Friday, May 3, 2013

Two very different reasons to print money

New jobless claims fell to 324,000 last week and these numbers are starting to look like pre-Bush crash statistics. Job creation while steady has not been particularly robust, averaging 225,000 per month. The bright spot was February and that number has been revised upward to 325,000 new jobs for the month. April coming in today at 150,000 was better than the March number revised upward to 135,000 new jobs.

These statistics are from employer establishment surveys and may not reflect accurately what is really happening. A sharp increase in pickup truck sales indicate a resurgence in small business activity that   could mushroom into more jobs across the economy. Ford has announced the hiring of 2000 truck assembly plant workers, this alone will had additional jobs in parts manufacturing, and in other areas where these workers will spend money.

Drudge didn't run their monthly screaming headline about the decrease in the labor participation rate, since it has turned sharply in the opposite direction. This indicates that more people are in fact finding work compared to the number that aren't working. These non-participators include those who are jobless as well as young people and immigrants newly entering the workforce. The total number of people that are available to work includes all non-military, non-institutionalized adults no matter how elderly. The participation rate has been drifting lower ever since the Baby Boomers have started to retire and only became a concern for the Right Wing media after Obama took office. The percentage number is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Household Survey which also produces the unemployment rate that moved down in April.

The 'austerity at all costs' crowd can take comfort in the continuing decline in the number government and postal workers. This is putting a drag on the economy as does the continuing out sourcing of good paying manufacturing jobs by companies like Bain Capital. While there was a four cents an hour increase in the average hourly wage to $23.87, that really reflects a modest increase in pay at the low end of the pay scale that makes up the bulk of American jobs. This is barely off-setting the better paying jobs that are disappearing. Since the real minimum wage should $22/hour, this illustrates perfectly why the economy is still in the dumper, nobody has any money to spend. No spending means no demand, and no demand means no jobs.

Really the only thing that is keeping the whole thing from collapsing is that the Federal Reserve is printing 85 billion/month in new money to buy various bond instruments, with the Fed now holding over $3 trillion. This 'quantitative easing, version 3' spending works out to a little over a trillion USDs on an annual basis, or equivalent to over a quarter of the Federal budget, or a 16th of the GDP. This so-called QE-3 has no planned end date and they are even discussing increasing it. While it poses no threat of run away hyper-inflation as the far right keeps insisting, it does indicate just how deep of a ditch that we are in. And no, this is not a good way to handle it. But, not doing QE-3 along with Congress not doing anything would result in total collapse.

The People's Republic of China continues to increase its dominance of world trade with the amount international business actually being done in the Chinese Yuan increasing by 17% last year. This sounds like a lot, but they still are way behind Norway's currency. Not that this won't change, increasingly China's trading partners are holding Yuan cash reserves rather than using the USD or the Euro as an intermediate currency. Some folks are suggesting that the Yuan could be comparable in volume to other major currencies in as little a three years.

This is really amazing for a currency that nobody outside China would accept just ten years ago. Just 30 years ago China was building steam locomotives and now they dominate the world in bullet trains. The US of course, has none of that sort of thing. China prints money for trade, we print money to keep the billionaire's banks from collapsing. This illustrates the difference between having a government that has as its purpose the development of the country, and that of having a government whose purpose it is to transfer wealth to super rich.  twitter @BruceEnberg  and Facebook Prairie2 News

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Politics continues to trump science and even common sense

The Obama Administration's FDA is attempting to side step a Federal Judge's ruling removing all restrictions on the sale of the Morning After Pill. The so called Plan B contraceptive will now be sold on the same shelf with condoms and similar products, but will still be age limited contrary to the Court ruling. The age will be lowered to 15, but anyone attempting to make the purchase will be required to show a valid ID to complete the transaction as the product scan code will alert the checkout clerk. This FDA rule only applies to the 'Plan B' trademarked drug, generic versions will continue to sold only from behind the pharmaceutical counter to age 17 and up, also required to 'show papers please'.

This 'technicality' will not only make it unavailable to most younger teenage women who lack official ID, but also any adult similarly lacking in 'papers'. The drug is only effective if used within 72 hours and best if used in less than 24, and it has no effect if the woman is already pregnant  It also introduces the 'shame factor' into the transaction reducing effective availability. The reproductive rights group who brought the original lawsuit have indicated that they will continue Court action.

The FDA has admitted that it doesn't have any scientific or medical reason to deny access to the contraceptive medication that is nothing more than a triple dose of the commonly use birth control pill. This is strictly the heavy hand of the 'women are the origin of all sin' men's club coming to bear through their domination of the government. Obama needs to intervene in this case, while the FDA should operate without political influence, this agency that is supposed to function in the public good is simply not acting in good faith. Obama has three women in his House who need to take him to school.  twitter @BruceEnberg  and on Facebook Prairie2 News