Looking up a bit. (The most surprising part of this is in bold.)

Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment insurance benefits over the past month than at any time in more than eight years, signaling employers are hanging on to workers as demand improves.

The four-week average of jobless claims, considered a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 297,250, the lowest since April 2006, from 300,750 the prior week. Claims in the period ended July 26 climbed to 302,000, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, from a revised 279,000 the prior week that was the lowest since 2000.

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24 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Under 300k.

Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington.

(snip)

The four-week average of jobless claims, considered a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, decreased to 302,000, the lowest since May 2007, from 309,250 in the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits declined by 8,000 to 2.5 million in the week ended July 12, the fewest since June 2007. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.9 percent, today’s report showed. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

None of Bloomberg’s “experts” were even close. I don’t know why they even bother.

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23 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Teddy Roosevelt in 1913 said,

Via Job’s Anger.

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23 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

My local rag has an odd story about research by a local professor which seems to point to a correlation between whether persons “front-in” or “back-in” parking spaces and their economic behavior. A snippet:

China had the highest share of reverse parkers, at 88 percent; the United States was lowest, at less than 6 percent, followed by Brazil, at 17 percent. The U.S. parking data included observations in downtown Norfolk and in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

He then looked at recent economic statistics, such as savings rate and growth in gross domestic product, and found that the more reverse parkers, the more economic success.

For example, of the six countries, China enjoyed the largest annual productivity increase from 2001 to 2011 – 17.8 percent. Virtually tied on the bottom were Brazil (1.3 percent) and the United States (1.5 percent). “Based on the way people park,” Li wrote, “we can gauge their economic performance.”

The link, Li said in an interview last week, is whether a society leans toward instant or delayed gratification. Rear-first parkers, he reasoned, are delayed-gratification types: They take more time to park so they can have a quicker getaway.

Note that he is not claiming causality, merely correlation.

Full Disclosure:

I usually back into parking spaces, but gratification of any sort has little to do with. It’s simple visibility.

If I get caught parked between two honking great SUVs, I’d much rather front out than back out.

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22 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

The Atlantic City casino dream is crashing and, as it crashes, it beggars honest workers.

Casino gambling is a mug’s game. It has always been a mugs’ game, just as the lottery in a mug’s game. The house always wins; the marks always lose. Those who would base their fortune on casino gambling are mugs and losers.

Financing public services by playing a mugs’ game because politicians fear to assess taxes–the price of living in a civilized society, by the way–is a con and a fraud, a mug’s gambit. Like all cons and frauds, it ultimately fails (think Bernie Madoff and Enron). In AC, the con and the fraud is failing big time.

Only the con artists and the fraudsters, who cash in early and get out quickly, benefit, as they play their (you will pardon the expression) Trump cards while leaving the citizenry holding the bag.

Depending on “gambling revenue” to pay for public services is an attempt to take the easy way out of governance.

There is no easy way out of responsibility. The citizenry forgets that at its peril

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17 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

For all practical purposes, no change: Still above 300k.

Jobless claims declined by 3,000 to 302,000 in the week ended July 12, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington.

(snip)

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 79,000 to 2.51 million in the week ended July 5, the fewest since June 2007. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.9 percent from 2 percent, today’s report showed.

Bloomberg is all a-twitter with optimism because it was lower than their experts predicted, forgetting that that is ultimately a meaningless observation.

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15 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

The Gloomy Historian explains how the concept of the “free market” has become a misdirection play. A nugget:

Somewhere along the line, “free market” graduated from the world of abstractions and became an actual thing. By “thing” I mean an entity, something identifiably self-contained, an object in time-space. In reality, “free market” is simply a name we gave to an economy characterized by a reliance on market forces to determine value. But for many people, “free market” is more than a label: it is something concrete—at least that is how they talk about it.

When abstractions are spoken of as real things, we call it reification. Reification is a semantic fallacy, but its use is sometimes necessary when one wants to communicate complex realities with considerably less words. However, a semantic fallacy, if not challenged, can go on to support faulty conceptualizations of reality, especially once it seeps into discourse. The special problem in this case is that the reification complements an ideology, one that rejects the natural and necessary role of the government in the maintenance of the economy

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12 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

What happens when Republican economic theory, created to sound good and bamboozle voters, meets real life? Watch and learn.

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10 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Slightly better:

Jobless claims declined by 11,000 to 304,000 in the week ended July 5, the fewest in more than a month, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington.

(snip)

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, dropped to 311,500 last week from 315,000. . . .

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 10,000 to 2.58 million in the week ended June 28.

Bloomberg’s headline focuses on the figure’s being lower than “forecast,” conveniently ignoring the execrable record of Bloomberg’s “forecasters.”

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06 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Cenk uses facts (gasp!) and numbers (horrors!) to expose the duplicity.

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03 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

I have never been a fan of states’ choosing to raise money through gambling. I have nothing against a friendly game of poker (though I will not participate–I spell “gamble” “L-O-S-E”), but I’ve always considered state-sanctioned lotteries, casinos, and slots to be legislators’ pusillanimous strategy to avoid facing up to doing their jobs, to avoid their responsibility to “govern.”

Taxes are the price of life in a civilized society. (One could go further and argue that those who oppose all taxes on “principle” ipso facto oppose civilized society, but that’s another post.)

Establishing state-run lotteries and authorizing slots parlors and casinos with the justification that they raise revenue to pay for essential public services such as schools, pensions, roads, and the like is, at best, a dodge, and, at worst, a scam. It is legislators’ and governors’ admission that they are too cowardly to govern.

It is fundamentally dishonest.

In Pennsylvania, the scam is starting to fail.

Slot machine revenue in Pennsylvania dropped 6 percent in June compared to figures posted last year. Overall gross slot machine revenue for the fiscal year has slipped 4.5 percent, according to figures released today by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

In New Jersey, it’s been failing for years.

Atlantic City started the year with 12 casinos. By Labor Day, it could be down to nine.

For years, economists and analysts talked in theoretical terms about “casino saturation” in the northeastern United States. But there’s nothing theoretical about what’s happening in Atlantic City now.

Buy your Powerball ticket if you must, but, as you do, remember two things: You have a better chance with Publishers Clearing House and you are suborning fundamentally dishonest governance.

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03 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Despite the hype, no real change: Still well above 300k.

Job creation surged beyond expectations in June and the unemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low (the hype–ed.), underscoring the strength of a U.S. labor market that will help spur a rebound in growth.

(snip)

Jobless claims rose by 2,000 to 315,000 in the week ended June 28. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 313,000 claims. Economists’ estimates ranged from 305,000 to 325,000 after an initially reported 312,000 in the week ended June 21.

In June, applications for jobless benefits ranged from 313,000 to 318,000. Fewer firings typically foreshadow an acceleration of job growth.

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26 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

No difference.

Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to a one-month low of 312,000 in the week ended June 21, the Labor Department reported today in Washington.

(snip)

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 314,250 from 312,250 the week before.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits climbed by 12,000 to 2.57 million in the week ended June 14. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 2 percent during that period from 1.9 percent, today’s report showed.

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23 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Cowgirl Up conjures up a Randian paradise.

Just read it.

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19 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Slightly better:

Jobless claims fell 6,000 to 312,000 in the week ended June 14, the Labor Department reported today in Washington.

(snip)

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, declined to 311,750 from 315,500 the week before.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 54,000 to 2.56 million in the week ended June 7, the fewest since October 2007.

The astounding thing was that Bloomberg’s experts were, for all practical purposes, right on the money. I think it’s time to buy a lottery ticket.

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18 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Just read it.

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15 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

I spent almost a quarter of a century in the railroad industry.

I never saw a strike last more than a day or two. This sort of stuff is routine. It’s part of the dance.

It’s called “regulation.”

“Regulation” helps make stuff work in an orderly fashion.

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12 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

No great, but not horrible.

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose to 317,000 last week, holding below this year’s average and signaling sustained progress in the labor market.

(snip)

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, climbed to 315,250 from 310,500 in the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 11,000 to 2.61 million in the period ended May 31. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 2 percent during that period, today’s report showed.

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07 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Economy

Find out how:

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James Howard Kuntsler seems to be auditioning as Cassandra; he thinks we need to start paying attention to what’s really going on. A nugget:

Now we’re in the early stage of expensive oil, and a lot of things that seemed to work wonderfully well before don’t work so well now. The conveyer belt of cheap manufactured goods from China to the Wal-Marts and Target stores doesn’t work so well when the American customers lose their incomes and have to spend their government stipends on gasoline because they were born into a world where driving everywhere for everything is mandatory, and because central-bank meddling adds to the horrendous inflation of food prices.

Now there’s great fanfare over a “manufacturing renaissance” in the United States, based on the idea that the work will be done by robots. What kind of foolish Popular Mechanics porn fantasy is this? If human beings have only a minor administrative role in this set-up, what do two hundred million American adults do for a livelihood?

All I need to do to know he’s on to something is look at the rise in sea level in the past 50 years just over there near where I live.

Afterthought:

“Popular Mechanics porn fantasy.” Heh.

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