FURTHER FURTHER READING
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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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 spaceComment 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