Previously published September 28 in the “California Economic Forecast”: The saga of the Great Recession continues. Over six million people have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, and job growth may be slow enough in the next few months that the unemployment rate rises again. Major revisions to GDP, released in late July, show… Read more

In the 1960s, the Federal Reserve attempted to conduct an operation to lower longer term yields and raise short-term yields.  This maneuver was called “Operation Twist” and the purpose was to stimulate private sector borrowing and spending.  It is generally agreed that the policy was modestly successful in temporarily pushing long-term rates lower. There are… Read more

Europe has been in the news a lot lately. One day it has a plan to, temporarily at least, deal with the debt problems of delinquent members, and markets climb. The next day there is a glitch and markets fall. What is going on here? Why are markets so spooky? We’re witnessing what are almost… Read more

Interest rate spreads are returning to higher levels, levels that indicate financial and economic instability. This could indicate that an economic regime shift may occur this year. The normalized TED, which is the 3 month LIBOR minus the 3-month Treasury divided by the 3-month Treasury, has reached a level not seen since the fall of 2008.… Read more

In a widely read NYT editorial, famous investor Warren Buffett has proposed tax increases for the rich, like himself.  Although one of the richest men in the world, Mr. Buffett claims that he pays a lower tax rate than the secretaries in his office.  That seems really strange.  The data put forth by Warren are… Read more

A bank’s capital ratio is a ratio in which the numerator is a measure of capital (like common equity) and the denominator is a measure of assets (usually risk-weighted assets). Bank executives sometimes take the reciprocal of this ratio and call it “leverage.” More commonly, leverage is defined to be the ratio of debt to… Read more

In a newsletter about three months ago, I acknowledged some improving economic conditions in Oregon, but counseled that it was no time to become complacent. That turns out to have been right on. Since then, seasonally adjusted job growth has dramatically slowed, and seasonally adjusted unemployment has increased. When Oregon had some good job numbers,… Read more

Today’s jobs data release was below our forecast, and that is bad. It is even worse, when one considers the productivity data released earlier in the week. That report showed that productivity has fallen in each of the past three consecutive quarters. This is the most sustained decline since 1979. Productivity used to have a… Read more