The Economy in Context: February 2019

The biggest news is that the labor force participation rate has crept up to 63.2%, though only 0.3 points higher than where it was when the current administration took office, it’s still the highest it’s been since 2013. The bad news is that the unemployment rate crept up with it to 4.0% and, as I’ve pointed out before, will continue to do so.

The preliminary net jobs created in January was 304,000 but notice the big December number of 312,000 net jobs created was revised downward to a more modest 222,000 net jobs, a net loss of 90,000 fewer jobs. This was slightly offset, however, by a revision upward of November numbers to 196,000 jobs created from 176,000.

The Federal Reserve has made no moves to raise the federal funds rate. That didn’t go well the last time they did, and the economy remains no less fragile in 2019 than it was in 2018. The shutdown did no favors to the economy, and there’s reason to believe that there will be another government shutdown in the upcoming weeks.

Trade talks with China remain a wild card that can stave off an economic slowdown in 2019, or, if things go south in trade negotiations, take the economy of both countries down with it. However, either a shutdown or the trade talks crumbling could spark a sell off or a wider correction. This is on top of growing concerns in the Eurozone.

Italy has gone into recession, and that could spell bad news for Europe and, of course, the United States. We will have to wait and see what happens in the next few weeks.

Liberty is For The Win!

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