US labour market – improves in June but still no growth trend is apparent

On July 7, 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – June 2017 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by a relatively healthy 222,000 in June, after a much weaker result in May 2017. The Labour Force Survey data showed that employment rose by 245 thousand in June but was still not large enough an increase to offset the rise in the labour force, and as a consequence, official unemployment rose by 116 thousand. The official unemployment rate rose by 0.1 points to 4.4 per cent as a result. There are still 6.98 million unemployed persons in the US. The Federal Reserve Board’s Labour Market Conditions Index showed a slight deterioration in the overall labour market. There is still a large jobs deficit remaining and other indicators suggest the labour market is still below where it was prior to the crisis. Further, the bias towards low-pay and below-average pay jobs continues.
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    Posted in Labour Force, US economy | 3 Comments

    EU clones itself in West Africa and then tries to ransack the region

    In a recent blog – If Africa is rich – why is it so poor? – I considered the question of why the resources that make Africa rich have not been deployed to the benefit of the indigenous people who reside there. We saw that poverty is rife in Africa, when it is obvious to all and sundry that these nations possess massive resource wealth. The answer to that paradox is that the framework of development aid and oversight put in place by the richer nations and mediated through the likes of the IMF and the World Bank can be seen more as a giant vacuum cleaner designed to suck resource and financial wealth out of the poorer nations either through legal or illegal means, whichever generates the largest flows. So while Africa is wealthy, its interaction with the world monetary and trade systems, leaves millions of its citizens in extreme poverty – unable to even purchase sufficient nutrition to live. The ‘free trade agreement’ (EPA) between the EU and the West African nations is one such ‘vacuum’-like device. In fact, the West African states are still mired in post-colonial dependency not because they lack the resources available to set out their own development path, but, rather, because of the post-colonial institutions that have been set up to maintain control by the former colonialists of those resources. Not content to ruin the prosperity in the Eurozone, the EU is pressuring some of the poorest nations in the world to adopt the same sort of failed monetary and fiscal arrangements and then go further – and sign ‘free trade’ agreements with reciprocal access. The rest of the West African states should follow Nigeria’s example and abandon these arrangements.
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      Posted in Economics, Eurozone | 11 Comments

      The Weekend Quiz – July 8-9, 2017 – answers and discussion

      Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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        Posted in Saturday quiz | 4 Comments

        The Weekend Quiz – July 8-9, 2017

        Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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          Posted in Saturday quiz | 2 Comments

          More Germans are at risk of severe poverty than ever before

          Just how poorly the Eurozone is performing is usually illustrated with reference to Greece, then Spain, then Italy and Portugal. The weakest links among the Member States. Not to mention Cyprus, Finland and then some. But the other way of looking at the same question is to focus on the strongest link in the currency union – Germany. A new report from DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research) (released July 5, 2017) – Einkommensschichten und Erwerbsformen seit 1995 (Income levels and forms of employment since 1995), which is only available in German, tells a pretty sombre, if not bleak story as to what has been happening in the Eurozone’s powerhouse over the last 18 years. It demonstrates that not only is the German model wrong for the rest of the Member States, but it is also not generating sound outcomes for its own citizens – well the lower- and middle-classes to be more exact.
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            Posted in Eurozone | 16 Comments

            The rise of the “private government”

            I have always found it odd (read totally inconsistent) that people rail against government intervention as if it is a blight on our freedom, but ignore the ‘governance’ of workplaces by capital, who seek every way possible to destroy our freedom and initiative unless it is serving to advance their bottom line. We ignore the benefits of collective goods and laws that protect us, but turn a blind eye to the on-going, minute-by-minute, repression in the workplace. I was reminded of this again as I was reading a new book that came out in May 2017 – Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) – by American philosopher Elizabeth Anderson. She studies that way in which corporate America serves in effect as a “private government” minutely and vicariously controlling our daily working lives yet many of us still accept the construction that this is the ‘free market’ operating. It is when the word ‘free’ loses all meaning. I especially like her use of the term “private government” to reinforce the hypocrisy of the elites and the inconsistency of those (workers included) who call for small ‘government’ as if that is the exemplar of freedom.
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              Posted in Future of Work | 14 Comments

              Inflation abating in the Eurozone signals failure of ECB ideology

              The latest inflation data from the Eurozone tells us once again how wrong mainstream monetary theory is. Eurostat released its latest estimates (June 30, 2017) – Euro area annual inflation down to 1.3% – which has according to the press confounded the ECB, who has been trying to push the inflation rate up to around 2 per cent (a soft target). Like many economic things that confound the pundits, if you are familiar with Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) you won’t be surprised at all. All the baying at the moon that the ECB has been doing (courtesy of mainstream monetary textbook) won’t shift the inflation rate. Expanding bank reserves won’t shift the inflation rate. The real cause of the declining inflation rate is a lack of spending relative to productive capacity. And it is clear that the ECB has limited capacity to influence that gap. That is a matter for fiscal policy, which remains in austerity mode in the Eurozone as the leaders continue to talk about nothing.
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                Posted in Central banking, Eurozone | 6 Comments

                Something is rotten in the state of … Britain

                When I was trawling through the British fiscal statements in 2010 and 2011, hidden in all the detail (an obscure Annexe) was a very explicit statement that told me that the British government was inflicting austerity on the economy and relying largely on the growth of non-government indebtedness to offset the fiscal drag and restore the growth cycle. In the same documents but more visible (in the main fiscal statement), the Government was claiming that the non-government debt position that had deteriorated sharply in the lead up to the crisis was unsustainable as a growth strategy. The mainstream press didn’t pick up on the contradiction. Now, the same press seems alarmed with the latest data from the British Office of National Statistics that shows that the Government’s strategy has been working like a charm – the non-government saving ratio has plunged, household debt escalated sharply, non-mortgage debt has accelerated and to top of the impending disaster – real household disposable income growth has been negative for three successive quarters (the first time since the mid-1970s). None of these trends are surprising. I predicted them 6 or 7 years ago. I have been watching the results steadily unfold. But for the mainstream commentators it is all a big headline – ‘look at what we have discovered’ … As Marcellus in Hamlet notes as the dead king’s ghost appears in the palace – “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” although he might have been referring to modern-day Britain under the Tories (apologies to William Shakespeare).
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                  Posted in Britain, UK Economy | 15 Comments

                  The Weekend Quiz – July 1-2, 2017 – answers and discussion

                  Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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                    Posted in Saturday quiz | 2 Comments

                    The Weekend Quiz – July 1-2, 2017

                    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
                    Read the rest of this entry »

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                      Posted in Saturday quiz | 2 Comments