Jobs report: Creative levels of accounting gimmickry
The jobs report came in with a good headline number at 255,000. Wall Street went ballistic and even noticed a twinge of euphoria Friday morning. Hold the phone, I’m concerned it isn’t what it seems. You’ve seen me flat out say from time to time I think some fundamental number is a complete fabrication. I think this number is on the level. But I also think they got there by the most creative levels of accounting gimmickry.
If you read John Crudele from the New York Post, you will come to appreciate the Labor Department computes the monthly number with a series of seasonal adjustments, then they end up revising it. In his Saturday column he explains the job market would collapse every summer because teachers are temporarily off the job. It would also look like it’s booming in September when they return he explains. “Christmas would look like a hiring boom. January would look like a depression.” Do you catch the drift of what he is saying?
Now, what he is saying is the Democrats want to be sure the economy looks as good as possible this election season, with the Republicans just the opposite. That’s how it works for the incumbent and opposition party. Nothing new there. He goes on, “According to the Labor Departmen,t there were 19,073 people working in political organizations leading up to the last big election in 2012. By contrast, last year when there were no national elections that figure was only 8,000.”
Finally, Crudele explains the Labor Department surveys throughout the month but their key day is the 12th. So if you are on the payroll that day, even if for only 1 hour for the entire month, you are considered employed for the purposes of the number. So there were 2 key numbers in this report. The government added 38,000. How many of these were for the purposes of the election?
Then there is the matter of healthcare, which added 43.000. I’ve noted in this space several times the bailouts involved in the insurance companies. I’ve also discussed skyrocketing premiums. No bailouts or subsidies, no new health care jobs. That accounts for 81,000 and if you take that out we get 174,000 which the bare bones minimum needed to start absorbing new entrants like college grads into the labor pool. Now you can argue there will always be some extra-curricular event helping the jobs number and you’d be right. You can also build a case that government stimulus of all kinds is designed to help employment so what is the big deal with health care? Once again you are right.
However, eight years out from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, shouldn’t we really be doing a lot better? Is this a recipe for sustained financial growth? Should the stock market go ballistic over something like this?
You got Crudele’s point, now you have mine. So, if the jobs number is 255,000 how could GDP be at 1.2%? You see, one of those numbers is not right and in time the truth will be revealed.
So the stock market continues to power higher into the next set of time windows, now at 721 weeks off the 2002 bottom. Wednesday will be a series of Gann cardinal cross numbers as well as 1800 days from the top of gold market several years ago so says my friend Alan Lax from Ryefield Capital in New York who keeps track of such things. He’s an old student of mine but a Gann aficionado on his own merit who sent me an interesting calculation in addition to others. A rare registered investment adviser who does Gann. He rightly says that from the Aug. 24 low of 1867 in the S&P 500, 352 days to the 10th, this Wednesday, would cause the SPX to line up at 2219, a 352-point move in 352 days. Given we are in striking distance, this is very interesting to me.
Of course, he has other cardinal cross calculations lining up right there.
Here’s the problem with gold, Its already off the high. Will it recover to get a new high by Wednesday? It’s best chance to recover is developing on Sunday night with a high of 1374 turning on the 76th hour. This action can go a long way in determining whether the 10th will be a low or a high.