Thursday, 7 February 2008

Initial Jobless Claims Remain Elevated

Last week's high intial jobless claims number turned out not to be a fluke. Not that anyone who has been paying attention to recent economic data thought it was.



In the week ending Feb. 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 356,000, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 378,000. The 4-week moving average was 335,000, an increase of 8,500 from the previous week's revised average of 326,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1 percent for the week ending Jan. 26, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate of 2.0 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Jan. 26 was 2,785,000, an increase of 75,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,710,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,727,750, an increase of 24,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,703,500.

After a couple of soft weeks in the new year due to seasonal adjustments the 4 week moving average is again on the rise toward that critical 350,000 number. Not that I need it punch through 350k to confirm my recession call. Economic numbers out of the US just keep getting worse.

The debate over whether the US is in, or is going into a recession is not particularly interesting anymore except as a point of amusement when watching the permabulls desperately trying to deny reality.

Now the debate has shifted to how deep the recession will be. Still, the average mainstream economist thinks that the recession will be mild and quick like the previous one and that it is largely already priced into the stockmarket.

That may be so but what if it turns out to be deeper and more severe (as I suspect it will) than most Wall Street lemmings think? The question is then how much of it hasn't been priced in.