The BLS Employment Situation Summary for December 2013

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 13th, 2014

Economics 101

The Labor Force Participation Rate has Fallen Steadily since President Obama became President

Ever since the recovery summer of 2010 the Obama administration has told us the recession was over.  And his policies were creating one heck of an economic recovery.  Backed up by all those glowing monthly jobs reports. Like the December 2013 jobs report (see Employment Situation Summary posted 1/10/2014 on the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The unemployment rate declined from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent in December, while total nonfarm payroll employment edged up (+74,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The unemployment rate is down.  And new jobs were created.  Again.  Jobs report after jobs report it’s the same thing.  The administration touts the falling unemployment rate and new job creation as confirmation that their economic policies are working.  Even though it’s been 5 years.  And the economy is still in the toilet.  Despite that falling unemployment rate.  For there is a reason why the unemployment rate is falling.  And it has nothing to do with an economic activity.

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent in December… The labor force participation rate declined by 0.8 percentage point over the year…

In fact, the labor force participation rate has fallen steadily since President Obama became president.  This is not good.  In fact, it’s very bad.  Because it means that under President Obama’s economic policies more people have left the labor force than entered or remained in it.  Meaning that his economic policies have caused a net loss of jobs throughout his presidency.

The U-6 Unemployment Rate is Closer to the Bitter Sentiment of Job Seekers in the Current Economic Climate

In January of 2009 when President Obama began his presidency there were 80,507,000 people not in the labor force.  At the end of December 2013 that number grew to 91,808,000.  Subtracting one from the other and you get 11,301,000 people that have left the labor force since President Obama entered office.  Because his policies destroyed 11,301,000 jobs.  And because these people couldn’t find new jobs they just gave up looking.  Which is why the unemployment rate keeps falling.

So you can talk of new jobs created.  And a falling unemployment rate.  But those numbers don’t reflect the 11,301,000 jobs President Obama destroyed with his policies.  Which comes to 260,200 jobs lost per year.  Or 188,350 each month.  Which is a lot more than the 74,000 new jobs.  In fact, if you look at the change in the number of people not in the labor force from November to December of 2013 you’ll see that 525,000 people left the labor force.  So the December jobs lost is about 2.8 times the average jobs lost during the Obama presidency.  And giving a ratio of about 7 jobs lost for every new job created in December.  Making December a horrible month for jobs.  Much worse than the 6.7% unemployment rate would have us believe.

The funny thing about the official unemployment rate is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t count people who quit looking for a job.  Or who are working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job.  If we want an alternative measure of labor underutilization (that counts more people who can’t find a full-time job) we should look at the U-6 unemployment rate.  We can find this number in the same BLS jobs report (in Table A-15).  Which was 13.1% for December 2013.  An unemployment rate much closer to the bitter sentiment of job seekers in the current economic climate.

We will have to Wait through many more Bad Jobs Reports before we can Enjoy a Healthy Economy Again

The Employment Situation Summary confirms the horrible economy.  Though misleading with these falling unemployment rates the real economic picture is still in these reports.  All you have to do is look for them.  And understand what they mean.  For example:

In December, job gains occurred in retail trade and wholesale trade…

Employment in retail trade rose by 55,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains occurred in food and beverage stores (+12,000), clothing and accessories stores (+12,000), general merchandise stores (+8,000), and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+7,000)…

In December, wholesale trade added 15,000 jobs. Most of the job growth occurred in electronic markets and agents and brokers (+9,000).

Note that of the 74,000 new jobs 70,000 (94.6%) of them were in retail and wholesale trade.  Which is not surprising when you consider what’s in December.  Christmas.  (While near-zero interest rates sold cars to people who would otherwise not buy them.)  The final sprint of retailers for the year.  And when many of them go firmly into the black.  But while the Christmas surge on employment was underway other sectors did not fare as well.

Within the [professional and business services] industry, temporary help services added 40,000 jobs in December, while employment in accounting and bookkeeping services declined by 25,000.

Businesses add temporary workers when they have a surge in sales they believe won’t last.  And don’t want to have more permanent workers on their payroll when that surge in sales ends.  For it is easier to let temps go than full-time workers.  And less costly.  Accounting and bookkeeping services aren’t the most glamorous of services.  When the economy is growing businesses have more accounting and bookkeeping work.  But when the economy is contracting businesses have less accounting and bookkeeping work.  So a decline here could indicate an economic contraction.

The December 2013 jobs report is bleak.  Just as the oncoming winter looks in December.  Knowing we’ll have to wait through a long and cold winter before we can enjoy the warmth of summer again.  Just as we know we will have to wait through many more bad jobs reports before we can enjoy a healthy economy again.  Thanks to the horrific economic policies of the Obama administration that have failed to work these past 5 years.

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The August Jobs Report, Stuck between a Lie and a Hard Place

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 8th, 2013

Week in Review

The left has been lauding the good economic news jobs report after jobs report.  Always talking about all those new jobs created.  And the falling unemployment rate.  While not talking at all about the falling labor force participation rate.  For good reason.  For while new jobs and a falling unemployment rate are good people leaving the labor force is not.  And, sadly, the only thing making the jobs report look good is that people are simply disappearing from the labor force (see 169K New Jobs Last Month, 7.3% Unemployment: Conflicting Signals For The Fed by Abram Brown posted 9/6/2013 on Forbes).

Unemployment continues to fall, with joblessness reaching a 4-and-a-half-year low in August at 7.3%. Troublingly, the drop in unemployment comes from fewer people looking for jobs rather than a robust economy adding workers to open positions. The number of Americans participating in the labor market is at the lower [sic]point since August 1978.

Going forward, the Fed will need to decide how much stock to put in the unemployment number. It threatens to continue to fall while job creation stays meager–setting up a situation when the Fed could reduce its stimulus at a time when the recovery still isn’t firmly rooted. “People were not supposed to be dropping from the labor force this year,” says FTN Financial’s Chris Low. “While the Fed wrestles with this quandary, we’ll wait to see if it really meant what it said about the quality of improvement in the unemployment rate…At the Fed, there is a tendency to fall back on the unemployment rate as the best gauge of labor market health.” And he warns, “Markets will be unsettled.”

So what is a lying government to do?  After all of those years, and all those jobs reports, trumpeting the success of their economic policies based on the fall in the official unemployment rate, what do they say about the Fed who may raise interest rates because the official unemployment rate says the economy has recovered while the labor force participation rate says it’s still in the toilet?  When the only economic activity has been their friends on Wall Street taking the money the Fed was making and investing it?  Making money with money?  But making no jobs?  That’s something a Democrat administration is not supposed to do.  Helping rich people at the expense of the middle class.  So what is a lying government to do?

Tell the truth and admit that their economic policies have all failed?  To keep that cheap money tap open for their friends on Wall Street?  Or lie?  And say their economic policies have been successful?  And offer no rationale to keep the easy money tap open?  And let them close that tap?  Killing the only economic recovery?  That was enjoyed only by their friends on Wall Street?  Thus exposing the lie that their economic policies created any kind of economic recovery?

Quite the quandary for the Obama administration.

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FT164: “If the poor ever stopped being poor the Democrats would have trouble winning elections.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 5th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

There is no Greater Killer of Poverty than a Job-Creating Free Market Economy

A lot of people vote Democrat because of the perception that the Democrats are for the little guy.  The working man.  The poor.  The disenfranchised.  The sick.  The maimed.  Children.  Women.  Minorities.  Gays.  Lesbians.  Etc.  While Republicans are for rich white men, bankers, corporate executives, Wall Street investors, etc.  Democrats care about people.  While Republicans care about profits.  Democrats good.  Republicans bad.  At least, that’s the common perception in much of America.

The working man.  That’s who the Democrats are for.  The working man.  And what exactly does ‘the working man’ mean?  It means men who are working.  Obviously.  (We’re using the term ‘working man’ because it’s long been part of the lexicon of the Democrat Party.  But we include both men and women when using the expression ‘the working man’.)  The Democrats champion unions to protect the working man.  And to show their gratitude the unions put all their financial support behind Democrat candidates.  So putting people into good jobs is a very important mission for the Democrat Party.  At least that is the perception.

Jobs.  They are important.  For there is no greater killer of poverty than a job.  Countries that have advanced free market economies have plenty of good-paying jobs.  Where much of the populace lives well above poverty.  Like in Chile.  After Milton Friedman and the Chilean economists known as the ‘Chicago Boys’ ignited free market principles in Chile starting in 1973.  Countries that don’t have advanced free market economies have few good-paying jobs.  Where much of their populace lives in abject poverty.  Such as in Haiti.  And these prosperity/poverty levels impact more than just day-to-day life.

The United States has a High Standard of Living because of a Business-Friendly Environment

Chile suffered a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in 2011.  One of the largest earthquakes ever to be recorded in history.  It claimed approximately 525 lives.  Haiti suffered a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010.  Less powerful than the Chilean earthquake.  Yet the Haitian earthquake claimed approximately 220,000 lives.  The difference between these two death tolls?  More people have good-paying jobs in Chile than they do in Haiti.  Giving Chile a more advanced free market economy.  And better building codes and standards.  Allowing them to survive a stronger earthquake with less loss of life.

This is what jobs give you.  Working people have money to spend.  And working people have money to pay taxes.  Which can lift people out of poverty.  And lift nations out of poverty.  Which is why the United States has such a high standard of living.  Their economy became the number one economy in the world because they had so many jobs.  Thanks to a very business-friendly environment.  The Americans encouraged entrepreneurship.  And supported it with a sound banking system that encouraged capital formation.  Thanks to all those workers saving some of their earnings for the future.  Savings that provided the capital that built America.

So jobs are good.  And providing jobs for the working man is even better.  Because that’s what a working man wants.  A job.  So the Democrats, then, should be all about job creation.  If they are for the working man.  As is the perception.  But is this perception correct?  Well, if you determine that by the number of jobs they’ve created, no.

The Obama Policies are Business Unfriendly to Keep People Poor so the Democrats have Someone to Champion

Before George W. Bush became president in 2001 there were 210,743,000 in the civilian non-institutional population (see Employment Situation Archived News Releases).  Basically those who could have a job.  Of those who could have a job there were 141,489,000 in the civilian labor force.  By the time Bush left office there were 154,587,000 in the civilian labor force.  An increase of 13,098,000 to the civilian labor force.  Which is an increase of 1,637,240 annually.  Or 136,438 monthly.  So this is what a Republican did for the working man.  Now let’s see what a Democrat did.

Before Barack Obama became president in 2009 there were 154,687,000 in the civilian labor force.  At the end of March 2013 there were 155,028,000 in the civilian labor force.  An increase of 441,000.  Which is an increase of 103,765 annually.  Or 8,647 monthly.  The Bush economy created more jobs in a month that the Obama economy created in a year.  In fact, for every job the Obama economy created the Bush economy created 15.8 jobs.  So if you determine who is for the working many by who gives the working man more of what he wants, jobs, it is clear that the Republican is for the working man.  Not the Democrat.

No, President Obama’s economic policies are not business-friendly.  They are decidedly unfriendly to business.  Even punitive.  Which is why there has been no real job creation with the Obama economic policies.  Wall Street may be doing well.  The stock market may be doing well.  But the working man sure isn’t.  In fact, those who are doing well in the Obama economy are rich white men, bankers, corporate executives, Wall Street investors, etc.  So if the Democrats are not for the working man who are they for?  Poor people.  In fact, they love poor people so much that they work hard at keeping them poor.  Giving them a meager government handout instead of a job.  Which is how they win elections.  By giving poor people free stuff.  And if the poor ever stopped being poor the Democrats would have trouble winning elections.  Which is why the Obama economic policies are so business unfriendly.  So there are always poor and impoverished people they can champion.

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U-3, U-6 and the Labor Force Participation Rate 2004 through February 2013

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 12th, 2013

History 101

During Obama’s First Term the U-3 and U-6 Unemployment Rates moved Further Apart

The latest employment data showed the official unemployment rate fell in February to 7.7% from 7.9% in January.  The Labor Department also reported the addition of 227,000 new jobs.  Proof, the economists say, that the economy is improving.  But when you dig deeper into the data you find otherwise.  For the economy may have added 227,000 new jobs but 296,000 jobs left the labor market.  And they didn’t count these people as unemployed.  So there was a net loss of jobs.  Despite the fall in the official unemployment rate.

We keep saying official unemployment rate for a reason.  For the government has six different unemployment rates.  The ‘official’ rate is what they call U-3.  Which doesn’t count a lot of people who can’t find full time work.  A more inclusive rate is the U-6 number (see Labor Force Participation Rate for an explanation of the U-3, U-6 and the labor force participation rate).  The U-6 rate counts pretty much everyone who can’t find a full-time job.  Including discouraged workers, the marginally attached and those working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job.  Before the Great Recession (during the George W. Bush administration) the U-3 and U-6 unemployment rates tracked closer together than they do now (during the Barack Obama administration).  As we can see in the following chart (see Data Retrieval: Labor Force Statistics (CPS) for data source).

Unemployment Rates U3 U6 2004-2013

During Bush’s second term U-3 was between 4% & 6%.  And U-6 was between 8% and 10%.  But during Obama’s first term U-3 shot above Bush’s U-6.  And Obama’s U-6 soared to twice Bush’s U-6.  Most of this was due to the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the resulting Great Recession.  But that doesn’t explain why the graphs moved further apart.  And why did they do this?  Was it because they were overstating U-6?  Were they understating U-3?  Or is there some other explanation?  It has to be something.  And it’s likely not good.

The Official Unemployment Rate has been Understated by at least 2.9 Points during the Obama Presidency

During President Bush’s second term there was on average a 4-point spread between U-3 and U-6.  During President Obama’s first term this point spread increased to 6.9.  A difference of 2.9 points.  Which if we subtract to U-6 or add to U-3 the graphs will move closer together.  So they track each other at the same distance apart from each other they did during Bush’s second term.  When you look at the labor participation factor and the lost jobs one can only assume we’re understating U-3.  And not overstating U-6.  So if we add 2.9 points to U-3 after December 2008 the graphs look like this.

Unemployment Rates U3 Adjusted U6 2004-2013

We can ignore the sharp rise in U-3 adjusted.  As the loss 2.9 points of the U-3 unemployment rate would not have been instantaneous once January 2009 hit.  But once we get to the new highs the graphs maintain the same distance from each other as they did during Bush’s second term.  Which means the official unemployment rate didn’t fall from approximately 10% to 8% during Obama’s first term.  It actually fell from 12.9% to 10.6%.  And that the current official unemployment rate is not 7.7%.  But 10.6%.  Which is, of course, 2.9 points higher.

So the official unemployment rate is higher than they report.  With the official unemployment being understated by at least 2.9 points.  And the economy is not improving like they say.  Anyone reading the jobs data can see this.  But the Obama administration and their friends in the media, as well as mainstream economists, all say everything is getting better.  Or they say it is just the new normal.  To provide some cover for their failed Keynesian economic policies.  Which failed to pull the economy out of the Great Depression.  They failed to pull the economy out of the stagflation of the Seventies.  And they are now failing to pull the economy out of the Great Recession.

The ‘New Normal’ under President Obama has been a Steadily Declining Labor Force Participation Rate

Keynesian economics calls for the government to have control of interest rates.  They keep interest rates artificially low.  To expand the money supply.  They also increase taxes.  And borrow money.  Just so they can spend.  A lot.  For Keynesian theory says when the economy falls into recession the government should spend.  Even if it requires running a deficit.  To generate economic activity.  But expanding the money supply only causes inflation.  And higher prices.  Which dampens economic activity.  Which is why we have never spent our way out of a recession.  And never will.

President Obama is a Keynesian.  His Keynesian policies have hindered, not helped, the economic recovery.  And his excessive regulations have further hindered the economic recovery.  He shut down the domestic oil industry on public lands.  His war on coal has laid off swaths of coal miners and others in the coal industry. His rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline has prevented the creation of thousands of new jobs.  His environmental regulations have increased the cost of doing business.  As has Obamacare.  Which has put a freeze on new hiring.  And pushed lot of full time people to part time.  Nothing this administration has done has helped the economy.  While most everything it has done has hurt the economy.  And we can see that when we look at the labor force participation rate.  When we graph it along with U-3 (the official rate not the adjusted rate) and U-6 (see Employment Situation Archived News Releases for data source).

Unemployment Rates U3 U6 Labor Participation Rate 2004-2013

And here we see what caused U-3 and U-6 to move further apart.  U-3 is understated because people are continually leaving the labor force.  Unable to find a job.  This is why we have a net loss of jobs even when they report a gain of 227,000 new jobs in February.  Or a gain in any other month.  This is why the economy hasn’t improved under President Obama.  Despite what the official unemployment rate is.  And despite all of the new jobs they’ve created.  Because the ‘new normal’ under President Obama has been a steadily declining labor force participation rate.  Meaning he is a job destroyer.  And the only reason why the unemployment rate falls is because these people disappear from the labor force and they just don’t count them anymore.  Sort of how the European employment picture improved after the plague.  So many people left the labor force by dying that it created a labor shortage.  And low unemployment.  The problem here is that these people didn’t die.  They’re still out there waiting to rejoin the labor force.  To hire into jobs that are just not there.  And it’s going to take a long, long time for the economy to absorb these people.  Meaning the economy won’t be getting better anytime soon.  Because it’s a lot worse than they’re reporting.

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The Solution to the Epidemic of Gun Violence is adopting Conservative Economic Policies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2013

Week in Review

The Left is saying there is an epidemic of gun violence in the nation.  And President Obama wants to pass new sweeping federal gun control laws in response to that epidemic.  Because the Left has always wanted to take guns away from the people.  The president wants to try these sweeping measures even if it only saves one life.  And that may be all the lives they save.  One.  For guns aren’t killing people.  It’s the people using these guns that are killing people.  And that’s what we should be looking at.  These people.  And what so many of them have in common (see MILLER: Chicago’s deadly gun control lessons by Paul Miller posted 2/11/2013 on The Washington Times).

Last year, more than 500 individuals were murdered in Chicago…

Fifty-six children — under the age of 18 — met violent ends last year in Chicago, while 133 individuals — nearly one-third of all the murdered victims — never saw their 21st birthdays. Still, the city and the state don’t want to talk about the nightmare that Chicago’s African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods have become. Nobody is asking how the disastrous economy of Illinois is contributing to violence on the streets of Chicago.

Illinois has an unfunded pension deficit of $200 billion. It now lays claim to the worst credit rating in the nation. Single-party rule — controlled by public-employee unions — has created a business climate that is benefiting neighboring states. The black unemployment rate average in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 24.2 percent. That is not a typo — the unemployment rate in Chicago’s black community is almost 1 in 4. The overwhelming majority of the murders take place in minority neighborhoods, which implies this is not a gun control issue — “it’s the economy, stupid…”

Elected officials for over a decade have seen their policies fail time after time. They continue down the same path, knowing full well their policies do more economic harm than good. They are more concerned with power than people. The results are higher taxes, fleeing businesses and no jobs. Minority communities get hit the hardest.

Guns don’t kill people — politicians do…

Unemployment in minority communities is appalling. That story line in Chicago is the same from Detroit to Baltimore and Oakland to St. Louis. The most dangerous cities in the nation have minority communities that see no hope because they have little opportunity. The results have been the same throughout human history — poverty leads to violence and hopelessness equals suffering.

What’s causing people to pick up guns and kill people?  Liberal economic policies.  At least, in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland and St. Louis.  Cities controlled by liberal Democrats.  That are highly unionized.  Have high taxes.  And costly business regulations.  All of which discourage business from locating in these cities.  Which is why these cities have such high unemployment rates.  Especially in their minority communities.  Creating fertile ground for unrest.  Hopelessness.  And desperation.  Making people pick up guns to kill people.

Guns aren’t the cause of this violence.  They’re the effect.  It’s the poor economic conditions that cause people to be hopeless and desperate.  Pushing them towards gangs.  Drugs.  And violence.  Had they had jobs they would not be so hopeless and desperate.  As they would be too busy working.  And raising their families.  This is what conservative economic policies give.  A business-friendly environment that creates jobs.  While liberal economic policies give us strong unions, high unemployment, hopelessness and desperation.  Especially in our minority communities.

So if the president wants to adopt policies that can stop this epidemic in gun violence he should endorse conservative economic policies.  And if you bring down the unemployment rate down from 24.2% you’re going to get a lot of people off the street.  And save a lot of lives.  Far more than just one that the president is targeting with his new sweeping federal gun control laws.

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Consumer Confidence falls as President Obama’s Policies fail Economically but succeed Politically

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

If you watch any reporting on the economic news chances are you’re a little confused.  Apple posts record profits and its stock price slides.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 14,000 despite an uptick in the official unemployment rate.  Democrats talk about how great the economy is despite some 8 million people dropping out of the labor market since President Obama took office because they can’t find a job.  And the U-6 Unemployment rate that measures everyone who can’t find a job is holding steady at 14.4%.  The Democrats can spin the economic news all they want but it doesn’t change the numbers.  And they’re not fooling the people (see Consumer confidence drops to lowest level since November 2011 by Ricardo Lopez posted 1/29/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

Consumer confidence continued to slip in January, falling to its lowest level since November 2011, the Conference Board said Tuesday…

The index, based on a compilation of consumer polls, found that those claiming business conditions are “good” declined from 17.2% to 16.7%. On the labor market front, those claiming jobs were “plentiful” declined to more than 2 points to 8.6%.

The economy sucks.  Despite the trillions in new government spending.  And it’s only going to get worse now that the 2% payroll tax cut has expired.  And more of the Obamacare taxes hit the American people.

Obama’s economic policies have failed.  If you measure success with things like the unemployment rate, job creation and consumer confidence.  Of course if you measure by a different metric one could say Obama’s policies have been a great success.  Politically.  Especially if people keep demanding the government do something to fix the economy.  And if they never fix the economy the people will always demand that the government do something.  Which is what those in government want.   People demanding for more government.  So by this metric the Obama policies have been a great success.  Because they have been a great failure.  Economically.

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The Current Economic Recovery is so Bad that Fast Food Restaurants have to Increase their Dollar Menu Offerings

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

While the Obama administration, their economists and those in the mainstream media celebrate job creation month after month the official unemployment rate (U-3) remains at 7.8%.  Worse, the better gauge of how awful the economy is, the U-6 unemployment rate, is holding steady at 14.4%.  Which says a lot about the horrible economic policies of the Obama administration.  But these numbers still seem a little abstract to most.  So here is a summary of the current economic climate most people will be able to understand.  At least, if they eat at fast food restaurants (see Wendy’s Doubles Down on Dollar Menu by Martha C. White posted 1/3/2013 on Time).

Although it bumped Burger King out of second place by positioning itself as a more upscale fast-food burger chain, now Wendy’s is supersizing its value menu by adding a second tier of under-$2 items in addition to a core group of 99¢ offerings.

The company missed analysts’ earnings expectations last quarter, while rival McDonald’s recovered from an October dip in sales by heavily promoting its dollar menu. (The thousands of McDonald’s stores that stayed open on Thanksgiving helped lift sales too…)

In a conference call last month, president and CEO Emil Brolick told investors, “We have lost some share in the value-menu area,” and said  the new menu would help the company reverse that slide…

According to research firm Technomic, Wendy’s took the No. 2 spot from Burger King among fast-food burger brands last year. Helped along by Burger King’s sluggish response to changing tastes among fast-food diners, Wendy’s stole the King’s crown by focusing on higher-end (and higher-priced) items like bigger, more natural-looking patties and specialty sandwiches like an asiago ranch chicken club.

The problem was, it got almost too good at aligning itself with the higher end of the market. “The new menu is intended to better balance Wendy’s overall menu, which had gotten top-heavy through [the addition] of higher-priced sandwiches,” Burger Business observed.

“We do believe that the number of price-value-sensitive customers out there is not insignificant,” Brolick told analysts. He’s right. Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant-industry analyst at research company NPD Group, says fast-food diners, especially those under 35, are abandoning combo meals in favor of the dollar menu to save a few bucks.

Fast food is not only fast it is also inexpensive.  So if fast food has to offer lower-priced items to entice people into their restaurants you know the economy is bad.  Which it is.  Bad.  However you want to measure it.  This economic recovery is so bad it is as if we’re still in the Great Recession.  Why?  Because this administration’s policies are not business-friendly.  So businesses are not hiring.  Or only hiring people part-time to escape some of their expensive anti-business policies.  Like Obamacare.

And there is worse to come.  Without having to worry about reelection President Obama has no reason to compromise with Republicans.  Which means only one thing.  Americans will be buying ever more off of these dollar menus.  As it is the most they can afford thanks to the horrible economic policies of the Obama administration.

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The 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami both Helped GM and Hurt the Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Sadly for President Obama and GM the Japanese have recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  And GM has to face some formidable competition once again (see More Bad News for Obama: A Slump at GM by Rick Newman posted 8/2/2012 on U.S News & World Report).

The downshift seems to have scotched any notion of the government selling its stake in the company prior to the November elections, since that would amount to a taxpayer loss of roughly $17 billion, and a major embarrassment for Obama. The government can hold onto its shares as long as it likes, and sell when the price is high enough to get all its money back. But the stock would have to hit about $53 for Uncle Sam to break even—a threshold that seems a long way off…

One reason GM has lost market share this year has been the resurgence of Toyota, Honda and Nissan, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disrupted production and temporarily boosted the market share of Japan’s competitors…

Funny.  For the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for America’s lingering recession.  According to President Obama.  And here it was propping up GM and all the economic activity it generated.  Which was why the government bailed out GM.  To save jobs.  And all of that economic activity GM created.  So if the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for propping up GM why didn’t it prop up the rest of the economy?  Like Japan’s Lost Decade helped Bill Clinton’s economy during the Nineties?  Simple.  Because President Obama’s economic policies are just that bad.

GM will probably regain some momentum in 2013, when it rolls out its next generation of large SUVs, which are usually highly profitable. Meanwhile, Cadillac is on a roll, thanks to the new ATS compact, the XTS large sedan, and improving quality ratings. Chevrolet has three new models out or on the way—the Malibu and Impala sedans and the Spark subcompact—and a refreshed version of the popular Traverse crossover is coming next year as well…

Nobody would like to see the government sell its stake in GM more than GM. CEO Dan Akerson has complained about the company’s unhappy status as a political football, and the toll that takes on sales and morale. But he’s probably going to have to put up with it for a good while longer.

The car President Obama wanted Government Motors, I mean, General Motors to build is not even mentioned in this article.  The Chevy Volt hybrid.  Which is conspicuous by its absence.  Instead they mention the things his administration opposes.  SUVs.  And large sedans.  Vehicles the American people want to buy.  Perhaps encouraging GM to build something the American people didn’t want to buy also had something to do with GM’s falling stock price.

Perhaps it would be best for the government to sell its shares now.  Even at a loss.  So GM can run the car company.  And not politicians who don’t know the first thing about running a car company.  Ending his war on the stuff that makes these cars run, refined petroleum, would help, too.  A lot.  By bringing the cost of gasoline down.  Helping GM to sell more of the vehicles people want to buy.  Doing these things would help the economy more than 2011 earthquake and tsunami helped it.  Now that would be smart government.  Sadly, something we just don’t see much of these days.

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Hiring Prospects Improving despite no one Hiring Anyone unless they Absolutely have To

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

The economy is horrible.  And it has been horrible for the last three and a half years.  Despite the Recovery Summer.  And all the reporting of an economic recovery that has never materialized yet other than in the wishful thinking of government planners and their economic advisors whispering sweet-nothings in their ears.  Telling them more Keynesian economic policies can fix the previous Keynesian economic policies that have failed to do anything but make things worse.  Despite everything they have done the past three and a half years no one is hiring yet (see Around world, companies loath to add jobs: survey by Nick Zieminski posted 6/12/2012 on Reuters).

Hiring prospects have improved slightly in the United States and other major economies but companies are only adding workers when they have to, according to a survey by Manpower Group (MAN.N), the global employment services giant.

Manpower in a quarterly survey describes a vicious circle in which stronger consumer spending is being reined in by weak hiring, and vice versa. Spooked by Europe’s ongoing debt crisis and a slowdown in China, hiring managers in large economies are reluctant to invest in staff until they see a rebound in demand for their goods and services.

“Companies are in tune with their demand and surroundings,” Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said. “Hiring has been put into only-if-necessary mode. They can spring back, but there were too many times in the last 36 months when they thought it was safe to go in the water and only found out it wasn’t…”

Its poll of 18,000 U.S. hiring managers follows two months of disappointing U.S. jobs growth. The U.S. economy added just 69,000 jobs last month, less than half what was expected, and the unemployment rate ticked back up to 8.2 percent.

Two months of disappointing U.S. job growth?  Try three and a half years.  The official unemployment number (U3) was under 8% for only a short part of President Obama’s first year in office.  It was below 8% when he promised that if we passed his stimulus plan it would never go above 8%.  For the year or so after Congress passed his stimulus plan the official unemployment rate (U3) flirted with 10%.  Which if you’re keeping score is above 8%.  The U6 unemployment rate (which counts the underemployed and those who gave up looking for work) has been north of 16% for about 2 years of his administration.  Again, if you’re keeping score, that’s above 8%.  And closer to Great Depression unemployment.  The U6 rate is still north of 14%.  So, no, it hasn’t been 2 months of disappointing job growth.  It’s been three and a half years of disappointment in the Obama economic recovery.  Or lack thereof.

This is why no one is hiring unless they absolutely have to.  Because no one has any faith in the economy.  And everyone is expecting things to get worse when Obamacare goes into full effect.  At 2,000+ plus pages and a lot of ‘as the secretary directs’ included in that law leaves business owners with nothing but apprehension.  They have no idea how to plan with these kinds of unpredictable variables.  These are just not days to be hiring employees if you’re a business owner. 

This is part of the reason the employment picture is so horrible in America.  The other reason is the anti-business Keynesian economic policies of the Obama administration.  Which lead to high taxes, high spending and high debt.  Which has killed job creation in America.  And throughout the Keynesian world.  Because Keynesian policies do not favor business.  They favor activist, interventionist, tax and spend government.  Who intervene actively in the private sector to raise money via taxes to spend in the public sector.  And yet the government’s economists are always surprised by the poor economic data their Keynesian policies produce.  Which begs the question if they are so blind to the obvious should they really be advising the government?

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Opportunity Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 4th, 2012

Economics 101

Those on the Left are all for Choice as long as you Choose what they want you to Choose

Choice.  It’s what life is.  Every day we make hundreds of choices in our life.  The communists called that a burden.  And that their way removed all that stress from our lives.  The stress of constantly having to choose.  They came up with a new freedom.  Freedom from choice.  To live under oppression.  Like a slave.  Where you no longer had the burden of making a choice every waking hour of your day.  You simply took what the government gave you.  And relaxed.  Truly free.

It turned out the people living under communism preferred having that burden of choice.  And took every opportunity to escape the communist ‘freedom’.  To a freedom where you were free to choose whatever you wanted.  Instead of taking what central planners gave you.  Those on the Left always had a soft spot in their hearts for communism.  And Soviet central planners.  For they never cared that much for free markets.  Laissez faire capitalism.  Freedom of choice.  Because people so often chose poorly in their opinion.  For they weren’t as educated and enlightened as they were on the Left.  And therefore chose the wrong kind of foods to eat.  The wrong kind of beverages to drink.  The wrong kind of cars to drive.  The wrong kind of power to generate.  And the wrong people to vote for.

No.  Those on the Left are no fans of choice.  Except, of course, when it comes to abortion.  When it comes to abortion then they are big fans of choice.  But not so much when it comes to us choosing what to eat, drink and drive.  Or how we generate our energy.  So when it comes to choice those on the Left are like the Soviet central planners.  They are all for choice.  As long as you choose what they want you to choose.

When making any Economic Decisions we make our Choice based on Opportunity Costs 

But we choose.  Because we can.  At least with most things.  But how do we choose?  Does price determine what we choose?  Sometimes.  Quality?  Sometimes.  Loyalty?  Sometimes.  Sometimes it’s one of these things.  Sometimes a combination of all of these things.  Sometimes it’s none of these things.  So what is it that makes up your mind when confronted with a choice?  Do you know?  You do.  For obviously you’re making the choice.  But the ‘why’ we may have to coax out of you.  For you will probably not be able to explain why.  At least not as well an economist can.

The study of economics is all about choice.  And trying to determine what influences people’s choices.  So economists can offer economic policies to maximize economic activity.  By maximizing that thing we ultimately trade for.  Which is what?  Happiness.  We choose to increase our happiness.  Or utility in the parlance of economics.  The things we choose are the things that will give us the greatest happiness.  Or the greatest utility.  But if you’re like me you never saw ‘utility’ or ‘happiness’ expressed as units on a price tag in a store.  Price tags show only price.  Which tells us little how happy something will make us.  So how do we choose the things that will maximize our happiness?  Especially if you’re looking at two different things that have the same price?

Easy.  We don’t make our decision by looking at what we’re buying.  We make our decision based on what we’re not buying.  What we are giving up by buying this thing or that service?  What might have been had it not been for this purchase?  What opportunity we’re passing on to make this purchase?  What cost are we paying in lost opportunity by committing to this purchase?  In other words, when making any economic decisions we make our choice based on opportunity costs.  On an amount of happiness we’re giving up to acquire some other amount of happiness.  And whatever the number of our choices the end result is the same.  What we choose gives us more happiness than all other possible alternatives.  Regardless of price, quality or loyalty.  Though they could influence us when there is a tie.

Liberals make us Buy not what Increases our Happiness but what Increases their Happiness

You can’t put a price on happiness.  That’s what they say.  And they are right.  Whoever they are.  For example, luxury cars are nice.  But they are expensive.  Subcompacts are not as nice as luxury cars.  But they are not as expensive either.  So if you were choosing between these two cars which one would you choose?  I can’t tell because I don’t know your income.  But I can guess at your decision process.  You’re going to compare opportunity costs.  Driving a luxury car gives you enormous amounts of happiness.  For the limited time you spend driving it.  Enormous happiness for a limited amount of time.  Okay.  But what are the opportunity costs?

Let’s say your daily commute to and from work is one hour.  But when you get home you enjoy 4 hours between surfing the Internet and watching cable television.  When you’re not at work or home you like to use social media on your smartphone interacting with your friends.  And using your smart phone apps to maximize your fun in the evenings and on the weekend.  You like to spend your Sunday mornings at the coffee shop with you tablet reading the online Sunday papers.  The hours of driving happiness come to 10 hours a week.  And the hours of online/watching cable happiness comes to 32 hours a week.  Now being that you spend more time online or watching cable than driving then it’s safe to say that driving brings you less happiness than those other activities.  Because luxury cars are expensive they come with a high monthly payment and a high insurance premium.  Which means you will have to cut back on other spending to afford the luxury car.  So to afford the luxury car you have to give up your cable and home Internet access.  And cut back on your minutes on your smartphone.

The opportunity cost of the luxury car is giving up cable TV and cutting back on Internet access and smartphone minutes.  The opportunity cost of keeping those things is getting a subcompact car instead of a luxury car.  This is the ultimate decision we make in all of our economic decisions.  Which will cost us more in sacrificed happiness in the long run?  Which makes those decisions easy.  In the above example you would probably have never given the luxury car any serious thought.  This is why free markets work so well.  Why laissez faire capitalism works so well.  Because the economy is full of individuals making these decisions quickly.  Far quicker than any Soviet state planner.  And with far more insight into our own wants and desires than any Soviet state planner.  And in the aggregate this drives economic activity.  Bringing the things we want to market.  The things that give us the greatest amount of happiness.  The things that have the lowest opportunity costs.  Unlike Soviet central planning.  Or American liberal Democrat central planning. 

No.  These people try to change our purchasing decisions.  Making us buy not what increases our happiness.  But what increases their happiness.  Which is why when liberal Democrats are in power there is a general economic decline.  Because they do alter our purchasing decisions.  By increasing the opportunity costs of the things that increase our happiness.  So that we buy fewer of them.  But we don’t buy more of the things they want us to buy.  Because those things don’t increase our happiness.  When they subsidize hybrid cars (paid for with higher taxes from us) to get us to buy them it doesn’t make the hybrid cars give us any more happiness.  It just leaves us with less money because of the higher taxes.  So we buy less of everything else.  And in the aggregate this lowers economic activity.  Leaving us all less happy.

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