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Initial Jobless Claims: -27K to 341K vs. 360K consensus, 368K prior (revised). Continuing claims...

Initial Jobless Claims: -27K to 341K vs. 360K consensus, 368K prior (revised). Continuing claims -130K to 3.11M.
Comments (34)
  • Gosh darn it the economy is improving. Again!


    The socialists in power will stop at nothing it seems.
    14 Feb 2013, 08:32 AM Reply Like
  • Looking better though painful slow.
    14 Feb 2013, 08:55 AM Reply Like
  • Nothing in this number to suggest massive recovery. As such, BB will keep QE online. The wealth transfer still has a chance of getting us to 1600 on the S&P by year end and perhaps 2.30 or 2.40 on the 10 yr. 2014 holds some macro policy changes, thus the increased possibility of pull backs will have to be looked at closer then.
    14 Feb 2013, 08:59 AM Reply Like
  • I agree! Just imagine how much better austerity would have been? We need to follow the examples of the EU.
    14 Feb 2013, 09:00 AM Reply Like
  • Unfortunately, we are following most of the examples of the EU.


    Except for soccer, fortunately...
    14 Feb 2013, 09:07 AM Reply Like
  • We need to follow the EU even more. Or even better, why not follow the UK? Austerity has worked wonders for them! They now have a triple dip recession.


    Now that is some good policy making. Compare that to our Govt and the Fed? Bunch of nincompoops I say. All they care about is growing the economy. What about crushing it instead as the good Austrians would?
    14 Feb 2013, 09:13 AM Reply Like
  • I wondered from the beginning how this great experiment would pan out. Curious to see down the road 5 years or so.
    14 Feb 2013, 09:20 AM Reply Like
  • Macro,
    We just went through austerity. In the 4th quarter GDP shrank due to reduced spending in the government sector. That was Austerity. Until reported nobody even knew. Note, the wheels didn’t fall off, in fact we had one of the more stable quarters (though by no means impressive) in this so called recovery.
    At the opposite end of the spectrum the British economy is experiencing problems with austerity being reported, but not actually occurring.

    14 Feb 2013, 09:42 AM Reply Like
  • > Except for soccer, fortunately...


    Unfortunately. Beats watching baseball.
    14 Feb 2013, 11:04 AM Reply Like
  • There is scoring in baseball and there are no ties.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • "Unfortunately. Beats watching baseball. "


    Fun to play, boring to watch. My wife and I joke we used to go to games just to eat nachos.
    14 Feb 2013, 02:48 PM Reply Like
  • "Nacho" most entertaining sport - huh?
    14 Feb 2013, 05:16 PM Reply Like
  • If "Austerity" means weaning people from the government teet and cutting the bloated military, then I'm all for it... and any recession that comes with it. In the long run, we'll be better off.


    Increasing government spending to build a needed dam, electric grid, highways, ports, education, etc. is one thing. Our government isn't responsible enough to spend money on projects like those. They know they'll get more votes by killing Arabs and handing freebies out to old people.
    14 Feb 2013, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • Hello Mick,
    I completely agree!
    Almost no one considers the multiplier!!!!! Most don’t even acknowledge it exists!!
    Spending a trillion on a new Giza style pyramid or statues in every city is calculated in GDP the same way as spending a trillion on new roads, new or improved bridges, etc. is calculated.
    One set of examples can assist in the generation of wealth and the other is just a misallocation of scarce resources. Yet to GDP they are exactly the same.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:43 PM Reply Like
  • I have several family members being effected by military budget cuts. The Navy is delaying ship, plane, and runway maintenance. However, they sure do have some nice new barracks being built. The military needs to get its priorities straight. Their job is to defend Americ, not give people their own room and a color tv.
    14 Feb 2013, 02:54 PM Reply Like
  • to file an Initial Jobless Claim by definition means the claimant had a form of employment which would qualify them to file such a claim; the same BLS that accumulates this data also publishes other data stating that total workforce participation rates have declined


    so an Initial Jobless Claim rate would seem to naturally decline and not automatically be presumed to be job growth


    SA can evolve into a pseudo MSM mouthpiece by converting one piece of data into non factual commentary so they need to watch this


    BTW, Macroinvestor, you really come across surly and know it all and I believe I speak for others when I suggest you tone it down a little
    14 Feb 2013, 10:26 AM Reply Like
  • What do you mean? Everyone knows that the socialists in power are doing everything to lower unemployment and need to be stopped with a good dose of austerity.
    14 Feb 2013, 11:01 AM Reply Like
  • this metric is one of least well understood


    340k is a good number in a good trend of numbers


    directly it measures business health and the pulse of the economy
    it is indirectly linked to unemployment rate and only linked to labour participation to the extend that the labour force is shrinking. It is not as the monthly payroll data attests.


    in the normal economy 320k to 350k per week file - because they get fired or businesses retrench or businesses close.


    this number means we are back to normality.


    in boom times this number falls to sub 300k - this is not a good sign as it means the economy is overheated. wage inflation soon follows along with Fed tightening. this number will signal a top is imminent


    in times of extreme distress it rockets up over 400k to 500k and above. this means that businesses are firing and failing in large numbers. this number - at its peak will signal a bottom is imminent.


    you can use this number to invest. the 4 week average is the one to pay attention too. if it starts to climb upward on a consistent basis it is time to lighten up.


    14 Feb 2013, 11:24 AM Reply Like
  • "in boom times this number falls to sub 300k"


    Yeah, but in normal and boom times you have NFP in the 400k range (in Sept of 83 it was over 1 million). Also, you didn't have a period preceding where almost 9 million jobs were lost, and thus alot of territory to make up.


    What the number indicates is malaise, which means the Fed will stay online. Its not a number that indicates a vibrant robust economy with lots of very desirable jobs. That's the perspective you need to invest from.
    14 Feb 2013, 11:36 AM Reply Like
  • Petrarch: your points are not germane to the issue. this number does not directly speak to hiring - just to business health


    Yeah, but in normal and boom times you have NFP in the 400k range.
    Also, you didn't have a period preceding where almost 9 million jobs were lost, and thus alot of territory to make up.


    Petrarch: no it does not. it says that the rate of firing is basically normal - that is not unduly related to business closure or distress. People get fired as part of the normal course of business. My own business we will net add 100 positions this year. We are hiring 200 to do that - about 50 of the 100 who leave us will be terminated by us the others will change jobs. A chunk of the 50 will show up in this number. Business as usual.


    What the number indicates is malaise, which means the Fed will stay online. Its not a number that indicates a vibrant robust economy with lots of very desirable jobs. That's the perspective you need to invest from.


    Petrarch: the problem is that most people - including you jhooper - do not understand the data. A helpful tip. If I was you I would not invest on any data as you don't know what you are really looking at.


    14 Feb 2013, 12:32 PM Reply Like
  • hoop:


    "That's the perspective you need to invest from."


    You've been singing a critical, rather pessimistic, song for quite a while. It's pointless to use terms like "not massive" or "malaise" because they put subjective qualifiers on what's very apparently been four years of steady improvement. Those that convinced themselves that it was inadequate, or phony or wouldn't last, and thereby refrained from investing in the recovery, really missed the boat.


    Some of these people did extreme damage to themselves, as they panicked out at the bottom, then told themselves not to trust anything, afterward, and they judged all results with a jaundiced eye. Their bitterness in this consequence is frequently demonstrated by the underlying anger that one can sense just below the surface of many comments.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:42 PM Reply Like
  • "this number does not directly speak to hiring - just to business health"


    I never said it did. What you are trying to say is that someone who has been paralyzed in a car accident now has normal breathing is tantamount to someone who has normal breathing and is no longer paralyzed.


    "it says that the rate of firing is basically normal "


    Yeah, and that's the problem. To get back to a robust economy, we need fewer firings and more hirings. The fact that we are back to normal from a layoff perspective and still weak from a hiring perspective is not an indicator that your ideologies have been vindicated.


    " the problem is that most people - including you jhooper"


    I hope I didn't have you crying in your Cheerios, poor thing.




    "do not understand the data. A helpful tip. If I was you I would not invest on any data "


    Here's what it means. The economy is not strong enough to justify the equity indexes at their current levels or the 10 yr at over 2%. So, if BB to were let off these levels would settle back down to even more of malaise indicators. What this would mean for the average person is if they get in right before BB let off, they would get hosed. However, if they could ride that out, eventually BB would come to their rescue again and reinflate. Back when the 10yr hit 1.39 was the time to get in. I dumped about $25 million of my bonds, took gains, and then positioned for QEi, which is exactly what BB handed me. I was figuring on the S&P being over 1500 by the end of Dec and the 10 yr at 2.00. Well, its a little late, but here we are.


    Now I'm waiting for the run up to 1600 and 2.30 on the 10yr by year end. If I get a whiff of QE ending, or major new taxes on the rich, or major ramp ups in Obamacare or Dodd Frank, then that will be the time to take another $40 or $50 million position in bonds, then wait for the collapse, take the gains, and repeat. Again, it all depends if they hand me the right set of circumstances. If not, stay in equities until the circumstances arise. For those that don't want to do the timing just stay in equities. In today's environment, equities are like an index of an aristocracy. They are going to do whatever it takes to protect their wealth, so its like investing in that.


    So P, I guess you are going to be sitting in cash all this time?
    14 Feb 2013, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • hoop:


    I think your assessment of the economy is predicated on an error that almost the entire QE-critic crowd has made. They view QE, not as a "catalyst" for the recovery, but as a "crutch," the moment in which it is removed, the patient again falls on his face. This is the "none of it is real" school of analysis, and it's been a very painful one for its adherents.


    In fact, the monetary expansion added by QE never has to be removed or "repaid" (another fallacy made by many who do not understand sovereign debt, as opposed to private debt). It can and will exist as a permanent addition to the monetary infrastructure if and until such time that the Fed desires to reverse course because the economy gets too hot. There is no other expiration date, so there's no reason it will precipitate anything, because, in fact, QE will only be contracted as a reaction to the economy, not as a precursor.


    Another facet of statistics that has completely faked out many is the preoccupation with the employment numbers. The unemployment percentages, now, and any modest changes to them, are near meaningless to the economy, despite all the bleating of the media and egalitarian-minded social engineers. The fact of the matter is that the economy for the past two decades was carrying several percentage points of dead weight in no-longer-needed, but-still-employed workers. It was only the arrival, finally in 2008, of an economic contraction large enough that it couldn't be ignored, that corporations swept the employment rosters clean. Now, instead of being rather uselessly carried by the private sector, they have become wards of the public sector.


    But, besides that, not much has changed for the other 90+% of people, whose behavior actually controls the economy. And, corporations are not only able to meet any demand without the previous workers, they're much more efficient in doing so, ergo the margins have expanded. Much of this expansion is a net gain achieved in the 2008 moment, but representing twenty years of efficiency improvements that were masked by excess employment rolls. Consequently, that's why we haven't seen the "mean reversion" of corporate margins that all the naysayers talk about, nor are we likely to return to the old mean, even if margins contract slightly from time to time.


    The bottom line is that there's much more "real" to this recovery, and always has been, than the critics have erroneously contended to the contrary.
    14 Feb 2013, 01:17 PM Reply Like
  • "think your assessment of the economy is predicated on an error that almost the entire QE-critic crowd has made"


    No, your assigning to me an assumption about your experiences with other commentators.


    I think the error you are making is conflating asset prices with the economy. Granted a growing vibrant economy is good for asset prices, but you can also have an economy that is weaker than it can should be due to gov price blind policies, but if it is left the strength it has and the policies don't get worse and worse (thus creating a Cuba or a N Korea) then there will be wealth that can be transferred and used to bid up asset prices.


    So what you are assuming about me is because I lament the suffering gov policies have had on millions of victims who could all have much better lives, that then means I assume Armageddon is just around the corner and all the markets are going to collapse and kill us all. What I see from history is that as long as the tyrants don't go to far, the peasants will still create wealth that can be transferred to the tyrant. What I think you fail to see is that if there were no tyrant, then we would all be far wealthier and we could make truly economic decisions. What I also think people in general fail to see, is that just because the data is OK or even somewhat good, then that precludes that it could be even better. That's the specious argument that has been used to keep people down for centuries. Its the old, "well if it hadn't been for us controlling your lives, then you would all be dead, so you better shut up and be grateful."


    "The unemployment percentages, now and any modest changes to them, are near meaningless to the economy, "


    No, that's not true either. It might be irrelevant to an index that measures the wealth of those that have wealth, but an economy is about how well everyone is doing. So, are you telling me that if NFP was 1 million plus every month, then you would think that would have no impact on the economy?


    "The bottom line is that there's much more "real" to this recovery, and always has been, than the critics have erroneously contended."


    Sure, but real within the context of someone that has been paralyzed and is now wiggling their foot. I would prefer they were up and about and living a vibrant life. I see all those unemployed people as potential value creators. They have the potential to improve my standard of living. Thus I want the online and contributing. Granted I can do well without them, but I could do even better with them involved. Since I am interested in my self interest and other people represent a means for me to further my self interest, then I will constantly advocate for policies to bring those people into the production fold. The old bromides about the luddites finally being right and that machines are going to replace people is just a bunch of hooey. Machines simply change the nature of employment. If we didn't have so many price blind gov interventions, people would use machines to be self employed. There would be lots of competition and lots of choice and an ever increasing standard of living that improved far faster than what we have now. Only the doom and gloomers say otherwise, and I am no doom and gloomer. Although, I do believe things would be far better if we could just stop listening to fast talking idiots that constantly promise the moon and then make excuses for why they couldn't deliver and somehow that's my fault.


    Finally, for the small retail guys, I would suggest getting into equities and staying there. Just hope you don't need to cash out in a downturn. Of course, that just means you might have to wait or just net it out with your overall returns, but you would want to get in equities and stay there. Just make sure you have the fortitude to stay there, and don't let conventional wisdom trick you into buying in at the peak and selling out at the bottom. That's how your wealth is transferred from you. For me, my full time gig is moving based on changes in the macro picture that will move interest rates. So, policy that will affect that, is what I watch for, and the policy horizon is one that will perpetuate malaise, thus low rates, punctuated by short term spikes. If that changes, then I will change my approach, but for now there is too much money to made to get sucked into believing the economy is about to take off on a tear because we have a bunch of socialists in charge.
    14 Feb 2013, 01:46 PM Reply Like
  • hoop:


    Investment is about playing the cards on the table, as represented by the real world, not by endless engagement in a political-science debate, which assumes a moral position, but doesn't have much else to do with the current realities an investor faces every day in the world we inhabit. None of us have to like what we see; we all have to live in it.


    I am going to add to my contention about the unemployment rate. While it might mean a lot to any individual who doesn't have a job, statistically speaking, the changes at the margin are dwarfed by any changes in spending behavior of the majority. To wit: If the unemployment rate falls by one percentage point, and those individuals all spend at the median rate, their entire effect would be dwarfed by just a 5% change in spending of the 90% already employed. In fact, it would be 4.5 times as much impact.


    That's why it's the spending behavior of the masses that decides whether we grow or contract, not whether the unemployment rate is 8%, 7% or 6%. That's also why panics are so devastating. Those unemployment numbers are all swell for leftist politicians, the mass media and other "concerned" citizens, who publicly bemoan unemployment stats, but they really don't have all that much to do with the economic aggregate.


    Regarding your comment, "believing the economy is about to take off on a tear because we have a bunch of socialists in charge," this again is not the relevant issue, which you have again imbued with politics. The issue is that the majority is spending again, corporations are highly liquid, and vast sums of investment capital lie outside, not inside, equities. This is a recipe for continued economic and market-value expansion. It doesn't have to be a "tear;" it just has to be the right direction.


    Those betting on the contrary continue to find themselves fighting the data. I think a lot of them have adopted this position because they don't agree politically with what they see, but that's a bad investment premise on which to make decisions.
    14 Feb 2013, 02:11 PM Reply Like
  • "not by endless engagement in a political-science debate"


    Yeah, but that's part of my fun. Watching a coercive blow up at me is very entertaining.


    "publicly bemoan unemployment stats, but they really don't have all that much to do with the economic aggregate."


    Well, that's not what I was arguing. I was jabbing at those implying that it does as some sort of validation that their ideology is bringing about a utopia because of slight change in gov economic data, and thus as justification for instituting more of their crazy ideologies.


    For my investment decisions, employment data is just a broad guide. Part of the portfolio I have includes about $50 million in real estate. That portfolio would be doing far better if the NFP number was 500k +. Just the emotional impact alone of those that I would sell to would be immense with such headlines. So my frustation is numbers like we have been getting that are no where near what I need them to be for asset classes I have that are like this. So when I see people talking about how great the numbers are, from my perspective they are not great enough.


    Overall, though politics do matter. They drive asset bubbles, and not recognizing that makes you vulnerable to the markets. You have to pay attention to it and read alot of history. That background gives you the foundation to understand how large macro forces will determine the direction of interest rates. Once you understand what moves them, they are much more predictable than people think.


    "I think a lot of them have adopted this position because they don't agree politically with what they see, but that's a bad investment premise on which to make decisions. "


    Yeah, this is a really good point. Capitalism, which is what makes all of our lives better, is actually hard to kill. Even in the darkest socialist and communist economies, capitalism still exists, except in those circumstances its called the black market or contraband. It provides the real productivity that supports the populaces living in that darkness. We still have alot of that in the US and it will take extraordinary measures to kill it, but we can certainly wound it. We still have Dodd Frank to go and Obamacare and more taxes on the rich, so there are still some macro policy changes that are set to impede that productivity. We are still seeing it now. The data is OK, but that's just it. Its OK. To heal the damage we just went through it should be great.
    14 Feb 2013, 02:32 PM Reply Like
  • Petrarch - "in the normal economy 320k to 350k per week file - "because they get fired or businesses retrench or businesses close."


    With a non-farm payroll number of ~155 million are you saying that normal turnover would be 350k x 12 / 155 mil or 2.7%?


    I conclude that initial claims data expresses movement within the labor force, and may be an indicator of distress in bad times, but not necessarily an indicator of health in good times. Anyone that can point me to studies/papers on the relationship between Initial Claims and GDP growth, please help me out.
    14 Feb 2013, 05:23 PM Reply Like
  • Tack,


    I agree with you that the spending behavior of the 92% has a greater impact on the economy than the spending behavior of the 8%. However, although 70% of the economy is consumer spending, it's the other 30% which actually drives economic cycles for the most part.


    Though for sure some portion of consumer spending is discretionary (vacations, eating out, etc.), most of it is actually non-discretionary (rent / mortgage, food, phone / cable / internet, transportation costs, insurance, etc.) Only a relatively small portion of overall consumer spending is discretionary. Conversely, businesses can cut back on spending tremendously when the music stops and they're all scrambling to find an empty chair (they refrain from buying new equipment or building new factories or offices, put off replacing aging vehicle fleets or computer systems, lay off workers, etc.) And this is exactly what happened in late 2008 / early 2009 and what made the recession so deep. Consumer spending only contracted by less than 2% during the "great recession" but business investment contracted by over 25%.


    This is why demand side economics misses the mark. It's not about people having money to spend, it's about people inventing new technologies and businesses implementing ideas which improves everyone's standard of living (computers, smart phones, gas fracking, Amazon selling goods online, Netflix DVD by mail service, etc.) People can have lots of money to spend, but they won't buy a smart phone if it hasn't been invented yet - supply creates its own demand.


    So again, I agree with you all the consternation about high unemployment since 2009 has been misguided (when it comes to forecasting the economy and stock market), but what I'm saying is it's even more misguided than what you're suggesting.
    14 Feb 2013, 10:46 PM Reply Like
  • Normal turnover in the economy is about 15 to 20% per year
    Let us say that we have 155 million people working


    That means that in any given year 25 to 30 million people change jobs. The vast majority of these move voluntarily.


    Those that do not - will file for unemplyment - they get counted here in weekly jobless claims


    The higher this number the more people are being fired and filing.


    Some of these are due to (a) incompetence, (b) others are due to RIF's and (c) some because businesses fail. The numbers you are seeing now are (a) and a normal level of (c)


    There is a baseline level of incompetence and failure in the economy. About 350k per week is the normal rate. Out of 30 millions who change jobs in a given year - around 15% are involuntary.


    you can surmise from this data that business is good. Businesses are not firing people as a survival mode.


    Take it from me as someone who runs a business with a 1000 employees and knows others like me. In late 2008 CEO and Boards were firing in anticipation of Great Depresson 2 - it was survival mode. There was no hiring. That is entirely different now. Yes - noone is hiring willly nilly but there is hiring and more to the point there is very little firing.


    Why is this so hard to understand? Use your commonsense. Profits are at record levels, Balance sheets are granite strong the data is good. Use you brain.


    14 Feb 2013, 11:56 PM Reply Like
  • "Why is this so hard to understand?"


    Its not. What you don't understand is that you are confusing two different things. What you don't have is lots and lots of new businesses coming on line with lots and lots of different choices. What you are describing is the govs power to protect current wealth with a high regulatory and income tax structure. Sure if you are already a market player, the gov can protect what you have by making sure any new competition is squelched, thus if you have index of such protection, of course its going to do well.


    That's my point. People need to understand that one way they can protect themselves is by basically investing in an index that tracks an aristocracy of sorts. There is a long history of gov being used to do just this sort of thing, but that doesn't conflate to that this means an overall good economy. It might be good for those being protected, but its not good for those being held down.


    That's the distinction I am drawing, and I am also illustrating that we were promised a full recovery and we are no where near close to that. So while people can protect themselves by understanding the govs power to protect existing wealth and thereby provide some protection for themselves, they shouldn't confuse this with how much better things could be if gov weren't being used as a barrier for new wealth.


    That's why its important to realize that gov policy that is on tap for 2014 represents some large macro changes that basically boil down to the destruction of Fed notes. Fed note destruction means they don't exist to bid up asset prices. When asset prices fall, people will need to realize that they don't need to panic, because the Fed will go to the mattresses to get them bid back up. As long as fiscal policy doesn't completely destroy productivity, then the Fed will have wealth it can transfer back to equities and get them bid back up. This is how gov wealth transfer policies have worked for centuries. Why is that so hard to understand?
    15 Feb 2013, 06:45 AM Reply Like
  • jhooper, you are spot on. The broader picture is continued high unemployment with sputtering economic trends, a very tenuous situation. Most disturbing is the high rate of deficit spending just to generate these sputtering trends. How can we ever wean ourselves from all this deficit spending without adverse economic impact? However, are we only buying time until the financial markets finally tire of the glut of dollars in the system? For the moment, the equity markets seem the best play available.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:08 PM Reply Like
  • Conn and Illinois were estimates: (from the
    The huge snowstorm that hit the Northeast this weekend seems to have had little impact on the data. The report covers the week ended Feb. 9, before the storm hit.


    A department spokesman said Connecticut was unable to report data to the federal government earlier this week because state offices were closed after the storm. Illinois also didn’t provide data, so both states’ figures were estimated by the Labor Department.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:09 PM Reply Like
  • And during that time, I would think that few businesses were hiring or firing. They were too busy shoveling.
    14 Feb 2013, 12:59 PM Reply Like
  • What excuse did Illinois have to not report its data?
    14 Feb 2013, 01:51 PM Reply Like
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