Thursday, October 15, 2009

Philly Fed and Employment to the Point…

To follow up on today’s update, Czar Point dug a little deeper into the weekly unemployment data and this is what he found:
Initial UC claims DID NOT fall last week by 10,000. Looking at the raw, unadjusted numbers, new claim filings JUMPED by nearly 52,000 to 504k over the prior week's upwardly-revised figure of 452k.

For week ending Sept. 26, total UC filings (initial and extended) totalled 917k, still way elevated, while the total number of folks receiving UC benefits (regular and EUC) remained high as well, @ 8.338 million.

The scary part is, between Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, 55k people exhausted their regular UC benefits, but only 10k were added to the EUC tally. That's a net 45,000 people who apparently had NO INCOME as October began.

Point also pointed to a Yahoo news snippet in regards to Citi’s earnings that puts their “one time” adjustments into perspective:
Regarding Citi, here's a snippet from Yahoo! Finance:

The bank reported a $101 million profit before accounting for $288 million in preferred stock dividends and the debt exchange offer that give the government a 34 percent stake in the bank. The exchange offer, which gave Citigroup a better mix of capital to withstand additional loan losses and further weakening in the economy, took earnings down $3.06 billion.

Whoa! Keep in mind that we still haven’t backed out mark-to-fantasy accounting… If the truth were revealed, all the large financial institutions in America would be complete and total toast – still, and certainly NOT making the phony billions that they proclaim.

Meanwhile, down on the streets of Philadelphia, the Philly Fed Index fell from its last reading of 14.1 in September, to 11.5 for October, lower than expected. Here’s Econoday’s spin:
Business conditions are improving for Mid-Atlantic manufacturers but only gradually. The Philadelphia Fed's general business index came at 11.5 in October, safely above the break-even zero level but indicating a slower rate of month-to-month increase compared to September's 14.1 level. But new orders did accelerate slightly, to 6.2 vs. 3.3 in September in a reading that points to extended overall improvement in business conditions for the months ahead.

Shipments, at 3.3, increased in the month but at a slower rate than September when the reading was 8.2. The modest level of shipping isn't increasing the need for manufacturers to add new hands and feet as the employment index, at minus 6.8, shows month-to-month contraction once again. Employees are a major cost for manufacturers as are inventories which continue to contract and at a much more severe rate, at minus 31.8 vs. minus 18.1 in September. The minus 31.8 reading, together with a negative reading in the inventories index of the Empire State report which was released earlier this morning, put into question the improvement recorded in the ISM's manufacturing report for September that indicated firms were beginning to shift into restocking mode. Delivery times in the Philadelphia report continue to speed up, at minus 9.3 vs. minus 8.9, to indicate slack conditions in the supply chain. Both the Philadelphia and Empire State reports show tangible rates of input inflation along with continuing contraction for output prices, a mix that's bad for profits but good for the overall inflation picture.

Though mostly positive, this report definitely has material for the bears including the six-month outlook where optimism is fading just a bit, to 39.8 for an 8 point drop. Stocks are slipping but only very slightly in reaction to the report. Indications are mixed for October's ISM manufacturing report, with this report pointing to no further gains in contrast to the Empire State report that is pointing to significant gains.

Again, these indexes are not showing the real picture. What you had was a cliff dive that lowered economic activity to extremely low levels. That cliff dive leveled out and is now growing very slightly, but still at recent history’s very reduced levels. This leveling off for now is being confused with real and meaningful growth which is not happening. People looking into the future and thinking that the future looks like the past of never ending growth are simply going to get a lesson in exponential math and how collapses behave. The government can stimulate all they want, they only make the math worse and the ultimate outcome all the WORSE. The fallacy that debt and more debt can cure a debt problem is simply INSANE. Those who believe that the government has free reign to print are INSANE. Eventually those who don’t understand math and twist the logic of Keynes will be shown the fallacy of their “thinking.”

I’m certain that the unemployed people on the streets of Philadelphia would be happy to show it to them!