Radio commentary, April 15, 2010

Recession fatigue (cont.) I said last week that the preliminary reports on March shopping showed Americans rediscovering their lust to buy, following almost two years of born-again prudence. Those early returns, which were based on sales numbers coming from the major chain stores, have now been confirmed by the official word from the Census Bureau, compiler of the monthly retail sales figures. The Census stats are based on a much broader survey of the retail universe, which includes not only big national names like Target and Wet Seal, but also local chains,… Read More

Radio commentary, March 18, 2010

In U.S. economic news, more signs of modest recovery. Early in the week, we learned that retail sales rose an OK 0.3% in February. Weak auto sales dragged down that headline number; stripping them out, sales rose a pretty healthy 0.8% last month. Sales of electronics and appliances, sporting goods, and at restaurants and bars were pretty strong. The mix was a departure from recent retail bahvior, when spending on necessities predominated. Now we’re seeing more indulgence and frivolity in the mix. And, in another departure from recent behavior, it looks like the… Read More

Radio commentary, January 14, 2010

I’m going to keep the opening comments pretty short today. Though some of you have already heard my analysis of the December employment report, the WBAI audience hasn’t. So a quick reprise of that. In a phrase: quite disappointing. It looked for a bit like the labor market might finally be turning around, but those hopes were set back, though not thoroughly dashed, by the news that employers shed 85,000 jobs last month. Some of that might have been the result of terrible weather, even by the standards of Decembers. But there… Read More

Radio commentary, August 15, 2009

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve completed its regular policy-setting meeting, an event that happens every six weeks or so. The communiqué they issued after this one contained few surprises. They see the economy as leveling out, and the financial markets in an improving trend, but prosperity as anything but around the corner. More precisely, they expect economic activity “to remain weak for a time,” and anticipate that they will continue to engineer a regime of “exceptionally low,” in their phrase, interest rates. They see the risks of inflation as very low too—unlike a… Read More

Radio commentary, January 15, 2009

Audio: January 15, 2009 Re: the economic news, not only does the news remain bad, I’m tempted to say that it will continue to get worse. Some listeners have heard me say this already, but the home audience on WBAI hasn’t yet. The U.S. employment report for December was a horror. Total employment fell by 524,000, with almost every sector showing losses. Almost half the loss came in goods production, mainly construction and manufacturing. But it wasn’t just the goods sector either. Private services got hammered too. The losses in services are among… Read More