Economy

The Empire State Vixen Index And Other Befuddled Ironies

We’ve all heard about Wall Street employees who lost their jobs and ended up doing something unrelated, chasing after a dream, starting up a software company, working on a crab boat, teaching English to immigrants, run a taco truck, become a pole dancer…. So there should be indices that measure the number of people undergoing sudden and unlikely career changes—to give us a better gauge of the real job market.

The Inexplicable American Consumer Hits A Wall

The strongest and toughest creature out there, and maybe the smartest one, that no one has been able to subdue yet, the inexplicable American consumer has hit a wall. It showed up in a prosaic but ugly 8-K filing by Visa—a staggering and sudden shift that pundits tried to explain away somehow by referring to recent changes in debit card regulations. I mean, come on.

Calamity Economy Rearing its Ugly Head Again?

“Despite all of the rhetoric to the contrary, it looks like the air got let out of the balloon,” commented the members of the Survey Panel of the ISM-Chicago Business Survey; the closely watched numbers had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. But the phenomenon wasn’t limited to the Chicago area. And now there are real reasons for concern.

Mad Cow: the Costs of Trying to Keep Costs Down

“The US is one of two major beef-exporting countries with no comprehensive traceability system,” said Erin Borror, economist at the Meat Export Federation. The other country is India. The issue was Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease. Humans contract it by eating contaminated beef. It’s always fatal. Lack of traceability “places the US at risk if an outbreak occurs in this country,” Borror said. That was last November.

The Beer War on American Soil

I love beer. Particularly craft beer. I’m a sucker for a good IPA, or an amber, or a pale ale. For special occasions, there’s the expensive stuff. If I’m traveling, I try to discover local brews. And the first swig is one of the simplest great pleasures in life. But I’ll stick to the numbers. And they’re morose for the US beer industry. Yet there is an astonishing winner.

Next: Bankruptcy for a whole Generation

Thousands of students from all over California snarled traffic during their march on the Capitol in Sacramento. Hundreds of them then flooded the Rotunda of the Capitol, a raucous affair. Eventually, the Highway Patrol cleared them out, and 60 were thrown in the hoosegow for trespassing and resisting arrest. Their problem: tuition increases—in a system that has become dysfunctional.

Suddenly, a Sharp Deterioration in the Job Market

Hullabaloo broke out after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a surprisingly robust 243,000 jobs were created in January, and that the unemployment rate was 8.3%. Cynics, academics, BLS heretics, hype mongers, and politicians waged a media battle over these numbers that President Obama serenely trotted out as validation of his policies. Even Rush Limbaugh jumped into the fray. Alas, suddenly, there is a sharp deterioration.

Surveys: CEOs Are Binging on False Hope

We finally have statistical proof that CEOs are … a confusing bunch. PWC’s survey shows that CEOs in 60 countries are exhibiting signs of gloom about the economy but not their own companies. German CEOs, facing the Eurozone debt crisis on a daily basis, aren’t feeling the pain, according to Ifo’s indices. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey points at spiking optimism. And all three show patterns of false hope.

Friday Night Economic Indices

There still are some economic numbers that aren’t seasonally adjusted or manipulated with fancy statistical footwork by governmental, quasi-governmental, or non-governmental number mongers. And they give us the true picture of the worldwide economy: beer, wine, mood, and San Francisco real estate—with more predictive power than is allowed by law.