Sunday, February 9, 2014

Another U.S. Labor Estimate Miss, and Two Digital Currency Items

A month ago, investors were shocked when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 74,000 jobs were added during December, significantly below economists' estimates of about 197,000. This past Friday, BLS reported that 113,000 jobs were added in January, below expectation for 180,000.  Also, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.6%, down from 6.7% in December and the labor-force participation rate improved slightly, to 63.0%.  Sectors with the best improvement weremanufacturing and construction, up 21,000 and 48,000 jobs respectively, while sectors declining the most were the government - down 29,000 and retail - down 13,000. 

As the Winter Olympics started in Sochi, Russia; Russia’s government clarified its view on Bitcoin and other alternative currencies saying that “Russia’s official currency is the ruble. The introduction of other types of currencies and the issue of money surrogates are banned”.  Separately, following speculation that the U.S. Postal Service might implement digital currency transaction services to help boost revenue, Joseph Corbett, its financial officer said “At the moment, we have no current plans to be involved in that market,” but that the agency would “continue to look at it.” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said, “As we’ve 

MY TAKE

  • Regarding U.S. Labor reports - With economists missing estimates two months in row, in both cases citing winter weather, perhaps the phrase the fog of war (the sense of uncertainty a solder has about his capabilities during battle) should be adapted to economists, where the “fog of investing” applies to the uncertainty of spreadsheet analytics performed independent of changing economic and environmental factors.  With leadership and policy changes taking place at the Federal Reserve – the fog of investing may become even foggier. 
  • Regarding Bitcoin in Russia - the government’s actions are not surprising – now the question is will suppression reduce or acceleration Bitcoin’s use in the region.
  • Regarding the U.S. Postal Service – it makes sense to allow the digital currency market to mature before engaging in it more actively.  it makes sense to allow the digital currency market to mature before engaging in it more actively.  At the same time, their interest highlight the potential for digital currency in funds transfer activities.

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