April’s 14.7 percent unemployment rate, announced by the Labor Department last Friday, is awful by any standard. The official tally shows that unemployment increased by 15,938,000 people last month—to 23,078,000 overall—resulting in the highest jobless rate since the Great Depression.
2019 ended on a mostly consensus note. The private payroll jobs trend remained clearly healthy. The jobless rate set a new cycle low (marginally). Aggregate hours worked came in below expectations but, with productivity gains and a surge in net exports, FMI is still looking for +2.5% or so real GDP growth for 19Q4.
Chicago and Mexico are inextricably intertwined on multiple levels. The Midwest has structural similarities to the Mexican economy, especially in terms of the dominance of its manufacturing sector. Chicago has the largest Mexican-American population in the country outside of Los Angeles, more than three quarters of a million people. We even share a connection in the natural world. This is the season when a kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies swarm through Chicago, on their way to spend the winter in Mexico.
The rout in oil markets continued in November, the markets worst month in 10 years. Oil prices West Texas Intermediate (WTI) down by 22%, to their lowest level in 13 months. In the past few months, oil markets have moved from balanced to oversupply, which sent oil prices (Brent) crashing by one-third from a high of $86/bbl at the beginning of October to under $60/bbl at the end of November.
The recent removal of term limits for the presidency from the Chinese Constitution represents a further tightening of President Xi JiPing’s grip on power. While he was not up for reelection until 2019, term limits were an obstacle to his grandiose plans for establishing China as a major economic, military and political superpower over the next few years or even decades. While the rise of China as a global power was inevitable, it has been facilitated by the vacuum left by the rapid decline of the U.S. global position under President Trump.
California teachers have teamed up with an East Coast activist hedge fund to petition Apple Inc. to step up its game and give parents the tools and choices they need to ensure smartphones don’t damage children’s health. Together, CalSTRS and JANA Partners are turning an old adage on its ear about gifting shiny apples to teachers.