Economic Data 02/21/13: Don’t Believe The Lies

Unemployment Claims: Back To Reality?


In the week ending February 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000,  an increase of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 342,000.  The 4-week moving average was 360,750, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 352,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 346,428 in the week  ending February 16, a decrease of -14,758 from the previous week.   There were 346,659 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

So we have a reasonable actual .vs. “adjusted” number — heh, look at that!

What’s the big table look like?

Interesting — the EUC rolloff continues, now under 2 million total.  This is very significant, but note carefully that there is yet to be any evidence that these “newly not-drawing-UE folks” are getting jobs.  That, in turn, should be expected to show up in retail spending over the next few months, and not in a good way either.

But this week, which was the first post the February employment report, did show a nearly 77,000 drop in regular claim participants.

Call it a mixed bag with a mild positive bias for today.

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CPI (Consumer Price Index): Some Like It Hot(ter)

Well look at what we have here:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.3 percent in January. This increase offset another decline in the gasoline index and resulted in the seasonally adjusted all items index being unchanged, as it was last month. Increases in the indexes for shelter and apparel accounted for much of the increase in the index for all items less food and energy, with advances in the indexes for recreation, medical care, and airline fares also contributing.

Oh oh.

That woud be a 3.66% annualized increase in core, which ought to perk up your ears.

Let’s have a look inside at annualized increases, as we did with the PPI.

The first thing that stands out is that the “target” is “achieved” at a 1.9% core rate annualized.  But….

Shelter, particularly rent, is up closer to 3% while hospital services are up 4.7% and transportation is also up 3%, with insurance up nearly 5%.  The latter is a big perverse effect of QE, in that insurance companies make a fair bit of their money off fixed-income investments.  That’s dead, of course.

If you like to eat, eat lamb.  It’s down 15% on the year.

Don’t eat apples.  They’re up 11%. Fruits in general are up 4.6%, and vegetables 3.4%.

Electronics continued their dive, with TVs off 17% on the year.  Americanus Boobus has his idiot box for another year at an ever-lower price.

Don’t go to college unless you want a textbook shoved up your butt. Their price is up 8% on the year, and the best part of it is that your professor is probably getting a piece of it.  That smile on his face?  It’s because he’s assaulting you coming and going.

Computers continue their inexorable decline, as do other consumer information items (e.g. cell phones, tablets, etc.)  Bye-bye margins.

And don’t start this crap about how “health costs” have “leveled out.”  The hell they have.  Health insurance is up 8.6% annualized, damned close to the 9% escalation that has been maintained historically over the last 30 years.  If you believe that it comprises only 0.658% of the total amount of money you spend as a consumer, which is what the government claims, then you’re dumber than a box of rocks.

Can’t afford a car and need to ride the bus?  That’s up considerably more than the so-called “inflation index.”  Oh, and that’s a laugable 0.264% of your budget too.  Really, for those who actually use it?

Those are the lowlights — enjoy.

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Philly Fed: Now You’re F*ed

That will be the end of that debate.

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from a reading ]5.8 in January to ]12.5 this month (see Chart). The demand for manufactured goods also showed slight declines this month: The new orders index declined from a reading of ]4.3 in January to ]7.8 in February. Despite negative readings for general activity and new orders, the shipments index showed improvement: The index remained positive and edged slightly higher to 2.4. The percentage of firms reporting increased shipments (25 percent) was slightly greater than the percentage reporting declines (22 percent).

That’s not good.

There was a small indication of stability — the number of employees basically was flat and the workweek only declined slightly.  But….. there is no unfilled order backlog, new orders are declining faster, inventories are drawn down materially below the flat-line and the price paid/received spread is still the wrong way.

These indices have been screaming recession incoming for the last six months.  That’s the average lead time — which means it’s here and now, and there are no policy steps remaining available to counteract it as Congress, instead of rationalizing fiscal policy three years ago has instead chosen to “support” phantom and fraudulent “demand” with deficit spending.

Buckle up and keep in mind the average declines in the market during a serious (and severe) recession when there are no effective policy tools available to attempt to counteract it.

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