjusting Medicare and Medicaid so that federal health spending is not rising faster than the economy is growing….
  • Adjusting our complex, inefficient tax system so that we raise more revenue in a more progressive and growth-friendly way and encourage the shift from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources…..

Source: Rising debt—not a crisis, but a serious problem to be managed | Brookings Institution

Does Government Spending Create Jobs?

By William Dupor, Assistant Vice President and Economist

The most recent U.S. expansion, however lackluster, entered its eighth year in June.1 In anticipation of the possibility (or perhaps inevitability) of another recession, observers have remarked on how and whether countercyclical fiscal policy should be used to combat an economic downturn….

Gauging Effects through Military Spending
Research Analyst Rodrigo Guerrero and I took up the issue of the efficacy of government spending at increasing employment. We looked specifically at over 120 years of U.S. military spending, which provides a kind of “natural experiment” for our analysis.

Looking at government spending more generally suffers from the problem that the spending may be correlated with economic activity: The government may spend more during a recession (as with ARRA) or more during an expansion (when tax revenues are high). This might bias the results, which economists call “an endogeneity bias.”

Military spending, on the other hand, is likely to be determined primarily by international geopolitical factors rather than the nation’s business cycle.

….We used a similar methodology and found that military spending shocks had a small effect on civilian employment. Following a policy change that began when the unemployment rate was high, if government spending increased by 1 percent of GDP, then total employment increased by between 0 percent and 0.15 percent. Following a policy change that began when the unemployment rate was low, the effect on employment was even smaller.

In the event of another recession, policymakers have a number of stabilization tools at their disposal, including quantitative easing, negative interest rates and tax relief. The research discussed above suggests that one other device, namely countercyclical government spending, may not be very effective, even when the economy is slack.

I think the authors of this research come to the wrong conclusion. Instead they should have concluded that military spending is not very effective in creating jobs.

Military spending provides no lasting benefit to the economy in terms of tax revenue or saleable assets, leaving future taxpayers with public debt and no means of repayment. Other than an austerity budget which would risk another recession.

Whereas infrastructure projects can be selected on their ability to generate market-related returns on investment, providing revenue to service the public debt incurred…..and saleable assets that can be used to repay debt.

But there are two caveats.

First, project selection must not be a political decision. Else projects likely to win votes will be selected ahead of those that generate decent financial returns.

Second, the private sector must have skin in the game to ensure that #1 is adhered to. Also to reduce cost blowouts. Private companies are not immune to blowouts but government projects are in a league of their own.

The added benefit of infrastructure spending is the free lunch government gets from reduced unemployment benefits. Money they would have spent anyway is now put to a more productive use.

Source: Does Government Spending Create Jobs?

The Internet of Things: it’s arrived and it’s eyeing your job

From Malcolm Maiden:

The Internet of Things is “billions of connected devices from vending machines to mining equipment, aircraft engines and their componentry, agricultural sensors and cars,” [Andy] Penn said in his first keynote speech as Telstra CEO in July last year.

It both offers opportunities and poses threats. Penn mentioned in his first speech for example that a Committee for Economic Development of Australia report on Australia’s future workforce had estimated that almost 40 per cent of the jobs that exist in Australia had a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years.

“Machine learning is the biggest driver of this because of its implications for the service industry,” he said. “In future, many traditional services type activities will be done by computers more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately.

“New jobs will be created by the Internet of Things, too of course. We just don’t know yet exactly where they will be…..”

Source: The Internet of Things: it’s arrived and it’s eyeing your job

Banana Republic Budget |MacroBusiness

David Llewellyn-Smith sums up Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison’s Budget with one chart:

According to Treasury, Australia’s terms of trade are going to settle at a gentlemanly plateau far higher than they have even been in history outside of the China boom.

Source: Welcome to the Banana Republic Budget – MacroBusiness

Carl Icahn warns of ‘day of reckoning’

Reuters:

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn ….. said he was “still very cautious” on the US stock market and there would be a “day of reckoning” unless there was some sort of fiscal stimulus.

…..Icahn, who owned 45.8 million Apple shares at the end of last year, said China’s economic slowdown and worries about how China could become more prohibitive in doing business triggered his decision to exit his position entirely.

Icahn is right about fiscal stimulus. Easy money policies implemented by central banks around the globe are an effective tool to stem the flow when financial markets are hemorrhaging but they are not a long-term solution. The only effective means of halting the long-term, downward spiral is fiscal stimulus.

The biggest obstacle to fiscal stimulus is resistance to increasing public debt. There is good reason for this as wasteful deficit spending in the past has left taxpayers with a massive debt burden and nothing to show for it. Governments ran deficits to cover a shortfall in tax revenue or an increase in expenditure without thought as to how the debt would be repaid.

But if debt is used to fund investment in productive infrastructure, revenue from the asset can be used to pay off the debt over time, or the asset can be sold to repay the loan. There is an immediate double benefit to government, with increased wages — directly from infrastructure projects and indirectly from suppliers of goods and services — boosting tax revenues while also saving on unemployment benefits. The long-term benefit is retaining and developing skills in the economy that would otherwise be lost through long-term unemployment.

Politicians have a poor track record, however, when it comes to selecting productive infrastructure projects. Instead favoring projects that will garner the most votes. This can be improved by setting up a non-partisan planning and selection process with a long time horizon. Also partnership with the private sector would eliminate projects with weak or unpredictable revenue streams.

Partnerships with the private sector also help to leverage funds raised through public debt, limit cost overruns and contain on-going running costs. But both sides must have skin in the game.

To be effective, infrastructure programs must address the long-term needs of the economy and should be carried out on a broad, even global, scale to re-invigorate the faltering global economy.

Source: Carl Icahn sells entire Apple stake on China worries, warns Wall Street of ‘day of reckoning’

Risk of a global down-turn remains high

Stock markets in Asia and Europe have clearly tipped into a primary down-trend but the US remains tentative. The weight of the market is on the sell side and the risk of a global down-turn remains high.

Dow Jones Global Index found support at 270 and is rallying to test resistance at the former primary support levels of 290/300. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum peaks below zero flag a strong primary down-trend. Respect of 300 is likely and reversal below 290 warn of another decline. Breach of 270 would confirm.

Dow Jones Global Index

* Target calculation: 290 – ( 320 – 290 ) = 260

Willem Buiter of Citigroup warns that further monetary easing faces “strongly diminishing returns”, while “hurdles for a major fiscal stimulus remain high”. To me, major infrastructure spending is the only way to avoid prolonged stagnation but resistance to further increases in public debt is high. The only answer is to focus on productive infrastructure assets that generate returns above the cost of servicing debt, improving the overall debt position rather than aggravating it.

North America

Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered above primary support at 16000 and is headed for a test of 17000. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term buying pressure. Respect of 17000 is likely and would warn of continuation of the primary down-trend. Reversal below 16000 would confirm the signal, offering a target of 14000*.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

* Target calculation: 16000 – ( 18000 – 16000 ) = 14000

The most bearish sign on the Dow chart is the lower peak, at 18000, in late 2015. Only recovery above this level would indicate that long-term selling pressure has eased.

The S&P 500 is similarly testing resistance at 1950. Breakout is quite possible but only a higher peak (above 2100) would indicate that selling pressure has eased. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, below zero, continues to warn of a primary down-trend. Reversal below 1870 would confirm the primary down-trend, offering a target of 1700*.

S&P 500 Index

* Target calculation: 1900 – ( 2100 – 1900 ) = 1700

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is testing ‘support’ at 20. Respect is likely and would confirm that market risk remains elevated.

S&P 500 VIX

Canada’s TSX 60 respected the descending trendline after breaking resistance at 750. Reversal below 750 would warn of another test of 680/700. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum is so far indicative of a bear rally rather than reversal of the primary down-trend.

TSX 60 Index

* Target calculation: 700 – ( 750 – 700 ) = 650

Europe

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 is rallying to test resistance at the former primary support level of 3000. The large 13-week Twiggs Momentum peak below zero confirms a strong primary down-trend. Respect of resistance is not that important, but another lower peak, followed by reversal below 3000, would signal a decline to 2400*.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50

* Target calculation: 2700 – ( 3000 – 2700 ) = 2400

Germany’s DAX recovered above resistance at 9300/9500. Expect a test of 10000 but buying pressure on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow appears secondary and reversal below 9300 would signal another decline, with a (long-term) target of 7500*.

DAX

* Target calculation: 9500 – ( 11500 – 9500 ) = 7500

The Footsie recovered above 6000, and the declining trendline, but the primary trend is down. Buying pressure on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow appears secondary and reversal below 6000 would signal another decline, with a target of 5500*. The long-term target remains 5000*.

FTSE 100

* Target calculation: 6000 – ( 6500 – 6000 ) = 5500

Asia

The Shanghai Composite Index rallied off support at 2700 but respected resistance at 3000. Reversal below support would offer a target of 2400*. The primary trend is clearly down and likely to remain so for some time.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target calculation: 3000 – ( 3600 – 3000 ) = 2400

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is in a clear primary down-trend. Expect a test of 17000/18000 but respect of 18000 would warn of another test of 15000. Decline of 13-week Twiggs Money Flow below zero would flag more selling pressure.

Nikkei 225 Index

* Target calculation: 17000 – ( 20000 – 17000 ) = 14000

India’s Sensex primary down-trend is accelerating, with failed swings to the upper trend channel. Breach of 23000 would offer a short-term target of 22000*. Reversal of 13-week Twiggs Money Flow below zero would warn of more selling pressure.

SENSEX

* Target calculation: 23000 – ( 24000 – 23000 ) = 22000

Australia

The ASX 200 rally from 4700 respected resistance at 5000. Reversal below 4900 warns of another decline. Breach of support at 4700 would confirm. Divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term (secondary) buying pressure and reversal below zero would flag another decline. The primary trend is down and breach of 4700 would offer a target of 4400*. The long-term target remains 4000*.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 4700 – ( 5000 – 4700 ) = 4400; 5000 – ( 6000 – 5000 ) = 4000

Banks are taking a hammering, with the Banks index (XBAK) in a clear down-trend. Retracement to test resistance at 78 is weak and another strong decline likely. Declining 13-week Twiggs Money Flow, below zero, reflects long-term selling pressure.

ASX 200 Financials

Gold testing $1100/ounce

Solid job numbers have boosted the prospects for an interest rate hike before the end of the year. Employment is growing steadily, having exceeded its 2008 high by more than 4.2 million new jobs.

Employment and Unemployment

Unemployment is falling as job growth holds above 2.0 percent a year.

Interest Rates and the Dollar

Long-term interest rates are rising, with 10-year Treasury yields headed for a test of resistance at 2.50 percent after breaking through 2.25 percent. Recovery of 13-week Twiggs Momentum above zero indicates an up-trend. Breakout above 2.50 percent would confirm.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar strengthened in response to rising yields, the Dollar Index breaking resistance at 98. Respect of zero by 13-week Twiggs Momentum indicates long-term buying pressure. Breakout above 100 would confirm another advance, with a target of 107*.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 100 + ( 100 – 93 ) = 107

Gold

Gold fell as the Dollar strengthened, testing primary support at $1100/ounce. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum peaks below zero indicate a strong (primary) down-trend. Follow-through below $1080 would signal another decline, with a target of $1000/ounce*.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1100 – ( 1200 – 1100 ) = 1000

Inflation outlook

March consumer price index (CPI) is due for release on Friday. Producer prices, released Tuesday, ticked upwards after a sharp December/January fall on the back of plunging crude oil prices.

PPI Finished Goods

Average hourly earnings growth (non-supervisory manufacturing jobs), however, retreated below 1.0%.

Average Hourly Earnings

CPI is likely to remain heavily affected by oil prices, but core CPI (excluding food and energy) is expected to remain close to the Fed’s target of 2.0%.

CPI and Core CPI

Jobs growth slows (slightly)

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. employers sharply slowed their hiring in March…….. Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 126,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said Friday. That was the smallest gain since December 2013.

If we take a step back and look at US non-farm payrolls over the last 12 months, growth remains surprisingly strong. The economy added 2.9 million jobs in the year ending 31st March; down from 3.2 at the end of February, but still a robust recovery.

US non-farm payrolls

We haven’t seen this level of job growth since the Dotcom era.

US non-farm payrolls

When good news is bad news

“The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February, a strong gain that beat expectations by a mile. Unemployment fell to 5.5%.” You would expect stocks to surge on the strong employment numbers. Instead the S&P 500 fell 1.4% on Friday. Penetration of support at 2080 warns of a correction.

S&P 500 Index

I can only ascribe this to fear of a rate rise. The stronger the employment data, the closer the prospect of the Fed raising interest rates. But Janet Yellen is likely to err on the side of caution, only raising rates when she is sure that the economy is on a sound footing and inflationary pressures are rising. That is far from the case at present, despite the good job numbers.

There is plenty of short-term money in the market, however, that seems to think otherwise.

Here’s How to Achieve Full Employment

Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel provides the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce with a shopping list of measures he believes are necessary to achieve full employment. Some are right on the mark while others seem to have missed the basic rules of Supply and Demand taught in Econ 101. My comments are in bold.

The goals that economic policy must focus on are, thus, creating jobs and reaching robust full employment, generating broad-based wage growth, and improving the quality of jobs.

Jobs

Policies that help to achieve full employment are the following:

1. The Federal Reserve Board needs to target a full employment with wage growth matching productivity.

The most important economic policy decisions being made about job growth in the next few years are those of the Federal Reserve Board as it determines the scale and pace at which it raises interest rates. Let’s be clear that the decision to raise interest rates is a decision to slow the economy and weaken job and wage growth. There are many false concerns about accelerating wage growth and exploding inflation based on the mistaken sense that we are at or near full employment. Policymakers should not seek to slow the economy until wage growth is comfortably running at the 3.5 to 4.0 percent rate, the wage growth consistent with a 2 percent inflation target (since trend productivity is 1.5 to 2.0 percent, wage growth 2 percent faster than this yields rising unit labor costs, and therefore inflation, of 2 percent). The key danger is slowing the economy too soon rather than too late.

Fed monetary policy should not target one sector of the economy (i.e. wages) but the whole economy (i.e. nominal GDP).

2. Targeted employment programs

Even at 4 percent unemployment, there will be many communities that will still be suffering substantial unemployment, especially low-wage workers and many black and Hispanic workers. To obtain full employment for all, we will need to undertake policies that can direct jobs to areas of high unemployment……

Government programs don’t create jobs, they merely redistribute income from the taxed to the subsidised.

3. Public investment and infrastructure

There is widespread agreement that we face a substantial shortfall of public investment in transportation, broadband, R&D, and education. Undertaking a sustained (for at least a decade) program of public investment can create jobs and raise our productivity and growth…..

Agree. But we must invest in productive assets that generate income that can be used to repay the debt. Else we are left with a pile of debt and no means to repay it.

Policies that do not help us reach full employment include:

1. Corporate tax reform

There are many false claims that corporate tax reform is needed to make us competitive and bring us growth. First off, the evidence is that the corporate tax rates U.S. firms actually pay (their “effective rates”) are not higher than those of other advanced countries. Second, the tax reform that is being discussed is “revenue neutral,” necessarily meaning that tax rates on average are actually not being reduced; for every firm or sector that will see a lower tax rate, another will see a higher tax rate. It is hard to see how such tax reform sparks growth.

Zero-sum thinking. If we want to increase employment, we need to increase investment. Tax rates and allowances should encourage domestic investment rather than offshore expansion.

2. Cutting taxes

There will surely be many efforts in this Congress to cut corporate taxes and reduce taxes on capital income (e.g., capital gains, dividends) and individual marginal tax rates, especially on those with the highest incomes. It’s easy to see how those strategies will not work….

Same as above. We need to encourage investment by private corporations.

3. Raising interest rates

There are those worried about inflation who are calling on the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates soon and steadily thereafter. Their fears are, in my analysis, unfounded. But we should be clear that those seeking higher interest rates are asking our monetary policymakers to slow economic growth and job creation and reflect a far-too-pessimistic assumption of how far we can lower unemployment, seemingly aiming for unemployment at current levels or between 5.0 and 5.5 percent….

Agreed. Raising interest rates too soon is as dangerous as raising too late.

Wage growth

It is a welcome development that policymakers and presidential candidates in both parties have now acknowledged that stagnant wages are a critical economic challenge…… Over the 40 years since 1973, there has been productivity growth of 74 percent, yet the compensation (wages and benefits) of a typical worker grew far less, just 9 percent (again, mostly in the latter 1990s)……

Wage stagnation is conventionally described as being about globalization and technological change, explanations offered in the spirit of saying it is caused by trends we neither can nor want to restrain. In fact, technological change has had very little to do with wage stagnation. Such an explanation is grounded in the notion that workers have insufficient skills so employers are paying them less, while those with higher wages and skills (say, college graduates) are highly demanded so that employers are bidding up their wages…….

Misses the point. Technology has enabled employers in manufacturing, finance and service industries to cut the number of employees to a fraction of their former size.

Globalization has, in fact, served to suppress wage growth for non-college-educated workers (roughly two-thirds of the workforce). However, such trends as import competition from low-wage countries did not naturally develop; they were pushed by trade agreements and the tolerance of misaligned and manipulated exchange rates that undercut U.S. producers.

This small paragraph hits on the key reason for wage stagnation in the US. Workers are not only competing in a global labor market, but against countries who have manipulated their exchange rate to gain a competitive advantage.

There are two sets of policies that have greatly contributed to wage stagnation that receive far too little attention. One set is aggregate factors, which include factors that lead to excessive unemployment and others that have driven the financialization of the economy and excessive executive pay growth (which fueled the doubling of the top 1 percent’s wage and income growth). The other set of factors are the business practices, eroded labor standards, and weakened labor market institutions that have suppressed wage growth. I will examine these in turn.

Aggregate factors

1. Excessive unemployment

Unemployment has remained substantially above full employment for much of the last 40 years, especially relative to the post-war period before then. Since high unemployment depresses wages more for low-wage than middle-wage workers and more for middle-wage than high-wage workers, these slack conditions generate wage inequality. ……

The excessive unemployment in recent decades reflects a monetary policy overly concerned about inflation relative to unemployment and hostile to any signs of wage growth……

2. Unleashing the top 1 percent: finance and executive pay

The major forces behind the extraordinary income growth and the doubling of the top 1 percent’s income share since 1979 were the expansion of the finance sector (and escalating pay in that sector) and the remarkable growth of executive pay …… restraining the growth of such income will not adversely affect the size of our economy. Moreover, the failure to restrain these incomes leaves less income available to the vast majority……

Zero-sum thinking.

Labor standards, labor market institutions, and business practices

There are a variety of policies within the direct purview of this committee that can greatly help to lift wage growth:
1. Raising the minimum wage

The main reason wages at the lowest levels lag those at the middle has been the erosion of the value of the minimum wage, a policy undertaken in the 1980s that has never fully been reversed. The inflation-adjusted minimum wage is now about 25 percent below its 1968 level……

Will reduce demand for domestic labor and increase demand for offshoring jobs.

2. Updating overtime rules

The share of salaried workers eligible for overtime has fallen from 65 percent in 1975 to just 11 percent today……

This will continue for as long as the manufacturing sector is white-anted by offshoring jobs.

3. Strengthening rights to collective bargaining

The single largest factor suppressing wage growth for middle-wage workers over the last few decades has been the erosion of collective bargaining (which can explain one-third of the rise of wage inequality among men, and one-fifth among women)……

How will this improve Supply and Demand?

4. Regularizing undocumented workers

Regularizing undocumented workers will not only lift their wages but will also lift wages of those working in the same fields of work…..

How will this improve Supply and Demand?

5. Ending forced arbitration

One way for employees to challenge discriminatory or unfair personnel practices and wages is to go to court or a government agency that oversees such discrimination. However, a majority of large firms force their workers to give up their access to court and government agency remedies and agree to settle such disputes over wages and discrimination only in arbitration systems set up and overseen by the employers themselves…..

How will this improve Supply and Demand?

6. Modernizing labor standards: sick leave, paid family leave

We have not only seen the erosion of protections in the labor standards set up in the New Deal, we have also seen the United States fail to adopt new labor standards that respond to emerging needs……

No issue with this. But how will it improve Supply and Demand?

7. Closing race and gender inequities

Generating broader-based wage growth must also include efforts to close race and gender inequities that have been ever present in our labor markets…….

No issue with this. But how will it improve Supply and Demand?

8. Fair contracting
These new contracting rules can help reduce wage theft, obtain greater racial and gender equity and generally support wage growth……

No issue with this. But how will it improve Supply and Demand?

9. Tackling misclassification, wage theft, prevailing wages

There are a variety of other policies that can support wage growth. Too many workers are deemed independent contractors by their employers when they are really employees……

No issue with this. But how will it improve Supply and Demand?

Policies that will not facilitate broad-based wage growth

1. Tax cuts: individual or corporate

The failure of wages to grow cannot be cured through tax cuts. Such policies are sometimes offered as propelling long-run job gains and economic growth (though they are not aimed at securing a stronger recovery from a recession, as the conservatives who offer tax cuts do not believe in counter-cyclical fiscal policy). These policies are not effective tools to promote growth, but even if they did create growth, it is clear that growth by itself will not lift wages of the typical worker…….

Zero-sum thinking. Compare economic growth in high-tax countries to growth in low tax countries and you will find this a highly effective policy tool.

2. Increasing college or community college completion

……advancing education completion is not an effective overall policy to generate higher wages……. What is needed are policies that lift wages of high school graduates, community college graduates, and college graduates, not simply a policy that changes the number of workers in each category.

Better available skills-base leads to increased competitiveness in global labor market and more investment opportunities in the domestic market.

3. Deregulation

There is no solid basis for believing that deregulation will lead to greater productivity growth or that doing so will lead to wage growth. Deregulation of finance certainly was a major factor in the financial crisis and relaxing Dodd–Frank rules will only make our economy more susceptible to crisis.

What we need is (simple) well-regulated markets rather than (complex) over-regulation.

4. Policies to promote long-term growth

Policies that can substantially help reduce unemployment in the next two years are welcomed and can serve to raise wage growth. Policies aimed at raising longer-term growth prospects may be beneficial but will not help wages soon or necessarily lead to wage growth in future years. This can be seen in the decoupling of wage growth from productivity over the last 40 years. Simply increasing investments and productivity will not necessarily improve the wages of a typical worker. What is missing are mechanisms that relink productivity and wage growth. Without such policies, an agenda of “growth” is playing “pretend” when it comes to wages.

Long-term investment is the only way forward. To dismiss this in favor of short-term band-aid solutions is nuts!

My proposal is a lot simpler, consisting of only five steps:

  1. Invest in productive infrastructure.
  2. A simplified tax regime with low rates and few deductions apart from incentives to increase domestic investment.
  3. Restrict capital inflows through trade agreements and maintain a fair exchange rate.
  4. Fed monetary policy supportive in the short-term but with long-term target of neutral debt growth — in line with GDP (nominal).
  5. Move education up the priority list for government spending. Improve the education standards and training of teachers — they are the lifeblood of the system — rather than increasing numbers.

A Growth Pact for America by Glenn Hubbard | Project Syndicate

Glenn Hubbard, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, and Dean of Columbia Business School proposes:

….two policies are particularly promising for such a “Pact for America”: federal infrastructure spending and corporate-tax reform. Enactment of these reforms would generate a win for each side – and for both.

But such a bipartisan consensus requires removing both the left and the right’s ideological blinders, at least temporarily. On the left, a preoccupation with Keynesian stimulus reflects a misunderstanding of both the availability of measures shovel-ready projects and their desirability whether they will meaningfully change the expectations of households and businesses. Indeed, to counteract the mindset forged in the recent financial crisis, spending measures will need to be longer-lasting if they are to raise expectations of future growth and thus stimulate current investment and hiring.

The right, for its part, must rethink its obsession with temporary tax cuts for households or businesses. The impact of such cuts on aggregate demand is almost always modest, and they are poorly suited for shifting expectations for recovery and growth in the post-financial-crisis downturn….

Read more at A Growth Pact for America by Glenn Hubbard – Project Syndicate.

Market lifts despite weak global economy

Minutes of the September FOMC meeting highlight growing unease with the strong US Dollar and a weak global economy. The market read this as “low interest rates” and commenced a buying spree. Last year the quarter-end sell-off ended on October 9th after a 4.2% fall. This year’s correction fell 4.7%, lasting 13 days (so far) compared to 15 days in 2013.

Roberto Dominguez at NY Daily News reports:

“The start of earnings season, with companies including Costco and Alcoa reporting quarterly profits that beat forecasts, also helped push the S&P 500 to its biggest rally in a year.”

While Cullen Roche writes that the US fiscal deficit is shrinking:

“…tax receipts have surged by 7.7% year over year and are up 48% over the last 5 years. And while some of this is due to tax increases the vast majority is due to a healing private sector.”

Bellwether transport stock Fedex continues its primary up-trend, signaling improved economic activity.

Fedex

No doubt boosted by a falling outlook for crude oil.

Nymex and Brent Crude

With positive news about, we should be careful not to forget the Fed’s concern with a weak global economy. While this may drive oil prices even lower, the impact on international sales of major exporters will be closely watched.

S&P 500 recovery above 2000 would indicate the correction is over, while follow-through above 2020 would signal another advance. A 21-day Twiggs Money Flow trough above zero would signal a healthy up-trend. Reversal below 1925 is unlikely, but would test primary support at 1900/1910.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 2000 + ( 2000 – 1900 ) = 2100

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) retreated to 15%, indicating low volatility typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

Is unemployment really falling?

US unemployment has fallen close to the Fed’s “natural unemployment rate” of close to 5.5%. Does that mean that all is well?

Not if we consider the participation rate, plotted below as the ratio of non-farm employment to total population.

Employment Participation Rate

Participation peaked in 2000 at close to 0.47 (or 47%) after climbing for several decades with increased involvement of women in the workforce. But the ratio fell to 0.42 post-GFC and has only recovered to 0.435. We are still 3.5% below the high from 14 years ago.

When we focus on male employment, ages 25 to 54, we exclude several obscuring factors:

  • the rising participation rate of women;
  • an increasing baby-boomer retiree population; and
  • changes in the student population under 25.

Employment Rate Men 25 to 54

The chart still displays a dramatic long-term fall.