The mysterious decline in the number of US public companies

A new paper from Craig Doidge, G Andrew Karolyi, and René M Stulz investigates the reasons why the number of publicly listed US companies peaked in 1996, even as the number of publicly listed foreign firms climbed.

From the study:

The number of U.S. listings fell from 8,025 in 1996 to 4,101 in 2012, whereas non-U.S. listings increased from 30,734 to 39,427.

(Click to enlarge, and careful with the dual Y-axes.) Read more

Alphachat: the podcast moment, and some recommendations

(Here’s the ubiquitous emergency link in case anyone suffers from tech bork, and the embedded podcast doesn’t appear.)

The latest Alphachat is a discussion about the business of podcasting with FT media correspondent Shannon Bond and Buzzfeed’s Nick Quah, both of whom also offer a few recommendations for FT readers at the end of conversation. Nick writes Hot Pod, an excellent weekly newsletter that chronicles ongoing events in the podcasting world, aggregating the big stories of the week and adding his own reporting and critical commentary.

A time guide below, and a few additional notes after: Read more

The maddening conundrum-redux conundrum

Imagine watching someone earnestly trying to evaluate his body’s shape just by staring at a full length carnival mirror.

The mirror reflects back a distorted image. But the distortions cause the person to move, seeking a better reflection in a part of the mirror that is less distorted. Yet moving to look at a different part of the mirror only distorts a different part of the reflection. And given that this is his only mirror, how does he know which parts are distorted and which are accurate in the first place?

To witness such slapstick nonsense is like trying to observe the relationship between the economy and the yield curve.

 Read more

Video: Automation, jobs and history

I started babbling with a camera in front of me and a green screen behind me, and then FT video producer Chris Booker employed his usual wizardry to make sense of it all. Read more

Reminder: US Macro Live special edition, Fed presser edition

Matt “Macro” Klein and I will be hosting Macro Live for Wednesday afternoon’s FOMC presser. We’ll start at 2:25pm EST (7:25pm in London), and you’ll find us at this link, our usual spot. See you there!

For a preview, here’s an excerpt from a recent piece by Sam-I-am Fleming, who will be repping the FT at the presser: Read more

Jobs, automation, Engels’ pause and the limits of history

Here’s a story that you may have heard.

Median wages and living standards are stagnant, and by some measures they have worsened, having decoupled from productivity growth for several decades. Read more

Unemployment rate now grazing the Fed’s Nairu central tendency range

Having fallen to 5.5 per cent, the US unemployment rate now touches the high end of the central tendency range of the Fed’s long-run estimate — its proxy for the non-accelerating rate inflation rate of unemployment. Read more

US equity market stat du jour

There were $118 billion of buyback authorizations in February, a 48% increase versus February of 2014 ($80 bln).

February was the strongest month ever and 2015 was the strongest start to the year ever with $152 billion of authorizations recorded year-to-date. We recorded 139 authorizations, which was virtually even with the same period in 2014 (141). Read more

More on the 1 per cent and US inequality since the crisis

Following up on a recent discussion within the economics commentariat (to which we contributed), we emailed economist Ed Wolff to request a further breakdown of his findings on changes in US income and wealth inequality.

Wolff’s analyses data from the Fed’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, which considers pre-tax income but does include government transfers. You can read our earlier posts on his work here and hereRead more

US inequality and its dissed contents

The issue of whether US inequality has climbed since the recession of 2008 has been relitigated this week. A short analysis by Stephen Rose claimed that income inequality had actually fallen, assigning the credit to public policy.

David Leonhardt of the New York Times discussed Rose’s findings, followed by further analyses and critiques from Ben Walsh and Nick Bunker. I’ll present the findings first before adding my own thoughts at the end. Read more

Auto-finance, an update

We’ve been reading through the exhaustive new report from Citi on the noticeable impact of automation on the labour markets of several industries, and we came across a finance-related section that’s worth passing along.

It offers an update on the relative progress within the industry of moving various products to electronic trading platforms (emphasis ours, and click to enlarge the chart): Read more

Video: the welcome, belated backlash to the open-plan office

I really like my colleagues at the FT, but I spend at least half my working hours wishing they would stop talking. Pipe down. Not quite STFU but at least be mindful of making a racket. Read more

US labour compensation update

Earlier in January we refrained from commenting on the disappointing US wage figures in the December employment situation report.

The quarterly-released Employment Cost Index, as we and many others have noted, is a more comprehensive measure of labour compensation growth — better reflecting overall compensation and, as a fixed-weight measure, adjusting for shifts in employment categories. And we knew the Q4 numbers would follow the December jobs report a few weeks later — though not, sadly, in time for the Fed’s meeting last week.

The latest ECI was released Friday morning, and three quick points follow. Read more

US Treasury yields and shrinkage, sovereign bond availability edition

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the only one needed, and in economics it doesn’t get much simpler than supply and demand.

Competing reasons have been offered for the sustained, vigorous decline in 10-year and long-dated US Treasury yields despite the acceleration in the economic recovery since last spring. Most recently the sharp drop in yields has coincided with the stunning fall in oil and long-term inflation expectations, which boost real yields and thus make Treasuries more appealing. Read more

The Fed, the statement and the Nairu

Today’s FOMC statement should be about as shocking as the ending of The Sixth Sense.

Wait, you were genuinely surprised that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time? Fine, about as shocking as the final scene of The Usual Suspects then. Read more

Five scattered points about oil, crises, Keystone and other stuff

Some thoughts, musings, and simply fun items we’ve recently come across:

1) As of the start of this week, global non-energy equities have held up fine: Read more

Econo-yakking (observations from the AEA conference)

The annual conference hosted by the American Economics Association offers so many panels and paper discussions, on such a wide variety of topics, that there is something for everyone during each two-hour slot of time.

Should one follow the crowd to Mankiw vs Piketty on the importance of r > g (which got colourful), or get funky and check out Experimental Finance and Neuroeconomics? Read more

US Markets Live, special FOMC presser edition

Live markets commentary from 

FOMC statement from 17 December 2014

Remember that we’ll be hosting a special edition of US Markets Live starting at 2:25pm EST. Join us here.

The highlights from the statement, which we’ll update as we make our way through it: Read more

Reminder: US Markets Live, special FOMC presser edition

Joseph and I will be kicking off at 2:25pm EST (7:25pm in London) at the usual place. We’ll have a few minutes to discuss the statement before the presser starts at 2:30pm.

Join us at the usual placeRead more

Will US household formation growth finally accelerate in 2015?

Have we been early or just wrong? Read more

The oddly subdued optimism about falling oil prices

Our pal Josh Brown has a hilarious post highlighting the pessimism bias in how the fall of oil prices has been discussed in the US:

This past June, crude oil prices were hitting highs above $110 a barrel and the narrative was that this was why stocks were selling off. The S&P 500 had a weekly correlation of .55 with oil, meanwhile, and had actually spent most of the year rising with it. So not only was the “story” of why stocks were dropping false, the data was as well. Read more

The Fed and oil: 2014 is not 2011 in reverse

Back in 2011, inflation climbed above the Fed’s 2 per cent target, but the FOMC resisted the impulse to tighten monetary conditions. Long-run inflation expectations hadn’t risen to worrying levels, and Ben Bernanke perceived that a price spike led by oil was likely to be “transitory”.

No surprise there: he wrote the paper on this very topic. And he was proved right. Read more

Oil and Fed officials, in their own words

A handy chart from BCA Research (click to embiggen):

 Read more

The economic effects of the Obama immigration order

The first thing to be said about the macroeconomic impact of Obama’s executive order on immigration is that it will be small but not trivial.

The second thing to be said is that although the impact will be small, it will also be positive. Read more

Inequality and the portfolio flux

Split in half the six years from the start of the US recession at the end of 2007 through the end of last year, and consider them as a pair of three-year periods.

In the first period — from 2007 through 2010, and which we’ll refer to as the crisis years — wealth inequality in the US spiked while income inequality actually contracted quite aggressively, the latter a reversal of the pre-recession trend. “Crisis years” isn’t a perfect label, as the recession actually ended in mid-2009, but it’s good enough for our purposes here. Read more

The decline in the share of uninsured Americans

Jason Furman chairs the president’s Council of Economic Advisors and therefore has an obvious incentive to present the Obama administration’s policy outcomes in the best light, but nonetheless this chart from his recent speech is striking:

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The October jobs report tells the story of two streaks

The first streak: October marks the 49th consecutive month of positive US jobs creation, the longest such period since the second world war.

Superficially this sounds impressive, and very much a good thing. But it isn’t, really. Read more

We are hosting a New York pub quiz and drinks!

FT Alphaville and the FT’s US markets team are hosting a night of drinks and trivia in New York on the evening of Wednesday, November 19th.

The last time we did this (in London), we grilled you on the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the complexities of synthetic ETFs, seasonal adjustments in economic indicators, and other proudly nerdy topics. Read more

The Closer, final edition

To our readers, thanks so much for subscribing to The Closer. This is the final daily email from FT Alphaville, but you can continue receiving expertly curated missives from the Financial Times via First FT. We encourage you to have a look and subscribe. Thanks again!