New hiring in January was a disappointment; not enough to pull mortgage rates down from 5.75 percent, but enough to buy another month of Fed patience. Today's report was, if anything, more disappointing than the news of a net gain of 125,000 jobs, barely half the hopeful forecasts. The key number: wages in January grew by only .1 percent. The economy is moving forward at a 4 percent annual clip, layoffs are down (though may be stabilizing near 350,000 each week), and people are getting hired, but in low-wage jobs. Huge gains in productivity are at the expense of labor, not yet to its benefit. The longer this pattern persists, the more sensible it is to accept it as a normal aspect of a changed economy. A cheap Fed, a half-trillion dollars in deficit spending, and we have the Slimfast economy, not a sustainable diet. Most in-the-trenches financial people (traders especially) hold all politicians in contempt, and see little cause-and-effect between election outcomes and real-world ...
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