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Michael J. Panzner
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Blog Entries by Michael J. Panzner

Stagflation Ahead?

Posted March 4, 2010 | 13:46:38 (EST)

Repeating a familiar pattern, U.S. nonfarm productivity surged in the fourth quarter as unit labor costs fell, indicating that businesses are making the most of a weak jobs market and squeezing more profit out of each worker.

2010-03-04-productivitylaborcostgap1.jpg

Not surprisingly, many economists viewed...

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Temporary Hiring: A Different Kind of Signal

Posted February 27, 2010 | 15:49:46 (EST)

A recent Associated Press report, "Temp Hiring No Longer Seen as Sign of Recovery," suggests that one economic rule of thumb no longer applies:

When employers hire temporary staff after a recession, it's long been seen as a sign they'll soon hire permanent workers.

Not these days.

...
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Businesses Cutting the Growth Cushion

Posted February 13, 2010 | 19:27:07 (EST)

Many mainstream analysts believe it won't be long before things return to "normal." But they are deluding themselves, especially as far as the job market is concerned.

For one thing, it now seems pretty clear that the economy that existed before the financial crisis hit had been artificially pumped up...

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Forecasting with a Grain of Salt

Posted February 11, 2010 | 19:41:25 (EST)

Bloomberg News is out with its latest monthly survey of economists' forecasts and, according to those polled, the U.S. economy "will grow 3 percent this year and next, more than anticipated a month ago."

Good news, right?

Well, maybe not. If you go back and look at how...

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A Growing Share of Americans' Income Comes From the Government

Posted January 29, 2010 | 14:34:27 (EST)

While most eyes were focused on the better-than-expected gross domestic product data for last year's fourth quarter, this week's report from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis also included details on U.S. personal income.

Along with wages and salaries, dividends and interest...

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Not a Positive Economic Picture

Posted January 11, 2010 | 21:07:00 (EST)

For months now, there's been considerable debate about whether the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery.

Bulls point to the massive monetary and fiscal stimulus that's been pumped into the economy, the sharp rebound in share prices, and the relative improvement in certain indicators as a reason for...

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An Alternative Read on Today's 'Bullish' Jobs Data

Posted December 4, 2009 | 15:28:39 (EST)

Economists and stock bulls cheered this morning's better-than-expected November employment report. But was the data as good as it seemed? Consider the following:

Temporary jobs

Could the nine-month rally in share prices and the positive spin pouring out of Wall Street and Washington have encouraged some owners and managers,...

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Economists: Wrong Again

Posted November 21, 2009 | 19:39:48 (EST)

As if they didn't cause enough damage by espousing theories that failed to account for the inefficiencies and irrationalities of the real world, many economists are advocating aggressive spend-and-borrow policies to revive the financial crisis-hit U.S. economy that reflect an astonishing degree of naïveté and ivory tower hubris.

In...

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Treasury Officials Meet With Financial Bloggers

Posted November 3, 2009 | 20:28:52 (EST)

Taking its cue, perhaps, from the Obama Administration's reported efforts to reach out to the political blogging community in the hopes of cultivating broad support for its ambitious agenda, the Treasury yesterday organized a meeting between various Department officials and a group of economics and finance bloggers.

Among the bloggers who attended the "discussion," which centered on financial reform, the...

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Words From the Wise?

Posted October 16, 2009 | 22:52:12 (EST)

I just got back from The Economist's "Buttonwood Gathering" in New York and thought I'd share a few of the more interesting (and, in some cases, quite enlightening) quotes (in no particular order) from the movers-and-shakers at the (well attended) conference:

Secretary Tim Geithner, United States Department of the...

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More Dependent on the Consumer than Ever

Posted October 4, 2009 | 14:28:59 (EST)

America's over-reliance on consumer spending helped create the mess we are in. To finance our spendthrift ways, we borrowed more than we could afford. We also saved less than necessary and bet that rising home and stock prices would make up the difference. In addition, our willingness to consume more...

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Feeding the Ducks on Wall Street

Posted September 16, 2009 | 17:03:44 (EST)

Since March, stocks have gone from strength to strength, recovering more than 40 percent of what they lost in the sell-off from the October 2007 peak. Not everyone is jumping on the bullish bandwagon, however. Reports indicate that many of those at Main Street's front lines are following the old...

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Housing: No Mood for a Recovery

Posted August 20, 2009 | 11:57:42 (EST)

Amid all their talk about a bottom in the housing market, the optimists are ignoring some key facts. For one thing, the costs of ownership remain high. Prices relative to incomes and rents are still above long-term averages. Mortgages are increasingly hard to come by, despite all...

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The Gifts That Keep on Taking

Posted August 11, 2009 | 18:15:57 (EST)

There have been plenty of discussions about how much the bailouts of the financial system will cost U.S. taxpayers, with estimates ranging from $2 trillion to as high as $24 trillion. But maybe the focus should be elsewhere. Even if we assume that the lower number is closer to...

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Wall Street's Gains Equal Main Street's Loss?

Posted July 24, 2009 | 20:58:38 (EST)

Stock prices have been on a tear lately, bolstered by quarterly earnings reports that have in many cases outpaced expectations and growing optimism that the worst of the crisis-cum-downturn is behind us.

The S&P 500 index, for instance, is up more than 40 percent since its early-March...

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How Long Before the Fed's Days Are Numbered?

Posted July 7, 2009 | 20:59:41 (EST)

It's no stretch to say the Federal Reserve is garnering a lot of attention these days.

On Wall Street, there's a big debate over whether the Fed's next big move will come too soon or too late. In Washington, the Administration is promoting a plan...

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Holes in the China Recovery Story

Posted June 3, 2009 | 17:37:41 (EST)

On Monday, China reported that its manufacturing sector had expanded for a third straight month. Along with Premier Wen Jiabao's plan to revive growth with a $586 billion stimulus package, the news bolstered hopes that one of the world's fastest growing economies was back on track, which would...

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The Trouble with Markets

Posted June 1, 2009 | 20:23:42 (EST)

In recent months, the spread between short and long-term bond yields has increased significantly, hitting record extremes. Many market-watchers believe the widening differential reflects two concerns.

The first centers on whether the market can absorb the tsunami of government bond sales needed to fund the various bailouts and stimulus measures...

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A Bad Connection in the Markets

Posted May 21, 2009 | 20:45:30 (EST)

At first glance, news that Standard & Poor's has placed the AAA rating of the United Kingdom under review for a possible downgrade would seem to have no real connection to the fact that U.S. bond yields jumped to six-month highs.

But that would be...

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Bogus Expert/Forecast Alert

Posted May 3, 2009 | 18:09:45 (EST)

I had some time to kill this afternoon and sat down to watch the boob tube (like I said, I had time to kill).

After flipping through several channels, I landed on CNN, where a host of "Your $$$$$" announced that a guest would be joining them after the...

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