Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 13, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyOver a Million Job Openings It has been a very long time since there was such a distinct surplus of jobs in the U.S. economy—7.34 million of them. If every single person who is unemployed were to take a job, there would still be a million jobs unfilled. There are many reasons these jobs are going unfilled and add...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 12, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyArrival of Late Reports This may have been the most colossal and serious impact of the government shutdown—at least as far as I was concerned. The many agencies that produce the reams of economic data used to assess the state of the economy were not grinding out this information for over a month. Now there will b...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 8, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyIt's All About Communication Several economists working in the private sector (as opposed to government or academe) were asked to grade the last few Fed chairmen. They turned out to be fairly tough graders. Current Chair Jerome Powell got a B-. The two prior to him (Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen) received B+ grad...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 6, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyProductivity Levels Rose at End of 2018 One of the major concerns for the economy has been the level of worker productivity as the unemployment rate fell to record lows. This has been especially worrisome as employers started hiring people who would require a lot of training before being truly productive. The dat...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 4, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyFed Changes Its Tune To be honest, the Fed has indicated all along that it would be governed by the numbers and by little else. This has been standard operating procedure for the Federal Reserve since its inception and is a characteristic shared with all the major central banks. Rates will be hiked when there is ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 1, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyShutdown and Jobs DataThis month's report on the jobs data will be affected to some degree by the government shutdown as some 800,000 employees of the federal government were not being paid and most were eligible for unemployment assistance for all or part of that period. This is a temporary issue (provided there...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 30, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyFed Advocates Patience The problem is that few seem to know what that really means. There are now reasons to both raise rates and to leave them where they are, or even lower them again. After several years of non-existent inflation, there are some solid signs that it has been developing. Wage rates are starting t...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 29, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyImplications of a Cooler Housing Market The housing market has not fallen into the deep freeze yet. There seems to be enough demand to keep that from happening. The market has indeed slowed; there is a lot less economic activity than was the case a year or so ago. The higher price of homes, the shaky stock market...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 25, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyThe Jobless Dilemma It has been apparent for years that the shortage of qualified labor has inhibited the U.S. economy and reduced productivity. It has been a subject that gets beaten half to death by pundits from the right and left. Today, there was an interesting opportunity to hear a couple of perspectives. Th...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 23, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyHome Sales Data Slows Sales of new homes fell by 6.4% in the last month, the slowest month recorded since 2015. This was not a huge shock to the system as there have been a variety of "headwinds" that evoked a lot of comment these last few months. It has been the usual issue of higher prices and higher mortgage r...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyFlagging Consumer ConfidenceFor the last couple of years, the consumer confidence level has been high and, in many respects, higher than would have been expected. The sense has been that consumers pay close attention to only a handful of factors as far as the economy is concerned—jobs, prices and the behavior of ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 18, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyJobless Claim Still Low In the next few weeks, the jobless numbers are going to be very hard to interpret. This may be about the last week that claims can be assessed as an accurate indication of the state of the U.S. workforce. The government shutdown is dumping hundreds of thousands of federal workers into the ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 16, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomySmall Business and the Shutdown Much of the attention has been focused on the estimated 800,000 people who are federal employees and not being paid. This will certainly have an economic impact in those regions where federal employment is a major part of the community, but an even bigger impact will be felt by the...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 14, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyVisa Reversal? At this stage nobody quite knows what this means, but on the surface, it sounds promising. The statement by President Trump in a tweet was cryptic and nobody knows if this is part of some well-developed effort or something that just occurred to him. The statement suggests there will be some major c...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 11, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyShutdown and Unemployment The government shutdown has now lasted longer than any of the previous episodes. With both sides as dug in as they ever were, there is no end in sight. The impact on the 800,000 employees has started to become severe. There have been significant problems for those who once relied on vari...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 9, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomySmall Business Loses Confidence Small business confidence can be an illusive quarry. It is so diverse it can be hard to gauge an overall attitude to much of anything. The National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB) does a pretty fair job of polling and assessing the group. Their studies have been showing ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 7, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyGig Economy Is a Flop At least that is the conclusion for the time being. It was just a few years ago that many thought the "gig economy" would totally transform the workforce and alter the relationship between employer and employee forever. After some 10 years of research, it is safe to say that the gig economy ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 4, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyMomentum Shift There is more evidence that 2019 will not be the repeat of 2018 that many had been hoping for. The latest edition of the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell sharply to 54.1. This was after a reading of 59.3 in November. A five-point loss is not common and comes as a result of far weaker export nu...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 2, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyTariffs and ExemptionsFrom the very beginning, there has been a certain amount of confusion accompanying the steel and aluminum tariffs. The fact is U.S. steel and aluminum makers have been facing severe competitive pressures over the years from nations like China and Russia that openly subsidize and support thei...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for December 28, 2018

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyConsumer Debt There are many aspects of the recent economic rebound that are positive and have contributed to optimism regarding the coming year, but there are also some potential land mine issues. One of the most threatening is debt. The level of consumer debt is back to where it once was—not a good thing. The c...
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