"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's Happening Abroad?

Everything.  Everything is happening abroad.
Let's start with the antipodes, where Australia has released it's Labor Force Survey.  This is, in essence, the Australian equivalent of the US Employment Situation, and it's mixed.  Employment only increased by 2300[1] (missing expectations by 27,700), but the unemployment rate dropped 20 bps to 5.0$ (also beating expectations by 20 bps).  On the down side, the indications seem to be that this decline in the unemployment rate was mostly due to people falling into the "marginally attached" category, so it's not really a cause for celebration.
Spinning westward to Europe, we find that France released its December CPI at 1:30 AM EST, and the news is not good there either.  CPI increased 40 bps for the month to end up 0.5% (missing expectations by 10 bps), with 2010 CPI finishing at 1.8% (missing expectations by 10 bps).
Escaping from Dunkirk and coming ashore on the British Isles, where even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the economic downturn, they shall not flag or fail.  Specifically, Great Britain has released Industrial Production figures for November and the Bank of England has decided what they will do with the official interest rates and their quantitative easing ceiling.  The industrial production figures are a respectable, if slightly disappointing 60 bps increase to close at 0.4% (which still missed expectations by 30 bps).  Manufacturing output remained stable at 0.6% growth, beating expectations by 10 bps.  Meanwhile, the BOE has decided (to nobody's surprise) to leave their official interest rate unchanged at 0.5% (with the QE ceiling at £200 billion).
Crossing back across the English Channel to push across France, we arrive in Frankfurt, Germany, where the European Central Bank has, to nobody's great surprise, also left their benchmark rate unchanged at 1.0%.
[1]  That's 1700 full time jobs and 600 part time jobs.

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