Best Business Commentary
The psychological impact of employment numbers. The junk exchange between China and the United States.
With employment figures, “it’s the sign that matters,” says Caroline Baum in Bloomberg. “In reality, there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference statistically” between a monthly plus or minus of 50,000 jobs. But “we all catch our breaths” after even a small loss of 4,000 jobs, like in August. Employment numbers have a huge psychological impact on businesses and “working folks,” and they’re the “signature economic statistic for financial markets.” But while the markets are now sure of a Fed rate cut next week, it’s not clear that “a single economic report” really "changes anything—for the economy or for the Fed.”
China picks up the trash
The Chinese junk arrow points both ways, says Daniel Gross in Slate. Yes, China sold us $288 billion worth of rubbish last year—laced pet food, lead-covered toys, plastic doodads—but “in an act of macroeconomic karma,” we sold China $6.7 billion in literal junk. Chinese factories buy 42 percent of our exported scrap metal and recovered paper products to make the goods they sell back to us. It’s a “virtuous circle,” good for the U.S. scrap business and “tree-huggers” alike. And it may not single-handedly save the planet, but our junk trade at least puts to good use “a commodity that America produces in abundance.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
MOST POPULAR ON THE WEEK
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Why is American internet so slow?
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- The GOP must try to win over African-Americans
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-China war look like?
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
Subscribe to the Week