Economics Roundtable

May 2014 Payroll Employment

After 76 months, we finally got back to the prerecession level of payroll employment.

Click on the image to get a bigger version.


The best summary of the state of our economy is the graph (below) of employment as a fraction of population for people over 16 years old. The decrease is large, but the most troubling feature of the graph is the flat trend .

Click on the image to get a bigger version.

Graph-of-the-Year Candidates

Donald Marron likes European interest rates. Click on the image to get a bigger version. Can you find three distinct subperiods?

Brad DeLong favors the U.S. gdp gap.

Remember M1?

Money Supply M1 growth is now over 20% per year over a 12 month lag. M1 growth has touched 20% before, but not with excess reserves of $1.6 trillion. Where is M1 headed?

Click on the chart for a larger version.


The Economics Roundtable is sponsored by EconModel.

The Classic Economic Models cover micro, macro, and financial markets.

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October 10, 2015, 5:33 am, 1556168


In the past decade, sales of the humble Oreo are up 60 percent, passing $2.5 billion a year. Its success defies two major food-world trends: toward the healthy and unprocessed, and toward the pumped-up and Xtreme. Somehow, this ancient brand has taken off in its second ...

October 10, 2015, 2:44 am, 1556138

The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue ...

October 10, 2015, 2:05 am, 1556137

I enjoyed many passages in this book, here was my favorite:

As well as these untranslatable terms, I have gathered synonyms — especially those that bring new energies to familiar phenomena.  The variant English terms for ‘icicle’ — aquabob (Kent), clinkerbell and daggler (Wessex), cancervell (Exmoor), ickle (Yorkshire), tankle (Durham), shuckle ...

October 10, 2015, 2:04 am, 1556136
I have been working (in my head) on a wonkish, fully cited, post on the fundamental fallacy embedded at the basis of neo-classical econ. But I am still engaged on reading the ur-texts (hint Karl Polanyi and a revisit to E.P. Thompson) so instead will just throw out my thesis ...

October 10, 2015, 1:03 am, 1556127

October 10, 2015, 1:03 am, 1556126

Katharine Abraham, Steven Davis, and John Haltiwanger:

Don’t Starve the BLS: ...why is Congress eyeing further cuts to the Bureau of Labor Statistics budget?Proposed Senate legislation would cut the BLS by another $13 million in 2016, after its real annual spending has already fallen more than 10 percent ($72 ...

October 10, 2015, 1:03 am, 1556125

Luigi Zingales:

Is Money Corrupting Research?: The integrity of research and expert opinions in Washington came into question last week, prompting the resignation of Robert Litan ... from his position as a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Senator Elizabeth Warren raised the issue of a conflict of ...

October 10, 2015, 12:05 am, 1556122

Inquiring minds wish to know for the purposes of the next few days…I have my own views, but first would love to hear yours.

October 10, 2015, 12:04 am, 1556121
My previous post talked about how profits peaked 12 months ago coinciding with the economy hitting the effective demand limit. The idea is that profit margins will peak at the effective demand limit. Keynes stated this… “Thus the volume of employment is given by the point of intersection between the ...

October 9, 2015, 9:03 pm, 1556103
During the recession, I started following the Sacramento market to look for changes in the mix of houses sold (equity, REOs, and short sales). For a few years, not much changed. But in 2012 and 2013, we saw some significant changes with a dramatic shift from distressed sales ...

October 9, 2015, 8:44 pm, 1556102

Minting small change was a big, expensive problem in the ancient world. This column argues that the ancient Lydian government and Greek city-states absorbed the cost of producing an extremely wide array of denominations of coins as a political strategy. Governments had much to gain from the spread of coinage ...

October 9, 2015, 8:04 pm, 1556101

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran just suffered a big blow in the death of Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani on October 8 in Syria. Hamedani was a central figure in the IRGC and a possible successor to current IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari. He helped Jafari restructure the ...

October 9, 2015, 7:03 pm, 1556060
Yesterday I posted some comments by Merrill Lynch economists on September CPI. Here is the take of economists at Nomura:

"Given the recent tightening in labor markets, higher wages in the health care sector and continued declines in the vacancy rate of rental houses, we think that ...

October 9, 2015, 6:44 pm, 1556059

October 9, 2015, 6:44 pm, 1556058

October 9, 2015, 6:04 pm, 1556056
(October 9, 2015 06:18 PM, by David Henderson) "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," he told CNN on Thursday. This is from a BBC report titled "Ben Carson defends linking gun control to... (1 ...

October 9, 2015, 6:04 pm, 1556055

This blog series analyzes the most important Iran news events of the past week and provides an outlook of the regime’s strategic calculus.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not need Russian cruise missiles crashing inside the Islamic Republic to understand that Russia’s new gambit in the Syrian civil ...

October 9, 2015, 5:33 pm, 1556052
In response to Chicago Suburbs $1 Million+ Home Sales "Not Totally Dead" Yet; Rush for the Exit, I received emails from Virginia and Texas about slowdowns in those states.

Anecdotes do not constitute "data" but all three stories (counting Chicago) show significant weakness at the high-end ...

October 9, 2015, 5:03 pm, 1556000

U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.31 a gallon over December 2013 to February 2014 but only $2.31 a gallon over December 2014 to February 2015. How did consumers respond to this windfall in their spending power? A new study by the JP Morgan Chase Institute has come up ...

October 9, 2015, 5:03 pm, 1555999
Joe Weisenthal and Alix Steel have invited me to be on Bloomberg's 'What'd You Miss?' today. We are going to discuss demographics and the impact on renting.

The title of this post is from a report by Oregon Office of Economic Analysis economist Josh Lehner on the Portland ...

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555997

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555998

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555996

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555995

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555993

October 9, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1555994

October 9, 2015, 4:34 pm, 1555992
There may be a rate hike around the next bend in the calendar after all. Or maybe not. Like the possibility of rain next Tuesday or peace in the Middle East over the next 50 years, you can’t rule anything out. Ruling it in isn’t a slam-dunk, but today’s lineup ...

October 9, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1555990

October 9, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1555988


The present contribution is a part of a research on the prospect of European unity, defined by the dialectical poles of monist and polyarchical forms of distribution of the power. This reflection tries to decline this approach into a political science perspective, according to that theoretical and empirical approach called ...

October 9, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1555989

Alan Krueger during a media briefing at the White House in Washington November 26, 2012.
REUTERS/Kevin ...

October 9, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1555987

A new report from the Cato Institute concludes that federal government employees are paid salaries 78% higher than the average private sector worker. That’s the number that’s generating headlines. And it’s basically wrong. But if you don’t believe that federal employees are overpaid by 78% percent, you also don’t believe ...

October 9, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1555986

The news out of the Middle East these days is not good. The front page of the Washington Post this morning reports that the “Black Flag of the Islamic State rises on Libyan coast,” as ISIS commanders impose their brutal rule in Sirte.

In Syria, a popular uprising against Assad ...

October 9, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1555984

I got this idea from reading a Matt Rognlie comment on a previous post. (But Matt may or may not agree with what I say here).

A. Suppose the government sells bonds, and finances those bonds by imposing a 10% sales tax on (say) milk.

B. Suppose the government sells ...

October 9, 2015, 3:23 pm, 1555983
Ben Bernanke's memoir is now out and is unapologetically pro-Fed. It is titled "The Courage to Act" Here is the cover quote:

The main point of Bernanke's book ...

October 9, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1555924
After Monday’s federal holiday, it's a busy week for economic data.

October 9, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1555923

Some of you might find this interesting:

Resurrecting the Role of the Product Market Wedge in Recessions Mark Bils, Peter J. Klenow, and Benjamin A. Malin: Abstract Employment and hours appear far more cyclical than dictated by the behavior of productivity and consumption. This puzzle has been called “the labor ...

October 9, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1555922
From STR: US results for week ending 3 October

The U.S. hotel industry recorded positive results in the three key performance measurements during the week of 27 September through 3 October 2015, according to data from STR, Inc.

In year-over-year measurements, the industry’s occupancy increased 3.4% to ...

October 9, 2015, 2:34 pm, 1555921

By James Kwak

Hillary Clinton is competing for the nomination of a party whose progressive base thinks, with considerable justification, that her husband is to blame for letting Wall Street run amok—and that Barack Obama, under whom she served, did too little to rein in the bankers who torpedoed the global ...

October 9, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1555917

October 9, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1555916

Conservatives believe creative destruction is good for the economy. Now Republicans will learn if it can work for party politics.

October 9, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1555909

Well, there is just over a week to go until Canada’s federal election and I finally managed to put together another update of the leader Twitter follower numbers I first began looking at with my August 13th post and then August 29th and September ...

October 9, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1555908
Economists expected export prices to drop by 0.2%. Instead they fell 0.7%, outside the range of any Econoday Import/Export Estimate.

A bounce back for petroleum prices helped to limit import-price contraction in September, coming in at only minus 0.1 percent. But contraction in export prices, where agriculture and ...

October 9, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1555857

Some of the features of Bobby Jindal’s recently released tax plan – fewer tax brackets, ending the estate tax, and eliminating itemized deductions – should be familiar from other Republican candidates’ tax plans. But a few elements of Jindal’s plan stand out from the rest of the ...

October 9, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1555856

Taxes are a common theme on news shows in the U.S.; you may have even seen the Tax Foundation’s very own Kyle Pomerleau speaking about the presidential candidates’ tax plans. However, Americans rarely see a sitcom or drama where actors discuss taxes, and why would someone want to infuse ...

October 9, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1555855

Robert Shiller continues to phish for book sales:

Faith in an Unregulated Free Market? Don’t Fall for It: Perhaps the most widely admired of all the economic theories taught in our universities is the notion that an unregulated competitive economy is optimal for everyone. ...

The problem is that these ...

October 9, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1555854

Alan Krueger:

The Minimum Wage: How Much is Too Much?: The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009. While Congress has refused to take action, Democratic politicians have been engaged in something of a bidding war to propose raising the minimum wage ever higher: ...

October 9, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1555847

The veteran forward [Jared Dudley] explained concessions are sometimes necessary and the Suns purposely awarded opponents easy buckets occasionally to speed games up, which he emphasized the Wizards are not considering.

Here is more from Jorge Castillo, who is writing about the desire of the Wizards to speed up ...

October 9, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1555846
This was in my email box this morning, and I thought I’d pass it along:

October 9, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1555845

The US Department of Education (DOE) recently announced the winners of $157 million in grants through the department’s Charter School Program (CSP). The program makes federal funds available “to replicate and expand successful schools; help charter schools find suitable facilities; reward high-quality charter schools that form exemplary collaborations ...

October 9, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1555843

October 9, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1555844

The long-term solution to the problem of Syria is the building of a system of representative and just government. I want to put that out there because I don’t believe that any interim solution that finds some new dictator more to our taste (see: Sisi, Abdel Fattah) will be sustainable.

But ...

October 9, 2015, 11:33 am, 1555842
In recent speeches in European parliament, press articles, or tweets can you tell whether the listed statements below were from the far left or the far right.

Here are the candidates.

Quiz statements below are as presented in Spanish newspaper ...

October 9, 2015, 11:03 am, 1555793
A giant screen displays a drawing titled “Regulating a monopolist” at a news conference last year to announce French economist Jean Tirole as winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize ...

October 9, 2015, 11:03 am, 1555792
At the end of each year, I postTen Economic Questions for the coming year. I followed up with a brief post on each question. The goal was to provide an overview of what I expected in 2015 (I don't have a crystal ball, but I think it ...

October 9, 2015, 10:44 am, 1555791

October 9, 2015, 10:44 am, 1555790

October 9, 2015, 10:34 am, 1555789

Richard Murphy says there is a "near inevitability" of a recession sometime soon. I'm not sure it's wise to make such a prediction.

I wholly agree with him - and with the IMF - that there are reasons to be worried. In fact, ...

October 9, 2015, 10:04 am, 1555787

October 9, 2015, 10:04 am, 1555785

For years, Norway has used revenues from its oil fields to pour monies into its sovereign wealth fund. Now valued at well over $800 billion, the sovereign fund is the globe’s largest.

Since the early 1970s, when oil was first pumped from Norway’s seas, oil and gas extraction has been a ...

October 9, 2015, 10:04 am, 1555786

Months ago, observers believed that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff would manage to hold on to power, despite separate investigations against her administration, campaign and political party.  Even when the lower chamber of the Brazilian National Congress began an open debate last month on allegations against Rousseff, it was not clear ...

October 9, 2015, 8:44 am, 1555736
Congress is considering legislation to lift the ban on exporting American oil. Such sales of U.S. crude to overseas buyers have been largely prohibited since the energy crisis of the 1970s. Here’s what you need to know.

October 9, 2015, 8:44 am, 1555735

October 9, 2015, 8:34 am, 1555734
US economic risk has eased in recent days, according to a markets-based estimate of macro conditions. The Macro-Markets Risk Index (MMRI) closed at +3.9% yesterday (Oct. 8) after slipping into mildly negative territory for brief periods since late-August. MMRI’s recent readings in the red mark the first run of negative ...

October 9, 2015, 8:04 am, 1555732
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from page 150 of Daniel Boorstin’s 1958 volume, The Americans: The Colonial Experience:

When has a culture owed so little ...

October 9, 2015, 7:33 am, 1555728

Heat is terrific. We could use more as good.

October 9, 2015, 7:33 am, 1555727

Former Airplane and Hot Tuna member is 75 and seems to be doing well.

October 9, 2015, 7:33 am, 1555726
Dobrislav Dobrev and Ernst Schaumburg

Sixth in a six-part series
Market efficiency is often pointed to as a main benefit of automated and high-frequency trading (HFT) in ...

October 9, 2015, 7:23 am, 1555725
‘MTurk may be something of an unknown quantity but it is more diverse than the traditional study pool’

October 9, 2015, 6:34 am, 1555694
● Jobless claims near a 42-year low | Reuters ● Fed minutes: 2015 rate hike still on the table | USA Today ● US Consumer Comfort Index rises to 5-month high | Bloomberg ● Slower US retail sales growth expected this holiday season | Mkt Bus ● ECB Minutes: downside ...

October 9, 2015, 5:33 am, 1555692

Some of these I had heard, but not the one about lightning rods.

October 9, 2015, 5:03 am, 1555657

People have had a very hard time waking up in the morning for a very long time, which is why alarm clocks were among the first devices ever invented. In fact, there's a pretty good argument to be made that one of the ...

October 9, 2015, 5:03 am, 1555656

Beat the press:

It’s All Benghazi, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: So Representative Kevin McCarthy, who was supposed to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, won’t be pursuing the job after all. He ... finished off his chances by admitting — boasting, actually — ...

October 9, 2015, 4:44 am, 1555655

There has been lots of discussion about economic growth in developing countries, improved health, and the link between health and growth. But does it matter whether it is men’s or women’s health that is improved? This column argues that it does – targeting health investments on women rather than on ...

October 9, 2015, 4:44 am, 1555654

Economists increasingly stress the importance of investment in intangibles such as human and knowledge capital as a way to stimulate economic growth. This column examines how intangibles contribute to economic growth in Japan and Korea. Though intangible investment has increased in both countries in recent decades, the amount of tangible ...

October 9, 2015, 4:04 am, 1555653
A review of my book Something Will Turn Up, for the Society of Business Economists By Andrew Sentance Something Will Turn Up is a very readable, semi-autobiographical account of the UK’s economic fortunes since the mid-1950s, as seen through...

October 9, 2015, 3:03 am, 1555621

October 9, 2015, 2:04 am, 1555619

Named Robocoach, the fitness-minded cyborg will be deployed to over 20 senior activity centres to help caregivers run exercise classes for residents.

The project is sponsored by Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority as part of the government’s Smart ...

October 9, 2015, 2:04 am, 1555620

That is the new book from Lanny Ebenstein, I found it well-written and useful.  You can read about Henry Simons, the Cowles Commission, Hayek, Jacob Marschak, of course Milton Friedman, and much mmore.  Friedman, by the way, originally had intended to become an actuary.

Here is Friedman on Hayek ...

October 9, 2015, 1:03 am, 1555594
With the Fed focused on inflation, here is an excerpt from Merrill Lynch research piece today on September CPI to be released next week:

We expect headline CPI to decline for the second straight month, growing -0.3% in September after a -0.1% reading for August. Weak energy prices should ...