So now it looks like the April 15 deadline for the US Treasury’s currency report is conveniently going to slip, largely because it would look a bit churlish to welcome Hu Jintao to Washington for the April 12-13 nuclear talks and then hang a big scarlet sign saying “MANIPULATOR” round his neck as soon as he steps off the plane. Most likely it will also slip beyond the “strategic and economic dialogue” meeting that the US is having with China in May. And then maybe beyond the G20 at the end of June? Or perhaps, if the US has piped down about the currency for a couple of months, China might announce a float, or a crawling revaluation, some time in June.
But one question is whether Congress is prepared to wait that long. Charles Schumer (Dem, NY, not a fan of China) wants to introduce his bill allowing a limited form of currency retaliation against China by the end of May. The key question for the coming weeks is how much patience Capitol Hill has with waiting both for the currency report and for Beijing to move. Congress might secretly be paragons of patience. But they sure don’t look like it.
And, of course, the monthly reminder: the BLS has reported a 168,000 payroll gain, but history is unlikely to remember March 2010 that way. Revisions to monthly payroll figures over the course of the downturn were, at one point, regularly exceeding 100,000. So whatever good (or bad) can be read from today’s report, it’s only temporary…
Here are the revisions to date: Read more
And finally…employment gains!
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March! And it increased 14,000 in January! So, including November, we’ve had three months of payroll gains since job losses began in January 2008.
Still a 162,000 gain is, at least, a psychological milestone: it is the first month of payroll gains reported as a preliminary reading. November and January were revised to gains only in the months after they were initially reported.
And looking beyond the headline figures, the gains generally boded well for a stabilising job market. Payrolls were boosted by private sector payroll gains rather than temporary census hiring. Still, the news wasn’t all good.
So, without further ado, March’s job loss winners and losers: Read more