April 16, 2013 |
For the third year in a row, the nation's economic recovery seems to be petering out just as temperatures start to go up. Hiring has dropped off. Shoppers are putting away their wallets. Government spending cuts are looming. That has fueled predictions of an abrupt slowdown over the next few months. Economists are forecasting tepid growth of just over 1 percent during the second quarter of the year. The economy was expanding at roughly twice that pace over the winter. In fact, although the drivers have been different, the slowdowns have become...
April 5, 2013 |
The latest monthly employment data from the Labor Department has disappointed observers of the national economy. The Washington Post's Neil Irwin summarizes the report: Too few jobs were added to keep up with the growing American workforce (that number is more like 125,000). The headline read that the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, but it was almost entirely for bad reasons. A whopping 496,000 people dropped out of the labor force, and 206,000 fewer people reported having a job, meaning that the...
March 24, 2013
This week, financial leaders from around the world meet, while in the United States, a slew of housing indicators are released. Monday Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke heads to London to give a speech on lessons learned from the financial crisis. He appears with Bank of England governor Mervyn King and the International Monetary Fund's chief economist, Olivier Blanchard. Tuesday Durable-goods orders for February come out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts expect a big swing from January, when...
March 13, 2013
The excellent March 7 front-page article " Job creators — or terminators? ," on progress in robotic development, raised the question of the long-term effects of robots on employment. More consideration should be given to Robert Shapiro's suggestion ["The new normal in job creation," op-ed, Feb. 15] to replace the employer-paid portion of the payroll tax with the use of a value added tax (VAT). In fact, I would expand it to include employer-paid health care and retirement costs as well.
February 21, 2013 |
The world's largest retailer has been the source of some unwelcome news about the economy of late. Internal e-mails from Wal-Mart executives were leaked earlier this month, and they present a dire picture of what is happening to American consumers, particularly the low- to middle-income consumers who spend a lot of their money at Wal-Mart. "Where are all the customers? And where's their money?" asked Cameron Geiger, a Wal-Mart senior vice president, in e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News that also described February sales to that point...
February 7, 2013 |
Some of the nation's largest retailers posted solid gains in January even though shoppers were hitting the malls with smaller paychecks. The results reported Thursday offer the first glimpse into how the expiration of the payroll tax cut is affecting household budgets. A worker making $50,000 a year faces a decrease of $1,000 in take-home pay over the course of the year, and economists predicted spending would fall off. But many companies found that shoppers were more resilient than expected.