May Jobs Report Terrible; Stimulus Game is Up?

  on June 03 2011 11:27 AM
Job seeker at employment fair
Job seeker at employment fair REUTERS

The May jobs report was terrible. The unemployment rate went up to 9.1 percent and the economy only added 54,000 jobs.

Fifty-four thousand jobs clearly isn’t enough.

It won’t power economic growth, boost consumer spending, and lift the real estate market.  It’s not even enough to keep up with the expansion of the labor force, so the unemployment rate will go up.

Moreover, April’s and March’s jobs numbers were downwardly revised.

Friday’s poor jobs report is consistent with the many other recent economic reports that were equally bad or even worse, particularly in the housing market.

So what does this all mean? QE3? Double-dip recession? Fire and brimstone? 

Not quite (at least not yet), according to most economists, even the bearish ones. What many of them do think, however, is that the government stimulus game is up.

Since 2008, the US government expanded the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet from $869 billion to $2.7 trillion and approved $787 billion in fiscal stimulus.

Now, the stimulus game may be up. 

First, the majority of the stimulus is already paid out. Second, the bang for the buck is diminishing.

“Bottom line…the US economy cannot gain any self-fulfilling growth where production growth/services lead to job gains/income growth, which leads to demand for goods and services, which lead to more production/services,” said Peter Boockvar of Miller Tabak.

Will the economy get worse?

Douglas Borthwick of Faros Trading thinks so.

“With the QE2 sugar high wearing off, and Congress still unwilling to take a stand for the future of US finances, we expect the double-dipping in housing to spread throughout the rest of the US economy,” he said.

Michael Pento of Euro Pacific said: “I’m not surprised at all. You’re seeing the effect of stimulus starting to wear off…This is just the beginning.  You’re going to have a lot of these disappointing numbers.”

Will there be QE3?

Michael Woolfolk of BNY Mellon doesn’t think it’s going to happen. 

“While this may have persuaded Bernanke and company to pursue QE3 six months ago, today is a different story given the pace of inflation. QE2 will end at the end of June, with virtually no chance of QE3 being discussed by the FOMC, let alone being implemented,” he said.

Pento thinks it’s not imminent. However, it’s possible down the road.

“Right now we still have positive job growth and positive GDP growth…But when negative numbers come in for the next few quarters, I think QE3 will eventually come,” he said.

 

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