Tag Archives: jobs report

Paul Craig Roberts: Make Believe America

Americans live a never-never-land existance. The politicians and presstitutes make sure of that.

Consider something as simple as the unemployment rate. The US is said to have full employment with a January 2018 unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, down from 9.8 percent in January 2010 – BLS Statistics.

However, the low rate of unemployment is contradicted by the long-term decline in the labor force participation rate. After a long rise during the Reagan 1980s, the labor force participation rate peaked in January 1990 at 66.8 percent, more or less holding to that rate for another decade until 2001 when decline set in accelerating in September 2008.

Today the labor force participation rate is the lowest since February 1978, reversing all of the gains of the Reagan years.

Allegedly, the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is the result of the long recovery that allegedly began in June 2009. However, normally, employment opportunities created by economic recovery cause an increase in the labor force participation rate as people join the work force to take advantage of employment opportunities. A fall in the participation rate is associated with recession or stagnation, not with economic recovery.

How can this contradiction be reconciled? The answer lies in the measurement of unemployment. If you have not looked for a job in the last four weeks, you are not counted as being unemployed, because you are not counted as being part of the work force. When there are no jobs to be found, job seekers become discouraged and cease looking for jobs. In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who cannot find jobs.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a second measure of unemployment that includes workers who have been discouraged and out of the labor force for less than one year. This rate of unemployment is 8.2 percent, double the 4.1 percent reported rate.

The US government no longer tracks unemployment among discouraged workers who have been out of the work force for more than one year. However, John Williams of shadowstats.com continues to estimate this rate and places it at 22 or 23 percent, a far cry from 4.1 percent.

In other words, the 4.1 percent unemployment rate does not count the unemployed who do show up in the declining labor force participation rate.

If the US had a print and TV media instead of the propaganda ministry that it has, the financial press would not tolerate the deception of the public about employment in America.

Junk economists, of which the US has an over-supply, claim that the decline in the labor force participation rate merely reflects people who prefer to live on welfare than to work for a living and the current generation of young people who prefer life at home with parents paying the bills. This explanation from junk economists does not explain why suddenly Americans discovered welfare and became lazy in 2001 and turned their back on job opportunities. The junk economists also do not explain why, if the economy is at full employment, competition for workers is not driving up wages.

The reason Americans cannot find jobs and have left the labor force is that US corporations have offshored millions of American jobs in order to raise profits, share prices, and executive bonuses by lowering labor costs. Many American industrial and manufacturing cities have been devastated by the relocation abroad of production for the American consumer market, by the movement abroad of IT and software engineering jobs, and by importing lower paid foreign workers on H1-B and other work visas to take the jobs of Americans. In my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, I give examples and document the devastating impact jobs offshoring has had on communities, cities, pension funds, and consumer purchasing power.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST:  PCR – MAKE BELIEVE AMERICA

313k Jobs Added? Nice Try But It’s Fake News

The census bureau does the data-gathering and the Bureau of Labor Statistics feeds the questionable data sample through its statistical sausage grinder and spits out some type of grotesque scatological substance.  You know an economic report is pure absurdity when the report exceeds Wall Street’s rose-colored estimate by 53%.  That has to be, by far, an all-time record-high “beat.”

If you sift through some of the foul-smelling data, it turns out 365k of the alleged jobs were part-time, which means the labor market lost 52k full-time jobs.  But alas, I loathe paying any credence to complete fiction by dissecting the “let’s pretend” report.

The numbers make no sense.  Why?  Because the alleged data does not fit the reality of the real economy.  Retail sales, auto sales, home sales and restaurant sales have been declining for the past couple of months.  So who would be doing the hiring?  Someone pointed out that Coinbase has hired 500 people.  But the retail industry has been laying off thousands this year. Given the latest industrial production and auto sales numbers, I highly doubt factories are doing anything with their workforce except reducing it.

And if the job market is “so strong,” how comes wages are flat?  In fact, adjusted for real inflation, real wages are declining.  If the job market was robust, wages would be soaring.  Speaking of which, IF the labor market was what the Government wants us to believe it is, the FOMC would tripping all over itself to hike the Fed Funds rate.  And the rate-hikes would be in chunks of 50-75 basis points – not the occasional 0.25% rise.

The Housing Market Is Starting To Fall Apart

Last week I summarized January existing home sales, which were released on Wednesday, Feb 21st. Existing home sales dropped 3.2% from December and nearly 5% from January 2017. Those statistics are based on the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate) calculus. Larry Yun, the National Association of Realtors chief salesman, continues to propagate the “low inventory” propaganda.

But in truth, the economics of buying a home has changed dramatically for the first-time and move-up buyer demographic plus flipper/investors. As I detailed a couple of issues back, based on the fact that most first-time buyers “buy” into the highest possible monthly payment for which they can qualify, the price that a first-time, or even a move-up buyer, can afford to pay has dropped roughly 10% with the rise in mortgage rates that has occurred since September 2017. The game has changed. That 10% decline results from a less than 1% rise in mortgage rates.

That same calculus applies to flipper/investors. Investors looking to buy a rental home pay a higher rate of interest than owner-occupied buyers. Most investors would need the amount of rent they can charge to increase by the amount their mortgage payment increases from higher rates. Or they need to use a much higher down payment to make the investment purchase. The new math thereby removes a significant amount of “demand” from investors.

It also occurred to me that flippers still holding homes purchased just 3-4 months ago are likely underwater on their “largesse.” Most flippers look for homes in the price-range that caters to first-timers (under $500k). This is the most “liquid” segment of the housing market in terms of the supply of buyers. Any flipper that closed on a home purchase in the late summer or early fall that needed to be “spruced up” is likely still holding that home. In addition to the purchase cost, the flipper has also incurred renovation and financing costs. Perhaps in a few markets prices have held up. But in most markets, the price first-time buyers can pay without significantly increasing the amount of the down payment has dropped roughly 10%. Using this math, any flipper holding a home closed prior to October is likely sitting on a losing trade.

Similar to 2007/2008, many of these homes will be sold at a loss or the flipper will “jingle mail” the keys to the bank, in which case the bank will likely dump the home. I know in some areas of metro-Denver, pre-foreclosure listings are rising. Some flippers might turn into rental landlords. This will increase the supply of rental homes which, in turn, will put pressure on rental rates.

New home sales – The plunge in January new home sales was worse than existing homes. New home sales dropped 7.8% from December. This follows December’s 9.3% plunge from November. The December/January sequence was the biggest two-month drop in new home sales since August 2013. Back then, mortgage rates had spiked up from 3.35% in June to 4.5% by the end of August. The Fed at that time was still buying $40 billion worth of mortgages every month. With QE over and an alleged balance sheet reduction program in place, plus the Fed posturing as if it will continue nudging the Fed Funds rate higher, it’s likely that new home sales will not rebound like they did after August 2013, when mortgage rates headed back down starting in early September 2013.

Contrary to the Larry Yun false narrative, the supply of new homes jumped to 6.1 months from 5.5 months in December. How does this fit the Yun propaganda that falling sales is a function of low inventory? The average price of a new home is $382k (the median is $323k). New home prices will have to fall significantly in order for sales to stop trending lower. What happens if the Fed really does continue hiking rates and mortgage rates hit 5%?

January “Pending” Home Sales – The NAR’s “pending home sales index,” which is based on contract signings, was released this past Wednesday. It plunged to its lowest level since October 2014. The index dropped 4.7% vs. an expected 0.5% rise from the optimist zombies on Wall St. It’s the biggest 1-month percentage decline in the index since May 2010. On a year-over-year comparison basis, the index is down 1.7%. December’s pending home sales index was revised down from the original headline report.

The chart below, sourced from Zerohedge with my edits added, illustrates the way in which rising and falling mortgage rates affects home sales. The mortgage rate data is inverted to better illustrate the correlation between mortgage rates and home sales:

Housing sales data is lagged by a month. Per the blue line, current homes sales (i.e. February sales/contract signings) have likely declined again given that mortgage rates continued to rise in during the month of February.

The above commentary on the housing market is from the latest Short Seller’s Journal.  Myself and several subscribers have been making a lot money shorting homebuilders this year.  But it’s not just about homebuilders.  I presented ZAGG as a short in the SSJ in the December 10th issue at $19.  It plunged down to $12 yesterday.  I’ve had several subscribers report gains of up to 40% shorting the stock and 3x that amount using puts.

You can find out more about this unique newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal

More B.S. From The BLS Leads To A Blatant Attack On Gold & Silver

With the release of the latest BLSBS at 8:30am EST, the market interventionists were set up for a spectacular effort today. The S&P was first out of the gate, to the upside of course, and the precious metals were slammed. Ironically, the impulse triggered by the headline jobs report should have effected the stock market and the precious metals similarly.

How are 100’s of thousands of working age people leaving the labor force yet, somehow, the BLS can report hundreds of thousands of new jobs that were filled? Well, there is the “Birth/Death Model”. The Birth/Death Model, much like the Federal Reserve Note, is just made up out of thin air. A number is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and then entered into the BLS report. It has nothing to do with reality. But someone forgot to tell the BLS that construction spending in June was down nearly 10% year over year from last June because the BLS reports that new construction businesses added 11,000 new jobs to the economy – an economic and statistical extreme improbability.

If there were any markets that actually moved in accordance with fundamentals, natural price discovery or anything associated with reality the S&P and Dow Jones would be moving to the downside as well. Why? Because as Dave explains in the latest Shadow of Truth, if the [equities] markets were sensing the Fed was going to raise interest rates, and if the employment report were based in reality the Fed would be forced to raise interest rates, this would be negative for those indices. But, alas, everything is rigged, so it doesn’t matter. The “market saved us again…”

A Preposterous Jobs Report And Preposterous AMZN Earnings

On a trailing twelve month quarterly basis, AMZN’s operating income growth has plunged from 30.2% in Q2 2015 to just 3.6% in Q4 2016.  This is a stunning drop in growth considering that AMZN’s stock is trading at 92x operating income and 134x net income. That’s before accounting manipulations are stripped away.

The fake news abounds.  It’s seeping from cracks in every part of the U.S. system.  It’s one of the hallmarks of a collapsing economic and social system and, even worse, the onslaught of totalitarianism.   Orwell’s vision was stunningly prophetic.  Of course, he was simply reconstituting history and warning us about the lessons which everyone seems to forget.

The latest non-farm payroll report, the data for which is compiled by the Census Bureau and manufactured into fake news by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wants us to believe that the economy produced 227,000 jobs in January.  If you look at the “not seasonally adjusted” employment numbers, the number of people employed dropped by 1.25 million.

This is in an economy in which retail and auto sales plunged in January, which means retailers and domestic OEM’s cut back on employment – two major sources of employment in the economy.

In fact, according to the BLS fake news jobs report, “retail trade” was largest component of job “adds” in January. This is quite interesting given that retailers have been dumping employees en masse plus big box and mall anchor concepts like Macy’s are shuttering stores by the 100’s.  In short, that statistic is simply not credible nor supported by the facts. By the same token, auto manufacturers have been cutting shifts and shuttering production lines, as dealer inventories are ballooning and used car prices are plummeting, with a flood of low-mileage, well-maintained leased cars coming off lease.

The BLS is making the claim that “construction” was the 2nd largest category of job adds in January.  No way.  An apartment building and commercial real estate glut has formed. The default rate on CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities) is climbing as loans mature and borrowers are unable to repay or refi them – LINK.  Furthermore, the issuance of CMBS in 2016 was the lowest in the last 4 years.  If commercial r/e loans are not being sourced and therefore projects are slowing down, how can construction employment increase?

Restaurant sales are in freefall – a fact of which I have detailed meticulously in my Short Seller’s Journal – which means the standard plug used to goal-seek a specific employment number,  part-time waitresses and bartenders, is a fraud.  Moreover, with wage growth slowing down and real inflation wreaking havoc on non-discretionary expense items, it would seem highly improbable that “leisure and hospitality” would be the 3rd biggest contributor to the employment rolls.

In short, the Government employment report is once again not even remotely credible. But this should be expected.  First, the Census Bureau’s data collection apparatus not only is called into question constantly, but the CB has been caught submitting fraudulent data collection reports.  Some of the data collectors decide to take extra long lunches or visit the pot dispensaries in States where applicable and then submit fraudulent reports rather than conduct actual data collection.   Then the BLS takes the questionable data and pushes it through a seasonal adjustments and annual benchmark revision meat grinder. The data goes in as rat poison and comes out as nuclear waste.

As for Amazon…Amazon is the archetypal accounting fraud poster child.  Whether or  not you are willing to accept my analysis of their accounting practices, let ‘s look just at some surface indicators that AMZN is running off the rails to nirvana.   I wrote a comprehensive report on AMZN in which I drilled down to the core of AMZN’s highly misleading accounting practices.  The report is dated by a year but the “proof of concept” is still valid – maybe even more valid now than over the past 10 years.  I’ll send a copy to anyone who subscribes to the Short Seller’s Journal (I’ll send a copy to existing subscribers along with Sunday’s weekly issue).  You can subscribe here:  Short Seller’s Journal.

AMZN’s quarterly revenue growth rate has been slowing for several quarters.  Its revenue growth rate peaked in 2011 at 41%.   Since Q3 2015 to Q4 2016, the year over year quarterly growth rate has slowed from 30% to 24%.  This is despite the heady growth rate attributed to its cloud computing division (AWS – which I eviscerate in the AMZN report).   Operating income is worse.  Over the last 6 quarters, its year over year quarterly operating income growth has plunged from 84% to 13%. This excludes F/X effects, the application of which would make it worse.  Net income?  Forget net income.  By the time the numbers flow through AMZN’s waterfall of misleading accounting practices, the net income number is completely useless and highly manufactured.  I detail this fact in the AMZN report.

AMZN’s AWS segement (cloud computing) is highly touted by Wall Street snake-oil salesmen.  Don’t poison your view by looking at AMZN’s highly massaged and highly misleading earning presentation slide-show.  Go directly to the SEC-filed 8K/10Q, which itself is riddled with suspect accounting.

The growth of AWS has slowed considerably and will continue to do so.  Especially if Trump cuts back on Deep State funding, which is significant source of revenues for AMZN’s cloud computing services.  On a year over year quarterly revenue growth basis, AWS’ sales growth has gone from 82% in Q2 2015 to 47% in Q4 2016.  It’s been nearly cut in half.  It’s not a scale phenomenon either, as its Q4 revenues for AWS were $3.5 billion, which was just 8% of total revenues for the quarter.  I can remember when Wall St. stock jockeys were forecasting an explosion in AWS’s contribution to AMZN’s revenues and income.   But AWS sales have been running between 7% to 9.5% of total revenues since Q2 2015.  It was 8% of revenues in the latest quarter.

I will say that AWS produced 73.7% of AMZN’s operating income in Q4.  But that’s more a damnation of AMZN’s retail sales business, if anything.  With $1.255 billion in total operating income, that means AMZN generated just $329 million of operating income on $40.1 billion of retail sales.  That’s a “sweltering” 0.8% operating margin (zero point eight percent).   For comparison purposes, Walmart and Target generate an operating margin of about 5% on similar product sales.  So much for the argument that cyber-sales are more profitable than “brick and mortar.”

There’s a lot more analysis that I can present showing the misleading to fraudulent nature of AMZN’s financials, but that’s for subscribers.  Suffice it to say that the Free Cash Flow number presented by Jeff Bezos every quarter in his ridiculous slide presentation is completely fraudulent except for that fact that he discloses deep in the bowels of the AMZN 10Q – a place where Wall Street analysts never venture – that AMZN’s definition of “free cash flow” is not based on generally accepted accounting principles.

Non-Farm Payroll Headlines Are A Complete Fraud

“A lie told often enough becomes truth” – Vladimir Lenin.

The Government-programmed mass financial media gleefully reported this morning that the “jobs recovery” continues as the Government is telling us that 295,000 jobs were produced in February and the employment rate dropped to 5.5%.   Unfortunately, those headline statistics are complete Orwellian propaganda.  In fact, as I will demonstrate using the same payroll report used to derive the headline numbers, the employment situation in this country continues to get worse by the month.

The table below comes from the Bureaus of Labor Statistics actual employment report (BLS – Household Data Table A-1) – please click to enlarge:

NFP2

I’ve highlighted the most important data.   According to the Government’s own statistics, the working age population (“civilian noninstitutional population) grew by 176k in February BUT the number of people in the labor force declined 178k.   The labor force participation rate once again declined to 62.8% – a level of employment as a percent of the working age population not seen since the late 1970’s.   This is the definition of an employment depression.

According to the Government’s own numbers per the household survey above, the number of people employed increased by 95,000.  BUT the number of people “not in the labor force” increased 354,000. 

Those are the relevant numbers that need to be examined and debated.  Not the statistically manipulated garbage that the Government feeds into the media headlines. The employment situation grows worse by the day in this country.  Tens of thousands of oil industry workers have already been fired this year.   Hewlett Packard just announced 54,000 job cuts.  IBM is cutting over 100,000.  Both of those totals are for the global operations but a significant number will occur in this country.

As just one example of the Government lies embedded in the headline statistics, the BLS is reporting that construction added 29k jobs.  Yet, we found out yesterday that construction spending plunged 1.1% in January (Wall St. was expecting a .3% gain).  Retailers supposedly added 32k jobs in February.  Yet, we know that several retailers filed chapter 11 in January/February.  This list goes on.

If you have not watched it yet, this is a must-see short video by John Titus of Bailout Films which explains in detail how the monthly Government payroll report is a complete farce:  The Fed Is Blowtorching The Economy With QE.

The bottom line is that the Government’s non-farm payroll report has zero credibility.  Moreover, it grows more absurdly fraudulent by the month.