Reality is distressingly non partisan.
Good Tidings: The unemployment report was... not cheerful, but certainly encouraging. Only 11,000 jobs were lost last month, verses an expected 1110,000 and the previous three month average loss of 135,000 a month. But the long term unemployment count increased 300,000 to 5.9 million and the total unemployment figure at 15.4 million is about equal to the entire working age population of Canada. Average hourly wages and hours worked both ticked up a miniscule amount. Mildly optimistic retailers are hiring a few more seasonal workers than last year. Employment in construction and manufacturing fell, while retail temps and healthcare added jobs. We're still not adding jobs and the employment/population ratio remains 7% below the 20 year average. Worst of all, amid the good cheer, unemployment is set to remain very high for many years, but statistics like today's will be used to prevent further coddling of the unemployed. [I am bothered by the huge variance between expectations and the published data. Hope they kept the receipt.]
Sounds Good, But: The Treasury has sold the 12.7 million warrants in Capital One Financial which it got in return for TARP funds, for $146.5 million. Cool, until you learn that they were valued at $376 million.
Oilbama Explained: Remember Unocal? And Condi Rice? And the trans-Afghan pipeline? Here's a refresher from 2002 on the way the Great Game unfolds.
Just Like in the Movies: At The Dallas News, editors will now report to the sales managers. This notice appears as a public service, because the sales managers did not think this was the sort of news that was fit to print.
Training: Traffic on the nation's rail system continues to decline. Intermodal traffic was down 6.4% last week and down 32% from the same period in 2007. The unemployment figures may be a tad better, but they're not working on the railroad.
From the Horse's Mouth: Bernanke told the Senate that they must do “something about getting entitlements under control and reducing the costs, particularly of health care." He went on to point out that Medicare and Social Security are “only mandatory until Congress says it's not mandatory.” He went on to dismiss the idea of a second stimulus package to create jobs. Someone should remind Ben he was appointed to the Fed, not elected
to make policy decisions, and he might want some help getting a job soon, too.
Anomaly: The day after the EIA's weekly petroleum report says demand is down and supplies up, Colonial Pipeline said that orders for gasoline shipment to the East Coast exceed the company's ability to deliver.
Interesting, Very Interesting: The Fed's $300 billion purchase of Treasury notes and its purchases of mortgage-backed securities have lowered interest rates by at least 1.5 percentage points. Wonder how the housing market would do with mortgages at 6.5%?
Weekend Reading: “ America today has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security. Going to college and finding a good job no longer guarantee economic safety. Paying for a child's education and setting aside enough for a decent retirement have become distant dreams. Tens of millions of once-secure middle class families now live paycheck to paycheck, watching as their debts pile up and worrying about whether a pink slip or a bad diagnosis will send them hurtling over an economic cliff. America without a strong middle class? Unthinkable, but the once-solid foundation is shaking.” Read the whole thing, “The End of the Middle Class”, by Elizabeth Warren, the plainspoken chair of The TARP Congressional Oversight Panel.
Choices: “Sulphonylureas, a type of drug widely used to treat type 2 diabetes, carries a greater risk of heart failure and death compared with metformin, another popular anti-diabetes drug.” A number of us should discuss this research with our doctors.
Wink & Nod: Wisconsin's Commissioner of Insurance has agreed to let Mortgage Guarantee Insurance - the biggest US mortgage insurer - continue selling policies nationwide even though it does not meet the basic capital requirements to do so.
Porn O'Graph: Bottoms up?