Yes, financial markets too are being affected by the World Cup. So far today, trading is quiet – even though today is one of the famous Triple Witching Days (which is not about Harry Potter but the day each quarter when contracts in three main markets must be settled and which are famous for being unpredictable). Sometimes however thin markets can be volatile.
U.S. financial markets this week have continued to be dominated by global capital seeking a safe haven in U.S. Treasury instruments, as the eurozone continues to struggle getting its fiscal problems under control. When safe haven effects kick in due to fears about problems with the U.S. recovery or elsewhere, investors turn to U.S. Treasury instruments and U.S. interest rates go down. When investors become more bullish over U.S. economic prospects (including relative to other countries), the U.S. stock markets looks better and assets are shifted from the bond markets.
In testimony before the House Budget Committee this week, Ben Bernanke called for a plan to be put in place now to reduce deficits once the economy recovers. Already being a (frequently re-affirmed) member of the Announcement Effect Club, Bernanke's testimony was no surprise to readers of our blog or anyone who is familiar with Bernanke's public statements.
Chairman Bernanke's testimony today underscored the fundamental lack of sustainability of the growing federal budget deficit, while simultaneously defending the large increases in deficit spending that were necessary to support economic recovery. Bernanke predicts real GDP to grow at 3.5% over the course of 2010, yet he acknowledged that this must be tempered by latent problems in the housing market.
Yes, today’s employment news from May is disappointing – even though there are some encouraging signs.
Let’s start with the bright side: the unemployment rate edged down (to 9.7% from 9.9% in April, a lot better than the 10.1% high of last October); job creation was positive for the fifth month in a row (it has been increasingly positive every month this year); and the job number was what we like to hear (+431,000). So, more people are working now.
Today's May jobs report was a surprise to many economists, who had expected stronger private sector gains. Government-hired Census workers accounted for over 95% of the new jobs; and construction jobs were weaker than anticipated. What does the job report tell us about job gains ahead - is the job market strengthening or weakening?
Sometimes daily observation helps to answer tough economic questions.
Jeanne Sahadi wrote for CNN today on the sometimes-overlooked short-term perils that the growing US debt could create, and how they affect the average American today. Our debt can be linked to slower economic growth, higher interest payments, scaled-down government services, and higher inflation. The problems created will be more difficult to address—and the choices will be harsher—the longer that lawmakers take to deal with this problem.
Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
The OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based think tank for the 31 richest countries) released its twice-a-year economic outlook yesterday. It presented a bleak fiscal picture for many of the member countries (including the United States) unless governments make policy changes, but, constructively, it also presented possible ways forward for countries to get their fiscal house in order.
Larry Summers gave a very interesting and thoughtful talk in Washington recently (May 24).
But it was delivered in High Oracular Econospeak, so many people may never get it.
And reasonable people can come away with very different interpretations of Dr. Summers’ High Oracular Econospeak.