Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wild data

If you remember last month, the ADP jobs report was wildly off the mark and I asked if we could please stop paying attention to this crazy piece of data. The ADP jobs data has been such a terrible predictor of the BLS jobs report that it's laughable at this point.

So what happens in December? Economists expect ADP to publish a number showing 100k private sector jobs added. Instead they say 297,000 jobs were added in December blowing every estimate out of the water.

Now that's the headline but there were a variety of caveats that no one noticed. For example, the vast majority of the "jobs created" were created at small businesses, and 270k of the 297k jobs created were in the service sector.

Conveniently enough later in the same day the ISM service index was released and that report came in roughly as expected --- with one exception --- the employment index fell again. So ADP says there was a massive uptick in service jobs but the service industry is reporting that they are laying people off.

Tomorrow's job report will hopefully sort this out a bit. Estimates for this number have spread all over the map after the ADP report and the expectation now is for 175k jobs added (but I've seen numbers in 500k range). It should be interesting.

Can you imagine if two nuclear powers came to blows over onions? I'm not saying it will escalate that far, but there is some serious upheaval in India right now over the price of onions. There were some weather issues related to the crops but the main issue seems to be that India's merchants have decided they have a captive audience that likes their onions so they will charge whatever they feel like charging. Prices have risen in recent days to roughly $1/lb which might not sound bad to you but in a nation where roughly 500 million people survive on less than $2 per day $1 per pound of onions is probably like you paying $75 for a gallon of milk.

Pakistan didn't help it's image in India today when it stopped a convoy of onion deliveries from passing through the border to India.

Now prices are skyrocketing for tomatoes as well. As someone who is very familiar with the basic ingredients of India cooking (tomatoes, potatoes, onions, rice, wash, rinse, repeat) I'd say that this is a story worth watching.

Ah, the giant monster mega banks continue to succeed at destroying their image at every turn. Consider this case -

1. Your blind Grandmother gives you a small check for Christmas.

2. She used a red pen because she can't see so well.

3. The bank's scanners can't read the red ink so do they

a) call you to verify?

b) call your Grandmother to verify ?

or c) shutdown your account, stop all deposits into your account, close the account and accuse you of fraud?

If you're paying attention I think you'll know the answer but here's the full story.

I hope you're having fun working on your life lists. Here's your next topic:

3 best things I ever made – This can be hard for non-creative types like yours truly, but I'm sure some of you would have a hard time keeping the list at just 3 things.


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