Monday, June 16, 2014

Wall Street and A Dirty Little Secret

by Bill McBride on 6/16/2014 12:26:00 PM

Josh Brown mentioned a post today at A Wealth of Common Sense: How The Unemployment Rate Affects Stock Market Performance. The author is discussing investing ...

The unemployment rate is a perfect example of the fact that the best times to invest are when things seem the worst.
This reminds me of something I wrote in May 2011: Employment: A dirty little secret
[I]t really isn't much of a secret that Wall Street and corporate America like the unemployment rate to be a little high. But it is "dirty" in the sense that it is unspoken. Higher unemployment keeps wage growth down, and helps with margins and earnings - and higher unemployment also keeps the Fed on the sidelines. Yes, corporations like to see job growth, so people have enough confidence to spend (and they can have a few more customers). And they definitely don't want to see Depression era unemployment - but a slowly declining unemployment rate (even at 9%) with some job growth is considered OK.
And from others, like Kash Mansori, also in 2011: Why a Bad Job Market is Good News for Some
[T]his opens up an interesting line of reasoning, one that is certainly not new but which this data reminds us of. If a bad labor market means that workers get a smaller share of the productivity they bring to their employers, then the owners of companies will have a strong preference for a weak labor market. Firms don't like recessions, of course -- it's hard to make money when your sales are falling. But companies do enjoy the way that a very slow recovery in the job market can allow them to keep wages down, and thus keep a larger share of the output of their workers for themselves.
And from Paul Krugman: The Plight of the Employed
And may I suggest that employers, although they’ll never say so in public, like this situation? That is, there’s a significant upside to them from the still-weak economy. I don’t think I’d go so far as to say that there’s a deliberate effort to keep the economy weak; but corporate America certainly isn’t feeling much pain, and the plight of workers is actually a plus from their point of view.
The good news is we might finally be seeing the beginning of more wage growth.

Last 10 Posts