Very interesting NFP report today, with all sorts of cross currents at play. The consensus of Wall Street economists is for the unemployment rate to
remain at 4.6% for August, while Nonfarm payroll growth is seen at 112,000 — marginally
stronger than July’s 92,000.

AdpAs noted yesterday, Back-to-School Sales were surprisingly strong. And credit crunch notwithstanding, the global boom continues. 

Closer to home, things have been murkier. The ADP Employment change was a mere 38k — that has lowered expectations, as have all of the huge layoffs in the mortgage and banking — the Financial sector accounts for about half of the total mass layoffs.

BLS keeps showing an unfathomable construction jobs growth , which I suspect is a function of their wildly-optimistic-guaranteed-to-miss-turning-points Birth/Death Model adjustment. The gross gain last August was 122k jobs; since  it appears to be rather seasonal, we should expect a nice B/D bump this August also.

Considering how much softer the economy has been much in 2007 than last year, it is simply unconscionable that the B/D model has actually created more jobs in 2007 than it created at this point in 2006.

Year    Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul 
2006   -193    116    135    271    211    175    -57   
2007   -175    118    128    317    203    156    26                        

Hence, we need to consider two factors: today’s reported number, and that ongoing physical construct called reality.

It would not shock me to see an upside surprise in the official reported number today. 120k – 180k is certainly a conceivable outcome from the model. Hell, if BLS’ model can generate data saying construction jobs are growing, than why not even 200-220k new jobs?

The real numbers on the ground are very different. In addition to the punk ADP report, and the massive Challenger layoff numbers, we continue to see other leading employment indicators softening:  The online job listings (showing more people looking for work) and temporary help index. The charts of temp help firms like ManPower (MAN) look pretty awful.  Also, Continuing
unemployment claims
continue to tick higher — the WSJ reported they "hit 2.598 million in the week to Aug. 25, up 5% from a year


The Fed will obviously be watching this data point, but one number is far less significant than the overall trend — and that has been a gradual decrease in new job creation over the past 3 years.   

I’m out of pocket most of the morning, so I may not get a chance to update this until much later today . . .


UPDATE: September 7, 2007 3:15pm

Helluva day to be out of pocket; Dow is off 240 as I type this; Gold is rockin.

A loss of 4,000 jobs — the first negative number in 4 years — pretty much gives the begging/pleading crwod what they want: a very likely 25 bps cut.

Once I get settled, I’ll update payroll and expand on yesterday’s same store sales  data.


Market Spotlight: Staffing Companies
Analysts Forecast Tough Times for Staffing Companies As Housing, Credit Problems Continue
Betsy Vereckey
AP, Thursday September 6, 3:41 pm ET

How Job Report May Be Masking Labor Pains
WSJ, September 7, 2007; Page C1

Category: Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve

iPod Update

Between the office move and the markets lately, I didn’t get a chance to address the new iPods/iPhone. Let’s do that now.

Back in January,
I noted why I did not think the iPhone would cannibalize the iPod:  Apple would migrate the touchscreen downstream to the smaller
and non iPhone "pods." Nine months ago, I noted it was only a matter of time before Apple would bring out a touchscreen (non-phone) iPod.

Well, that came to pass.

As to the rest, I got some of the new products, prices and capacities right. I got some aspects wrong. Back in January, I estimated what Apple’s products and price points might look like.

Here is a comparison with those forecast and the actual products:


  Product Pricepoint Actual Product Actual Pricepoint
Apple iPhone
10/5 GB
$499/439 16 GB $399
iPod touchscreen*
100/60 GB
  $379/329 iPod touch
16/8 GB
iPod "Classic"
80/30 GB
$279/229 iPod Classic
160/80 GB
  iPod Nano
10/5 GB
$199/139   iPod Video Nano
8/4 GB
Shuffle 1 GB $59 Shuffle 1 GB $79


First, it turns out that my estimates of 12-18 months was off — it only took nine months. Second, I wildly under-estimated the capacity of the classic iPods. Third, I wildly over-estimated the capacity of all the flash based iPods and iPhones.

But I did get many of the products, names and pricing pretty darned close. 



The WSJ has an interesting history of all the iPods, and Apple’s stock price:
click for larger graphic


BTW, if you want to have a laugh, go to Amazon and search for the the existing iPods — an 80 Gig iPod is $349 . . .


UPDATE:  September 6, 2007 7:32pm
To Amazon’s credit, any search for iPod also includes this result: New iPods



Category: Digital Media, Music, Technology, Video

Media Appearance: Kudlow & Company (9/6/07)

Category: Media

Surprisingly Strong Back-to-School Sales

Category: Consumer Spending, Economy, Retail

Bolling on Bolling (the Admiral)

Category: Financial Press, Television

A Closer Look at Unemployment

Category: Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve

Radio Nowhere

Category: Digital Media, Music

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

Over at Slate, Tim Harford has an interesting discussion on a rather intriguing economic question: Why Are Poor Countries Poor? The answer is less obvious than you might imagine. The usual explanation goes something like this:  "One very plausible account of why at least some poor countries are poor is that there is no smooth…Read More

Category: Commodities, Economy, Politics, Science

A Thought Experiment

Category: Credit, Derivatives, Investing, Markets, Trading

Recursion, Reflexivity, Feedback Loops & the Fed

Category: Credit, Derivatives, Federal Reserve, Inflation, Investing, Markets, Psychology