The jobs market consists of employees and employers searching for and trying to attain a match for employment within a firm. The jobs market is not static, but is constantly changing as the needs of companies change over time. New technology means a different skill level in the workforce, demanding people within the jobs market upgrade their skills to remain employable. Conversely, if there is a shortage of workers in a specific area, then wages will rise for that sector. As with any market, the price (wages) is set by supply and demand.
It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of another year. It seems as though the move into 2013 was just yesterday. I was bullish at the start of the year, but I was not expecting the kind of stock market advances we have seen with the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 up more than 30% and the S&P 500 nearing that level with multiple record-highs.
Recently, I wrote about the need to ride the current market higher, as the signs point to more upside moves ahead. (Read “Why Stocks Likely to Head Higher into the New Year.”) But at the same time, I remain nervous about the vulnerability of the stock market.
The soft results from what was pumped up as a killer Black Friday failed to materialize, as sales on the Thanksgiving weekend fell 2.7% year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF did estimate sales during the next few weeks prior to Christmas could rise 3.9%, but while it may pan out, it will only do so because of heavy discounting to clear inventory.
What continues to linger on my mind is the fact that we have yet to see a correction of 10% or more during this four-year bull market, which began in March 2009. This makes me nervous.
Robert Shiller, who was one of three Americans who just won the 2013 Nobel prize for economics, believes there is a bubble in the U.S. stock market, especially given the run-up in stocks in spite of what has been a fragile economic recovery. (Source: Clinch, M., “Nobel Prize winner warns of … Read More
Black Friday is less than two weeks away, and I sense there’s increasing nervousness in the retail sector. For some, this weekend of spending accounts for over 50% of annual sales.
Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE/M) reported a strong fiscal first quarter in which it beat the Thomson Financial earnings-per-share (EPS) consensus estimate by $0.08 per diluted share or 20%. But while Macy’s offers investors some hope, the good news was short-lived, as the stock’s results may have had more to do with the company’s own success than a strong retail sector.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT) and Kohls Corporation (NYSE/KSS) followed suit with soft reports that left investors worried about the strength of the holiday shopping season.
In the case of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer reported a 0.1% decline in comparable U.S. store sales (without fuel) for the 13 weeks ended October 25, down from 1.7% growth a year earlier. For the 39 weeks ended October 25, Wal-Mart saw its U.S. sales contract by 0.4%, versus 2.4% growth in the year-earlier period. The result from Wal-Mart raises some red flags for the retail sector as we head into what is the most critical shopping time of the year.
Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, noted in the company’s quarterly report that the retail sector is “competitive.”
Wal-Mart also doesn’t appear to be too optimistic going forward and that makes me nervous, since the company is a good barometer … Read More
The strong jobs market report last week started the chatter again that the Federal Reserve would start to reduce the pace of its quantitative easing program. Some have said the Fed will reduce the amount of its asset purchases as early as December, while others are saying the quantitative easing will start to diminish by March 2014.
I have a different opinion: I believe the Federal Reserve can’t stop quantitative easing, because the market has become so dependent on it. If the Fed does go ahead with a pullback on money printing, the consequences will not be pleasant.
I made a very similar prediction last time when we heard a significant amount of “noise” about the Federal Reserve pulling back on its asset purchases. My predictions were right, and nothing has changed since then. The Federal Reserve continues to buy $85.0 billion worth of U.S. bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) a month.
Please see the chart below to see why I believe the Federal Reserve just can’t walk away from quantitative easing without causing massive damage.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
In May, when the Federal Reserve hinted it might be reducing the pace of its asset purchases, we saw a spike in bond yields with the 30-year U.S. Treasury rising from about 2.8% to as high as 3.9% in a very short period of time. Then we heard the Fed would not be tapering as was expected and bond yields settled and started trading in a range. Now, with the jobs market report perceived as good (first time we created over 200,000 new jobs in months), bond yields started rising … Read More
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the global economy to increase by 2.9% this year and 3.6% in 2014—forecasts which I believe are too optimistic. Why?
First of all, we have the Japanese economy, the third-biggest in the global economy, suffering an economic slowdown. Tertiary industry activity (activity in the service businesses) slowed in September from a month ago. (Source: Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, November 12, 2013.)
Then there’s Germany, the fourth-biggest economy in the global economy. Once believed to be immune to the economic slowdown in the eurozone, seasonally adjusted manufacturing output in the country declined 0.8% in September from August. As of September, year-to-date manufacturing output in the German economy has increased only 1.2%—a much slower growth rate than in the same period of 2012. (Source: Destatis, November 8, 2013.)
Earlier this month, in a statement about its monetary policy decision, the central bank of Australia said, “In Australia, the economy has been growing a bit below trend over the past year and the unemployment rate has edged higher. This is likely to persist in the near term… Public spending is forecast to be quite weak.” (Source: “Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision,” Reserve Bank of Australia, November 5, 2013.)
To fight the economic slowdown in the country, the Reserve Bank of Australia is using easy monetary policy measures. The central bank has reduced its benchmark interest rate in the country by more than 40% since the beginning of 2012. The cash rate, the overnight money market interest rate, sits at 2.50% compared to 4.25% in early 2012. (Source: Reserve Bank of Australia … Read More
This morning, we heard from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about the jobs market situation in the U.S. economy. It said the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.3% in October, compared to 7.2% in September. In October, 204,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 8, 2013.)
Finally, a month in which more than 200,000 jobs were created! But not so fast…
The underemployment rate (which includes people who have given up looking for work and people who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs) actually jumped in October to 13.8%—it stood at 13.6% in September!
And, as we have become accustomed to, in the jobs market report, we see low-wage-paying jobs accounted for most of the new jobs in the U.S. economy in October: 44,000 jobs were created in the retail trade, 53,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, and 15,000 jobs in health care. Combined, these low-paying jobs made up 55% of all the jobs created in October!
Jobs which provide a decent salary didn’t see much growth from what we can see in the October jobs market report. Jobs in the traditional high-paying construction, mining/logging, wholesale trade, transportation/warehousing, information, and financial sectors lagged and showed next to no change in growth in October.
The table below, which I have created for my readers, shows the change in manufacturing employment in the U.S. economy since February 2013. So far, until this past September, 2,000 manufacturing jobs were wiped out this year.
Growth in U.S. Manufacturing Jobs,
Feb. to Sept. 2013
All Employees in Manufacturing
Employment Change from Previous
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