Trouble in the East

Expect a continued arm wrestle between Russia and the West over influence in the Ukraine. Russians obviously view their shrinking sphere of influence as a threat to future security. But Vladimir Putin’s actions in Georgia, Moldova, Crimea and the Ukraine — straight from the KGB playbook — are the biggest threat to their security.

A war-weary US and pacifist Europe may be slow to react, but their capacity when provoked to subdue any threat from the East, through their combined economic might, is immense. One should not be fooled by Putin’s macho posturing. He is playing a very weak hand.

A Mis-Leading Labor Market Indicator | Liberty Street Economics

From a paper by Samuel Kapon and Joseph Tracy at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

As the economy recovered and growth resumed, the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7 percent. …..The employment-population (E/P) ratio frequently is used as an additional labor market measure. The E/P ratio is defined as the number of employed divided by the size of the working-age, noninstitutionalized population. An advantage of the E/P ratio over the unemployment rate is that it is not impacted by discouraged workers who stop looking for employment.

Employment-population (E/P) ratio

Since the end of the recession, the E/P ratio has largely remained constant—that is, virtually none of the decline in the E/P ratio from the Great Recession has been recovered to date. An implication is that the 7.6 million jobs added since the trough of employment in February 2010 has essentially just kept pace with growth in the working-age population. In its failure to recover, the E/P ratio would seem to depict a much weaker labor market than indicated by the unemployment rate. An important question is whether this is a correct or a misleading characterization of the degree of the labor market recovery…….

Read more at A Mis-Leading Labor Market Indicator – Liberty Street Economics.

Hat tip to Barry Ritholz.

Time for U.S. to Disengage from North Korea Crisis | Cato Institute

Doug Bandow suggests:

Washington should begin contemplating, within earshot of Beijing, getting out of the way of its allies if the North continues to develop nuclear weapons. The message to China should be: if your client state continues its present course, you may face a nuclear-armed Japan. If that happens, blame your buddies in Pyongyang.

Read more at Time for U.S. to Disengage from North Korea Crisis | Doug Bandow | Cato Institute.

Olympic highlights: Mens 4x100m freestyle relay

Highlight of the Olympics so far is France’s performance in the Mens 4x100m freestyle relay:

Vodpod videos no longer available.