The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Employment]
2017-07-19 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Employment , 208 references
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Make no mistake folks.  It's coming.

You have people who call it the "Amazon effect."  They liken it to when Ford started with cars, and suddenly buggies didn't make much sense, nor did horses.  Farriers went from common to near-extinct.  Oh sure, there were a few left, because some people owned horses for racing, or recreation.  But transportation?  That ended fast and so did a lot of jobs.

But when those jobs ended Henry Ford was there with an open factory door and hired all of them -- and then General Motors showed up and hired even more people.  Oh, and the cost of a car was less than the fully-loaded cost of a horse over time, never mind being faster and eliminating the literal tons of horse**** and******that the horses deposited daily all over city streets.

This is different.

I call it the monopoly effect, because it is.

Oh, and it's supposed to be illegal -- all of it.

But when you refuse to enforce anti-monopoly laws against health care providers, why would you enforce them against a big fat retailer?

You wouldn't of course and thus you don't.

This all sounds good, right?  Who doesn't like "lower prices"?

Well, among other things, all the people who get fired and now have nothing to buy with, lower prices or not.

Second, what makes you think actually lower prices result from this sort of behavior?  There's already plenty of evidence that you actually don't pay less in many cases and in fact you're likely to pay more, because your options decrease.  Simple economics tell us that with fewer choices you have less competitive pressure and prices go up, not down.

But back to the employment facts

There are nearly 16 million people employed in retail trade today -- and that's only the direct employment.  Then you have the people who keep the malls and buildings maintained, cleaned and otherwise open, along with the transportation that feeds all those locations both for the goods and for you to get there to shop.  Of course not all of this goes away when 10 stores close and Spamazon gets the business since they have warehouses and transport needs too, but their needs are far more concentrated and employ far fewer people -- like 1/5th or less than the retailers did both directly and indirectly.

Further, these are jobs that, while not particularly well-paying, do provide a means of subsistence -- and not just to those without college degrees either.  How many people working in those stores have a degree but can't find a job in-field?  Plenty.

Then there are the professional services.  Payroll, accounting, legal, architectural and other design, waste hauling, administrative.

What are we talking about here -- maybe 20% of the workforce finding itself out of work within the next handful of years if Spamazon and its friends are allowed to continue on their present path?

What do you intend to do with those people?

I have no idea, but this I do know: Monopolies don't lower prices overall, although they all argue they will through "economies of scale."  They put people out of work and screw those who remain, because they can -- on both the supply side and the demand side.  In other words prices go up instead of down, choice goes down instead of up, people lose jobs instead of gaining them and the suppliers to said business get screwed as well which radically increases the economic damage net-net across the economy.

Over 100 years ago Congress passed laws to make this sort of crap illegal for that very reason.  Those are good laws, not bad ones.  Yet today we simply don't care any more -- not in health care and not with Spamazon either.

Maybe the market is wrong on the "forward expectations" for Spamazon.  In fact, I bet it is, at least with regards to Whole Paycheck for reasons I've pointed out before.  Not only is food -- especially fresh food -- not like any sort of other packaged goods, but in addition the cultural differences between the workforces at both firms are so stark that you have to believe Bezos either thinks he can steamroller the people who work there or he had such a raging hard-on for the deal that he didn't even take a cursory look at the depth of the problems he will face trying to mold Whole Foods' employees into Spamazon's model of what a "good employee" is.  For starters there's the fact that Spamazon drug tests everyone who wants to work there while Whole Foods doesn't.  Care to take a wager on what percentage of their employees in, say, Colorado are burning a doobie on a regular basis?

Given how Wall Street has treated Beelzebub, er, Bezos over the last decade and more I suspect it's the second -- but whichever it is, he's in for a hell of a surprise on both the supply and employment sides of the ledger with this one.

You can take that to the bank -- if you still have a job.

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2017-07-07 08:50 by Karl Denninger
in Employment , 182 references
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Hmmmm....

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 222,000 in June, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, social assistance, financial activities, and mining.

So says the establishment survey.

What does the household say, less all so-called "adjustments"?

It says +679,000which is wildly above the "establishment."  But -- last month it was +145, previous +634, and then back to back numbers over 1 million.

I do remind you this is the month called June.  Usually heavy seasonal summer hiring happens in May. This time it appears to have happened in June.  You can get that in one or the other depending on the survey week, which is a calendar thing.

What's much more impressive is that people came back into the workforce in spades -- 1.167 million of them, to be exact.  This pushed the employment:population ratio to 60.4%, which sure looks like a breakout to me -- although unconfirmed.

Thus ends the good news, but don't kid yourself -- it's significant.

The internals of the household data tell the tale; among age groups teen unemployment dropped a full percentage point, which is the usual for the summer seasonal hiring.  Adult men saw unemployment go up by two tenths, while adult women were flat.

In other words on balance all of this gain was among kids; it was all seasonal on a net-net basis.

Oh, and if you want to see why nobody will take the health care scam on?  It's "employing people", even though it's all a ripoff and bankrupting the country.

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