Stocks are down…gold is up to a new record high of $869.
Commodities are at a new record high too – which is why Argentina’s economy is flying…with a growth rate second only perhaps to China!
The euro is back up (the dollar down)…and cousin Obama won the Iowa Democratic caucus.
Today is what our buddy Chuck Butler calls a ‘Jobs Jamboree Friday’, the day that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases their employment report. The BLS data is always watched pretty closely, but December’s is especially important, considering the barrage of negative data we’ve seen this past week.
Chuck sees the jobs data as “the difference maker.” In other words, it will determine if the dollar recovers in January or not.
Well folks, the results are in…and it’s not good. According to the report, employers added the fewest new jobs to their payrolls in more than four years.
“The unemployment number jumped from 4.7 percent in November to 5 percent in December, the highest since November 2005 after the Gulf Coast hurricanes dealt the country a mighty blow,” reports the AP . “Payrolls – both private and government – grew by just 18,000 last month, the worst showing since August 2003, when the economy suffered job losses as it struggled to recover from the 2001 recession.”
This data is much bleaker than economists had forecasted, and has spurred recession fears even further. All in all, not a great way to start 2008.
And in case you missed it: “U.S. Auto Sales are drying up,” writes Chuck in today’s issue of The Daily Pfennig .
“Even Toyota suffers along with Ford and GM! It finally looks like the U.S. consumer is getting pinched. Auto sales for the year were down for all except Honda and Hyundai. I would say that the structural decline for the U.S. Automakers is quite pronounced…and it looks to me that another sub prime/ mortgage meltdown tentacle has wrapped around another economic sector!”
“Do you have an oar on this boat?”
It was the sort of question a father feels he should ask. His son had just put on his captain’s hat and was firing up the outboard engine. But the motor seemed reluctant to go to work. It sputtered. It spun over a few times. By the time the Evinrude finally caught and began to purr, your author thought it might be time to ask about Plan B.
“Yes, of course, there is an oar,” came the slightly annoyed answer.
A young man rarely thinks about Plan B. He expects Plan A to work. An older man, on the other hand, turns to the fallback plan almost from the outset. Not that he is a pessimist; he has just seen too many Plan A’s that didn’t pan out.
The above scene took place on Christmas Day. You author had come down to Buenos Aires, where his eldest son is living, to spend the holidays. The whole family, or most of it, had gathered in a charming waterfront cottage down in “the Delta” – an area, near the town of El Tigre. The place might remind some readers of the bayous of Louisiana. Others might find in it traces of Venice, Italy. But to your author, who has never seen the former, and therefore cannot make a comparison…and who has seen the latter up-close, and therefore knows that any comparison would be fraudulent…it reminded him of home. Well, it reminded him of the waterfront communities along the Chesapeake Bay when they were still trashy and charming. Now, of course, they’ve all gone up-market…Washington lawyers pay millions of dollars for houses in bay-side communities. But back in our youth, they were the rough hangouts of oystermen, retired teachers, and water-loving riff- raff.
Many of the houses in the Delta are on stilts. The water rises regularly, and sloshes over sea walls.
“We sometimes take a canoe to get from the dock to the front door,” our son explained.
More to come…horses…auto crashes…and washed-out bridges…