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Best Business Commentary
The psychological impact of employment numbers. The junk exchange between China and the United States.
 

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mployment signs

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.”
 

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