Posts tagged 'Productivity'

Crush the financial sector, end the great stagnation?

Productivity growth in the rich world started slowing down around the same time that the financial sector’s share of economic activity started rising rapidly. A new paper from the Bank for International Settlements suggests a causal connection.

First, the high salaries commanded in the financial sector — much of which can be attributed to too-big-to-fail subsidies and other forms of rent extraction — make it harder for genuinely innovative firms to hire researchers and invest in new technologies. 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

A cheap peak for a FTSE streak

Pop quiz – what was the price earnings ratio for the UK benchmark at its previous peak of 6,722 in October 2007?

We ask because the FTSE 100, now slightly higher, is near as dammit at the same valuation once again. But the real surprise is perhaps the lowly level of that ratio. Read more

US multifactor productivity growth, charted, prognosticated

The chart comes via Michael Mandel’s new paper.

As always with productivity growth numbers, the usual caveats about residual measures apply. That goes double for multifactor productivity growth, aka total factor productivity growth, which is a residual of a residual. Read more

The mystery of UK slack

As Mark Carney outlined at Wednesday’s press conference for the BoE inflation report, much-awaited ‘forward guidance’ will be linked to unemployment falling through the 7 per cent level. But it will also in some sense be related to the committee’s evaluation of how much slack there is in the economy.

Or rather, they’re linking rates to unemployment (targeting, in everyone else’s book) because they can’t explicitly target slack. Read more

US productivity growth, back to form

Overall, we conclude that the U.S. productivity resurgence is likely to continue and is unlikely to revert to the sluggish pace of the 1970s and 1980s. This optimism reflects the observation that the fundamental drivers of the productivity gains—such as technological progress in information technology, a growing share of IT production, and a more competitive and deregulated economy—remain firmly in place. …

– NY Fed research note, December 2004 Read more

Productivity, “reindustrialisation” and the US profit share

US industrial production has grown at least twice as fast as GDP since the start of the recovery.

Onshoring” work because wage differentials are narrowing plus falling electricity prices because of shale gas = more growth, so… great! Maybe? Read more

UK productivity puzzle possibly solved?

Hugh Small is an independent economic analyst and management consultant, who was formerly with US-based firms Arthur D. Little and A. T. Kearney. He blogs at mature, and has a running thesis that mature economies must be assessed differently to developing economies because they share very different strategic goals.

Furthermore, once you factor in the subtle differences that apply to developed economies, things like the UK productivity puzzle begin to look a little less mysterious. Read more

Mismeasuring UK GDP

The preliminary UK GDP estimate for the fourth quarter is out and it looks like there’s been a return to err.. contraction.

Via the ONS:

GDP was estimated to have decreased by 0.3% in Q4 2012 compared with Q3 2012. Output of the production industries was estimated to have decreased by 1.8% in Q4 2012 compared with Q3 2012, following an increase of 0.7% between Q2 2012 and Q3 2012.

 Read more

Recoveryless jobbification

Some might say it’s labour hoarding; some might say it’s “flexibility”; some might say it’s the gutting of the City. Many would think the UK productivity puzzle goes on, and some would just ponder the strong showing of full-time jobs in the latest figures.

Here’s the view from Nomura’s Philip Rush, with some charts (click to enlarge)… Read more

On the long-lasting hit to UK productivity

Let’s look at the latest from the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility (our emphasis):

The combination of more robust employment and much weaker GDP growth than we expected together create a significant ‘productivity puzzle’. Output per hour is much weaker than in previous cycles and than in our June 2010 forecast. Several explanations for the puzzle have been put forward and although we believe that some of the weakness of productivity relative to the pre-crisis trend is likely to be a temporary phenomenon, we also assume that a significant proportion of the hit is likely to be permanent or long-lastingRead more

HSBC: This is now about structural woe

If you’re seeking a counter view to the one expressed on Thursday by a Bear in a Bath, look no further than the latest note from Stephen King’s team at HSBC.

Some great stuff from the global head of economics today, including thoughts about the UK’s productivity puzzle, the US jobless recovery, the pointlessness of QE and whether a structural shift may under way. Read more

The decline or the redefinition of labour?

Felix Salmon at Reuters has picked up on the following chart from Margaret Jacobson and Filippo Ochhino at the Cleveland Fed:

 Read more

The BoE on Britain’s productivity puzzle

The minutes to the Bank of England’s September meeting are out, and we can’t help being drawn to the following comments about the UK’s labour productivity puzzle (our emphasis):

The labour market had remained surprisingly resilient in the face of the contraction in activity. The unemployment rate had fallen to 8% in the second quarter, its lowest level for around a year, and employment was estimated to have risen by more than 200,000, with a rise in permanent employees accounting for more than half the increase. Read more

Are UK companies hoarding labour?

Something of a puzzle is emerging in the UK’s labour market.

The overall employment picture is definitely improving. According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, the economy added more than 431,000 new jobs in the past year and the employment rate is now considered to be relatively high. At the same time, however, there’s no doubt that labour productivity has been falling — quite the opposite to the picture in the US, where productivity has been rising sharply. Read more

Time to resurrect the ‘missing variable’?

Anyone who has watched the 2011 Adam Curtis documentary series “All watched over by machines of loving grace” will remember the bit about Alan Greenspan becoming confused about America’s exceptional growth in the 1990s.

At the time, the data didn’t seem to fit the prevailing reality. The incredible and seemingly unstoppable growth Greenspan was seeing on the ground was at odds with his economic models, which instead were signalling an imminent rebalancing on the back of wage pressures and implied inflation. Read more

Productivity post-paradox

We noted in an earlier post that an optimistic near-term scenario for US employment would likely mean productivity growth remaining at its depressed rate for a little while.

The alternative — productivity growth returning back up to pre-crisis trend — would have to coincide with sluggish employment growth unless economic growth were to pick up significantly. Read more

When productivity normalises

As you’ll find in an economics textbook, labour productivity growth is driven by some combination of:

1) improvements in human capital, such as a more-educated or more-experienced workforce, Read more