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Hi, I’m looking for someone who completes me and… wait, I’m being told that this isn’t an online dating profile. And that I should keep it professional. And put on a shirt.

Born and raised in Tampa, university at Georgetown, and with the exception of a year spent backpacking abroad I’ve been in New York for the past decade. Before joining Alphaville I spent a little more than two years as a reporter at Dow Jones Financial News covering investment banking, asset management, and private equity. Along the way I’ve written freelance pieces on a variety of other topics from behavioural psychology to Muay Thai, the latter also being a personal interest that involves frequently getting kicked in the shins (and torso, and head). When my guard is down I’ll admit to having attended journalism school.

Prior to becoming a journalist, I was an analyst for three years at the JPMorgan Private Bank. I worked for a team that had clients in Mexico and the Southern Cone, and I ran an internal newsletter for other analysts at the bank, overseeing a small staff.

My family is Cuban, and I was brought up in a Spanish-speaking household where everyone forgot about the earlier traumatic migration to a new country, keeping the same daily customs as if it had never happened. (Which was fine, except for the part where I didn’t know any English when I started kindergarten. That was a stressful three or four months until I caught up.)

I tend to write mostly about US macroeconomic issues, with daily excursions into other topics. Find me also on Tumblr and every now and again I’m one of the reporters interviewed on the Marketplace Weekly Wrap.

Contact Cardiff Garcia

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- How much trading should there be? Read more

The remarkable productivity stagnation of the US construction sector

For the nearly half-century through 2012, annual labour productivity growth in the US construction sector averaged close to zero, and it has been negative for the past two decades.

Here’s a graph constructed last year by Paul Teicholz, a civil engineer who has been working on construction technology issues for a long time and who produced the best concise analysis of the sector’s productivity that I’ve come across: Read more

Further further reading

- The output gap is a flawed and potentially dangerous concept.

- Who bears “Federal Reserve risk“? Read more

Takeaways from the minutes to the March 18-19 FOMC meeting

Our brief thoughts on the FOMC minutes:

1) When Janet Yellen said at the FOMC presser that the public, in thinking about the future path of short rates, should mind the FOMC statement rather than the dots in the Summary of Economic Projections, she was simply reaffirming what had already been discussed during the meeting. What the minutes don’t explain very well is just why “the increase in the median projection overstated the shift in the projections”. In any case, the point remains that Yellen would rather the dots be considered a secondary communications tool. Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- Why those guys won the economics NobelsRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

-”When is it ethical to hand our decisions over to machines? And when is external automation a step too far?” Read more

Readings from the book of Sam

After a half-century with the FT, Sir Samuel Brittan retired last week, signing off with a valedictory essay and video chat.

I was new to journalism when a friend bought for me Against the Flow, a collection of Brittan’s essays published in 2005. My friend thought I might enjoy the book based on an enthusiastic review in The Economist, which proclaimed it “so good that rivals in the field will, like this reviewer, put it down not knowing whether to feel inspiration or despair”. Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- The highest-ranking American airport (Cincinnati) is 27th in the world. Read more

Yellen: four pieces of evidence of slack in the US labour market

From her speech in Chicago:

One form of evidence for slack is found in other labor market data, beyond the unemployment rate or payrolls, some of which I have touched on already. For example, the seven million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job. This number is much larger than we would expect at 6.7 percent unemployment, based on past experience, and the existence of such a large pool of “partly unemployed” workers is a sign that labor conditions are worse than indicated by the unemployment rate. Statistics on job turnover also point to considerable slack in the labor market. Although firms are now laying off fewer workers, they have been reluctant to increase the pace of hiring. Likewise, the number of people who voluntarily quit their jobs is noticeably below levels before the recession; that is an indicator that people are reluctant to risk leaving their jobs because they worry that it will be hard to find another. It is also a sign that firms may not be recruiting very aggressively to hire workers away from their competitors. Read more

The capex call

Like other parts of the US economic recovery — housing, the labour market — capital expenditures by companies have been a letdown recently, even accounting for the weather.

The latest example came in Wednesday’s durable goods report, in which the “nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft” component fell. (That figure is a proxy and obviously doesn’t capture everything that normally counts as capex, which also includes investment in property and structures, imported capital goods, and certain intangible assets. Capex is often poorly or loosely defined in discussions about it.) Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- Wired on the fierce battle for the soul of BitcoinRead more

The endless(ly sluggish) US expansion

Jared Bernstein posts the chart above and notes that the US expansion is “getting on in years relative to all the others since the mid-40s”, though he’s also careful to note the large amount of variability around this figure.

This reminded us of two notes from earlier this year on the length and durability of the US recovery, written by two different sets of economists at Goldman Sachs. Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- The loneliness of a Kiev bond traderRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- Economics and the foundations of artificial intelligenceRead more

Yellen’s words vs what you heard

The thresholds had a one-time gig, doing their job so well that they made themselves obsolete. How very New Economy of them.

Well, sort of. According to Janet Yellen’s reasoning for having ditched the thresholds as a part of the Fed’s forward guidance, they served their purpose at a time when it still seemed possible that inflation would climb above the Fed’s target even while the unemployment rate was still well above its natural level. Their presence was meant to reassure markets that the Fed wouldn’t rush to tighten in such a scenario, and in the meantime they also communicated to markets that policy was data contingent rather than calendar-based. Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- The battle of China’s two tech titans. Make that three.  Read more

FOMC statement, 18 March 2014

A reminder that we’ll be covering Janet Yellen’s presser in real time on Markets Live starting at 2:25pm EST (6:25pm in London).

A few quick points, which we’ll add to as we make our way through it: Read more

US Markets Live today, special Janet Yellen first presser edition

Tune in at 2:25pm EST (6:25pm in London) today for a special edition of US Markets Live and join the rabble to watch Janet Yellen be grilled post-meeting by our colleagues in the media.

As usual we recommend the preview by our man in DC, Robin “Hip Specs” Harding. Read more

In search of agreement on slack and the Fed

Just here for a bit of gap-bridging. Peacemaking. Common ground finding.

Evan Soltas and Robin Harding last week offered strong challenges to the try risking an overshoot argument made by Ryan Avent and meRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- James Suroweicki: “The real irony of our forecasting boom is that as fortune-tellers proliferate, fortunes become harder to read.” Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- Your job taught to machinesRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- Five things to know about income inequalityRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- “Worried about immigration? Wait till I tell you about young people…” Read more

Known unknowns about labour market slack

Here are questions to which the answers remain disputed:

1) To what extent will discouraged workers return to the labour force if the economic recovery accelerates? Read more

Quits lacking => slacking?

Remember the Yellen labour market dashboard?

Two of the five indicators she watched carefully before she became Fed chair are in the Jolts report, one of which is the quits rate (the hiring rate is the other). Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- The US now has the fewest government workers since 2001. Read more

We knew this day would co… wait never mind the day hasn’t come yet

If Janet Yellen and the FOMC are breathing a sigh of relief after today’s jobs report, it’s probably just a very shallow sigh.

In the household survey, the unemployment rate inched back up to 6.7 per cent because of both new entrants to the labour force and weak employment growth. The Fed will certainly discuss at length how to change forward guidance at their meeting later this month, though they won’t have to discuss it with the rate having already crossed the 6.5 per cent threshold. Read more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- How Google et al are legitimising the robotics business with their purchases.

- The FT’s Pinterest with Big Interviews.

- Introducing AirPnPRead more

The Closer

FURTHER FURTHER READING

- David Wessell’s three questions on the Fed and financial stabilityRead more

Jobs of the future and the gender-norm challenge

Women hold about 60 per cent of the total jobs in the thirty occupations projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to have the most net job growth in the decade through 2022.

That figure was calculated* recently by the National Women’s Law Center, which adds that eighteen of those thirty occupations are “female dominated, with workforces that are 60 per cent or more female”. Read more

@Terra_Desolata, @don_quichotte, both good points. To be honest, there's a lot about this that I just don't understand very well. Hoping this post brings some possible answers.

@Justin, don't know if anyone has crunched the numbers for other countries, but the link embedded in the last par of this post might help.

Comment on: The remarkable productivity stagnation of the US construction sector

(nothing personal, stick around)

Comment on: US Markets Live, Yellen first presser

paver, sorry, had to eliminate that because it was taking up too much space

Comment on: US Markets Live, Yellen first presser

@Phil_20686, both interesting points.

@Bkrasting, thanks for your comment and for reading Alphaville. But as a heads up, I'm an American and live in New York, not London. I've lived in nearly all of the places you've mentioned. I also grew up in Florida -- split between Tampa and Miami -- and visit family in both places quite often. I'm quite familiar with the real estate markets in Florida.

Comment on: In search of agreement on slack and the Fed

@marquez1234, thanks very much for this comment.

Comment on: A Puerto Rico downgrade cheat sheet

@Blah, @beepbop, it's satire -- and a bit of levity on Friday afternoon is harmless, surely.

Comment on: The Ultimate Stimulus

@muad'dib, My wording was imprecise, so just to be clear, Yellen is *my* endorsed pick, not anyone else's. Otherwise, FT Alphaville doesn't have an explicit endorsement policy. As for my own endorsement policy, well, I guess I just endorse whoever I think best for a position. That's when I make an endorsement at all, which is very rare.

Comment on: Summers to Obama: "I am writing to withdraw my name for consideration..."

Hi @StellaCB, thanks as always for the comment.

I'm basing all this on Section 806(c) of Dodd-Frank, which reads as follows: "(c) EARNINGS ON FEDERAL RESERVE BALANCES.—A Federal Reserve Bank may pay earnings on balances maintained by or on behalf of a designated financial market utility in the same manner and to the same extent as the Federal Reserve Bank may pay earnings to a depository institution under the Federal Reserve Act, subject to any applicable rules, orders, standards, or guidelines prescribed by the Board of Governors."

Comment on: Fed ponders widening its bear hug to let in FMUs

@RDD, thanks for the note. I've updated and the link should work now.

Comment on: The Closer

Thanks to everyone for your comments. As I said at the top, I do think that employers have too much power in the current system, which is why it would be wonderful for employees on H-1Bs to be able to use it across companies. Please don't confuse my saying that a more-liberalised policy is preferable to the status quo with saying that what is being offered is ideal. It isn't.

Certainly I don't mean to diminish any instances where abuse has taken place -- and if anything, those of us who do want more immigration have an added obligation to be sensitive to this issue.

@Dave, it's fine for you to say that I'm mistaken, but accusations of lying don't really do anyone any good.

Comment on: Employer power, high-skill immigration and what we're really talking about