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Despite stumbles, the Biden economy earns a B+ – Yahoo Finance



Consumers are bummed out, but they may be underestimating the health of the economy.

Eight months into Joe Biden’s presidential term, the economy earns a robust B+ grade, according to the Yahoo Finance Bidenomics Report Card. Our report card uses data provided by Moody’s Analytics to compare the Biden economy to that under seven prior presidents, going back to Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. We did the same for President Trump, beginning in 2017.

We track six economic indicators to assess the economy as ordinary people experience it: total employment, manufacturing employment, average hourly earnings, exports, stock prices and GDP per capita. Biden gets top marks in two of those categories—employment and exports—and high marks in three other categories. The weakest Biden numbers relate to earnings, though those have improved recently.

Source: Moody's Analytics, Yahoo FinanceSource: Moody's Analytics, Yahoo Finance

Source: Moody’s Analytics, Yahoo Finance

Timing is a huge factor in every president’s economic performance. Biden took office as the coronavirus vaccines were just becoming available and the pandemic recovery was ramping up. That’s why job gains under Biden have been so strong: employers have been hiring back millions of workers they let go during last year’s sharp downturn. The 4.8 million jobs gained under Biden, in fact, are 70% more than the second-best performance, which was 2.8 million jobs gained at the same point in Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

During Donald Trump’s first 8 months as president, the economy gained 1.4 million jobs. Under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, the economy lost 3.8 million jobs during the same timeframe. Again, timing: Trump took office amid a slow but prolonged recovery that continued until the Covid pandemic ended it in 2020. Obama took office during a brutal recession that had been underway for 13 months and would continue for the first four months of his first term.

Consumer confidence doesn’t reflect the relatively sound state of the economy, at the moment. Confidence rose during Biden’s first four months in office, as the vaccine rollout seemed to promise a return to normalcy. But confidence has fallen since midsummer as the Covid Delta variant kidnapped normalcy. Other pressures weighing on consumers include rising gas prices, product shortages and broader inflation worries. Our report card doesn’t track confidence directly, but other indicators would capture a collapse in confidence if it weakens underlying fundamentals.

Real GDP growth has been strong under Biden, registering the best performance since early in Jimmy Carter’s presidency. But that, too, is something of a distortion, reflecting a strong snapback after last year’s drop in output. Economists in recent weeks have been slashing their growth forecasts due to the Delta slowdown. A recession isn’t in the cards, but consumers can get gloomy when decelerating growth makes it feel like things are going the wrong direction.

Earnings under Biden started out terribly, coming in at the lowest level in three of his first five months. Earnings have picked up a bit since then, but this is yet another pandemic peculiarity. Average earnings soared in the pandemic’s early days, because lower-income workers were far more likely to lose their jobs, pushing average earnings up among those still working. Lower-income workers are returning, but average earnings remain jumpy. They might be going up as employers raise pay to attract workers, but it’s not clear if recent gains will hold.

Stocks, of course, soared after the first month of the pandemic, thanks largely to extraordinary monetary stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve. They’re still up under Biden, though the market registered bigger gains at the same point in Obama’s presidency, and in George H. W. Bush’s.

Presidents tend to get more credit or blame for the economy’s performance than they deserve. Many factors influence the economy, from international trends to asset bubbles that could brew for years before erupting. Our report card does not suggest that Biden’s policies are responsible for the direction of the economy under his watch. But voters will reward or punish Biden and his fellow Democrats as if they are, which is why we put the Biden economy in historical context.

The economy can also drift beyond any president’s ability to control it. Jimmy Carter, for instance, would have had a B+ grade, like Biden, eight months into his presidency. But by the end of his one-term presidency, inflation had eroded wage growth, output had slowed and Carter’s economic performance dropped to a C+. The Trump economy average B+ during his first year, but drooped to a C during his last, as the Covid pandemic snarled everything. Obama, by contrast, improved modestly, from a C to a B- during the same timeframe. Biden no doubt wants to improve on his former boss’s record.

Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.” Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman. You can also send confidential tips, and click here to get Rick’s stories by email.

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China economy slows; officials say recovery ‘unstable and uneven’ – Al Jazeera English



Officials say GDP grew at its slowest place in a year in the third quarter, amid power cuts, property woes and COVID-19 concerns.

China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a year in the three months that ended in September, buffeted by power shortages, supply bottlenecks and sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19, increasing pressure on policymakers amid rising concern about the health of the property sector.

Data released on Monday showed gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.9 percent in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier, the slowest since the third quarter of 2020. The growth was also below economists’ expectations with a Reuters poll of analysts expecting GDP to rise 5.2 percent and a poll by the AFP news agency predicting growth at 5 percent.

“We must note that current international environment uncertainties are mounting and the domestic economic recovery is still unstable and uneven,” National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) spokesman Fu Linghui said on Monday.

China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, expanded 7.9 percent in the second quarter, and 18.3 percent in the first quarter, which benefitted from comparison with the COVID-19-induced slump of early 2020.

Meanwhile, industrial production growth slowed further to 3.1 percent on-year in September.

“Growth was dragged down by a slowdown in real estate, amplified recently by spillover from Evergrande’s travails,” Oxford Economics’ head of Asia economics Louis Kuijs told AFP.

There are increasing concerns about the property sector with industry giant Evergrande struggling with more than $300bn in debt [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

The struggles of property giant Evergrande – struggling with debts amounting to more than $300bn – have been made prospective buyers cautious.

Kuijs noted there was an “additional hit in September” from electricity shortages and production cuts due to the strict implementation of climate and safety targets by local governments.

He added that the damage was visible in the slowdown of industrial output.

Victor Gao, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, told Al Jazeera the latest data was on the “lower side” but added that China remained “confident” it could reach growth of about 8 percent for the year.

“That would make China one of, if not the, best performers among the larger economies in the world,” he said.

Chinese leaders, fearful that a persistent property bubble could undermine the country’s long-term ascent, are likely to maintain tough curbs on the sector even as the economy slows but could ease some measures if needed, policy sources and analysts said.

“In response to the ugly growth numbers we expect in coming months, we think policymakers will take more steps to shore up growth, including accelerating infrastructure development and relaxing some aspects of overall credit and real estate policies,” Kuijs told the Reuters news agency.

Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that China has ample tools to cope with economic challenges despite the slowing growth, and the government is confident of achieving full-year development goals.

Retail sales picked up to 4.4 percent – from 2.5 percent in August – with fewer virus containment measures in China, which has imposed swift local lockdowns over a handful of coronavirus cases.

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Stock Markets Today: EU economy, China GDP, Bitcoin, Squid Game – Bloomberg



Good morning. Euro area economy vulnerable to shocks, China growth slows, Bitcoin rallies and Squid Game’s value. Here’s what’s moving markets.

Highly Vulnerable

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned that the globalized nature of the euro area’s economy makes it highly vulnerable to systemic shocks from supply chain disruptions. Lagarde also said the current spike in inflation is unlikely to last, while vowing to continue aiding the euro-area economy as the fallout from the pandemic lingers. Supply bottlenecks, cost pressures, and a reopening letdown are already set to plague region’s third-quarter earnings season. 

Slowing Growth

China’s economy weakened in the third quarter, weighed by multiple headwinds from a property slump to an energy crisis. Gross domestic product expanded 4.9% from a year earlier, down from a previously reported 7.9% in the preceding quarter. People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said authorities can contain risks posed to the Chinese economy and financial system from the struggles of China Evergrande Group.

Bitcoin Rallies

Bitcoin rallied early Monday after falling over the weekend, ahead of an anticipated U.S. exchange-traded fund approval. It fell both Saturday and Sunday to nearly $59,000 before climbing over $62,000 on Monday. Bitcoin is in focus as the first futures ETF tied to the token may debut Monday, according to a filing. Analysts expect profit-taking and volatility surrounding the decision.

Squid Game

Netflix estimates that its latest megahit, “Squid Game,” will create almost $900 million in value for the company, according to figures seen by Bloomberg, underscoring the windfall that one megahit can generate in the streaming era. The show stands out both for its popularity, and its relatively low cost, at just $21.4 million, less than Dave Chappelle’s new special “The Closer”. The viewership details are likely to cheer investors, who have regained enthusiasm for Netflix after several bumpy months, partly because “Squid Game” has been so popular.

Coming Up…

European futures are steady while contracts on U.S. stock benchmarks are pointing lower after last week’s strong performance. Oil advanced after an eighth weekly gain with the market facing a global energy crunch ahead of winter. Meanwhile, Koninklijke Philips will be among the European companies announcing results on Monday while State Street will report in the U.S. Also, Apple will finally unveil its redesigned MacBook Pro, the first revamp in five years.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours. 

And finally, here’s what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning

Hedge funds have given up betting against short-term Treasuries, at least one gauge of positioning shows. Net leveraged-fund futures and options positions in two-year notes turned positive for the first time since April 2018, according to the latest Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. Two-year Treasury yields have surged some 25 basis points since early June as traders brought forward wagers on Federal Reserve rate hikes. The flip to net-long could suggest fast-money funds see a pause coming in the short-term yield spike, though some of the positioning is likely part of broader bets on the direction of the U.S. yield curve. In the interest-rate market, a full hike is now priced in for September next year, with traders about 50/50 in calling for one in June. That’s an aggressive move in a short space of time now given so much uncertainty over the path for inflation and growth until then.

#lazy-img-380107657:beforepadding-top:56.25%;Leveraged funds turn net long two-year Treasuries futures

Cormac Mullen is a cross-asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

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    Oil prices climb to highest in years as COVID recovery, power generators stoke demand



     Oil prices hit their highest in years on Monday as demand continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, boosted by more custom from power generators turning away from expensive gas and coal to fuel oil and diesel.

    Brent crude oil futures rose 87 cents, or 1%, to $85.73 a barrel by 0111 GMT, the highest price since October 2018.

    US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.12, or 1.4%, to $83.40 a barrel, highest since October 2014.

    Both contracts rose by at least 3% last week.

    “Easing restrictions around the world are likely to help the recovery in fuel consumption,” analysts from ANZ bank said in a note on Monday.

    “The jet fuel market was buoyed by news that the U.S. will open its borders to vaccinated foreign travellers next month. Similar moves in Australia and across Asia followed.”

    They added that gas-to-oil switching for power generation alone could boost demand by as much as 450,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter.

    Still, supply could also increase from the United States, where energy firms last week added oil and natural gas rigs for a sixth week in a row as soaring crude prices prompted drillers to return to the wellpad.

    The U.S. oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose 10 to 543 in the week to Oct. 15, its highest since April 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said last week.

    China’s economy, meanwhile, likely grew at the slowest pace in a year in the third quarter, hurt by power shortages, supply bottlenecks and sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks.

    The world’s second-largest oil consumer issued a new batch of oil import quotas for independent refiners for 2021 that show total annual allowances were lower than last year, a first reduction of import permits since these firms were allowed into the market in 2015.


    (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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