The Big Stall

Regular readers of The Big Picture will recognize the sentiment presented below. Its a simple 3 part analysis: 1) The economy is soft; 2) Job creation is weak, and getting weaker; and 3) most of the shills you see on TV are idiots.

The following is via Alan Abelson’s Barron’s column, titled The Big Stall:

"For reasons that have invariably eluded us — except that’s what their paymasters tell them to do — the incorrigible cheerleaders on Wall Street and in Washington have been insisting that the economy was strong, a sentiment, we regret to say, with few exceptions, mindlessly echoed by our colleagues in the press and in the electronic media. And by way of confirmation they cited the particular "strength" in employment.

Comes now Friday’s employment report for August, and guess what? It’s a bummer. Compared with the recently scaled-down consensus estimates of 90,000-100,000 additions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in fact, last month saw a loss of 4,000 jobs. It looks like a long goodbye to Goldilocks. What’s more, in another poke in the eye to the received wisdom, the job picture was much worse in both June and July than originally reported: Revisions slashed June by a whopping 57,000 slots and July by 24,000.

Nor is that the whole sad story. For were it not for the enhancement of August’s sickly totals by a formidable 120,000 jobs mythically created by the BLS’s "birth/death" contraption, the final tally would have been downright ugly. And the so-called household data, which bulls used to eagerly parade because it consistently outdid the establishment count, continued this year’s dismal — or, should we say, accurate — performance, shedding 316,000 jobs last month.

What last month’s dismal employment showing does is pretty much cinch the case for a cut in the federal-funds rate. It also, we think, pretty much cinches the case for recession, late this year or early next."

Hard to argue with most of that . . . and as mentioned recently, we think the odds of a recession are about 65%.


The Big Stall
Alan Abelson
Barron’s September 10, 2007

Category: Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve, Financial Press

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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

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