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The Strangest Recession Of Our Lifetimes

The Strangest Recession Of Our Lifetimes

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times,

The evidence of economic weakness and decline fill…

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The Strangest Recession Of Our Lifetimes

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times,

The evidence of economic weakness and decline fill the headlines day by day, with major banks reporting lower earnings, big box stores with excess inventories, home sales skidding, and consumer sentiment crashing.

Meanwhile, inflation in all sectors is raging so high and hot that it has overtaken every other issue that polls say matter in the lives of average Americans.

This inflationary recession—also called stagflation—is an odd beast in any case. The combination of both purchasing power declines and falling productivity violates not only every modeling presumption made since the Keynesian revolution of the 1930s but also just plain intuition. Higher prices are supposed to signal higher demand and/or tighter supply, not lower demand and higher supply.

So yes, this is strange. We are going to have to get used to it. It’s what happens when the money itself loses its integrity. The whole point of money in the first place—the essence of its economic utility—is to provide a common tool of measurement to facilitate trade and enable accounting. Its emergence permits investors, producers, and capital owners to assess the economic rationality of their actions.

When money blows up and no longer serves as a reliable guide to economic realities, various degrees of chaos ensue. You can feel like you are getting richer when you are really getting poorer. What can seem like profits are really losses. What seems like a hopeful environment can quickly switch to the other direction and become despair.

This is why inflation induces such fear in every sector of life.

We learned this in the 1970s as stagflation gradually took over in successive waves until it was stopped in 1981 by two major shifts: tighter money and a policy emphasis on strong economic growth. Today we are getting the former but not the latter, virtually guaranteeing a serious quagmire that will last at least two more years. The economic damage of this period will be too enormous to contemplate.

But let’s take a careful look at the strangest anomaly of all: the unemployment rate. It is historically low right now, at 3.6 percent. That is far lower than it has ever been during any impending recession. In fact, it is as low as any period since the end of World War II.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

And yet, everyone knows that this is not a reason for hope: the labor participation rate is about where it was forty years ago, as if the whole experience of a more inclusive workforce never happened. It is also currently falling. There are reasons both demographic and cultural for this but it is impossible to understand without reference to the egregious and devastating effects of lockdowns.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

In other words, the official unemployment rate measures only those who are looking for work right now. It does not count those who are not looking for work (or who have figured out how to pay the bills by working unofficially).

That makes sense in a way. Why count people who are not even looking for work as part of the unemployed masses?

On the other hand, it is a case of how a statistically accurate number can create a seriously misleading picture.

By any standard, this measure of economic health is broken. Every recession on record in the 20th century has been marked by high unemployment. This pattern has been so strong that it has confused even smart economists, many of whom came to believe that the labor problem was itself a cause—rather than an effect—of the recession. They often sought to solve this issue through benefits and job creation programs, policy tricks that have never worked.

Today, this no longer works. But this points to a larger problem: most of these data sets are overly aggregated. The big number treats all “workers” as a whole without regard to demographics. The Department of Labor tries to break it down by categories but not in ways that are particularly helpful. We can find out all kinds of things about race and gender but not much about the issue that really terrifies people: which income groups are most vulnerable to job insecurity today.

Only about 20 percent of U.S. workers are able to earn more than $100,000 per year but these are the target jobs that every single college graduate wants. Ironically, this is because everyone knows that these are the jobs that require the least work and offer the most benefits. They are the Zoom jobs that everyone wanted to have during the lockdowns because it meant getting up late, wearing PJs all day, and starting cocktail hour mid-afternoon.

Life was good! Better than good!

My friends, beware. Everything we are seeing among current economic trends suggests that these jobs, more than any other, are vulnerable to being slaughtered in tight economic times.

This would be the opposite of the 2008 recession. Back then, unemployment peaked at 10 percent. But a more careful look at the numbers showed something incredible. This affected the high incomes not at all: their rate of unemployment never went above 3.2 percent.

A breakdown of the data revealed that the unemployment of that period hit mostly the working classes earning wages, while leaving the upper incomes untouched. The disparity of economic suffering was the single most salient feature of that period.

This time, we face something completely different. There is a huge shortage of workers willing to earn relatively lower incomes, show up to the office, earn wages, and actually work with their hands, drive the trucks, move the boxes, and make the food. There is, on the other hand, a huge surplus of workers demanding huge salaries to stare at screens, stay home, gossip on Slack, and otherwise deploy their generous benefits packages to their maximum extent.

This recession will very likely be felt in the labor markets severely but the impact will not be among those who are willing to do actual work versus earn high incomes by virtue of their college credentials. The people who are in for a rude awakening are those who have heretofore imagined that their CVs alone would guarantee a good life.

In other words, this will be a “welcome-to-reality” moment for the entire class of people who rode out the pandemic response by “staying home and staying safe” while expecting the working classes to serve their every need. They gladly took their stimulus checks even though they saw no interruption in their income streams, while figuring out clever ways to trick their bosses into believing they were productive while doing almost nothing at all.

Perhaps the best term for our times is: reckoning. Thanks to massive government spending and the magic printing press, the administrative state created a fake world in which the overclass thrived for at least two years. Some might say that this fakery actually began in 2008 and continued through the whole decade.

In the end, economic reality can be slow to dawn but the dawn can burn very bright once it happens. This inflationary recession will be one for the ages. It could be a rare instance in which the overclass itself feels the most pain while workers with actual skills and the desire to produce will find a way to make it through despite every obstacle.

The “essential workers” are about to find out just how essential they really are.

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/16/2022 - 17:30

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Economics

Growing Surgical Revenue and Automating OR Processes a Top Priority for Health Systems

Growing Surgical Revenue and Automating OR Processes a Top Priority for Health Systems
PR Newswire
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 5, 2022

Survey finds 95% of health system executives desire more automation and less reliance on manual OR processes
MOUN…

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Growing Surgical Revenue and Automating OR Processes a Top Priority for Health Systems

PR Newswire

Survey finds 95% of health system executives desire more automation and less reliance on manual OR processes

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Increasing surgical services revenue is a top priority for healthcare systems, with automation seen as a way to accomplish it, according to a new survey of healthcare executives conducted by The Health Management Academy.

Seventy-six percent of respondents named increasing surgical services revenue as a top priority, while half the health systems represented said they plan to increase investments across their surgical services in the next two years.

The survey, which was conducted in August 2022 in partnership with Qventus, the leading provider of AI-based software for care operations automation, was completed by 21 executives whose titles include chief medical officer, chief operating officer, VP of perioperative services, VP of operations, VP of surgical specialties, surgical chair, clinical enterprise lead and business operations director for surgical services. The responding executives represent 19 health systems with an average total operating revenue of $6.3 billion.

Key findings include:

  • Increasing surgical services revenue is a top priority for the majority (76%) of executives. About half (52%) of health systems are planning to increase investments across the surgical service line in the next two years.

  • Health system executives are focused on end-to-end growth strategies. Top strategies to increase surgical revenue growth include: improving operating room (OR) scheduling and access (81%), growing case volumes (71%), and increasing surgical referrals to reduce patient leakage (57%).

  • The majority (71%) of executives report 11% to 30% of their health system's OR time is not optimally used.

  • Nearly all (95%) of surveyed healthcare systems are looking to automate OR scheduling more and rely less on manual processes.

  • All (100%) executives agree there is opportunity to improve surgeon satisfaction rates. Their strategies for improving satisfaction include addressing burnout, streamlining internal processes and using technology to augment manual tasks.

"This data confirms what we hear from our leading health system members: executives know their financial recovery from the pandemic depends on growing surgical revenue, and that requires driving integrated strategies that optimize access, case volumes and mix, as well as market share. Leaders recognize that manual processes are holding them back, and they view automation as an essential capability to grow their surgical services revenue," said Brian Contos, SVP of Research & Member Insights at The Health Management Academy.

The crisis in surgical revenue has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages, which have cut into hospital operating margins. As a result, healthcare systems are looking for technology that will allow them to maximize their existing capacity without adding resources.

"The survey findings validate what we've been hearing from our health system partners," said Mudit Garg, Co-founder and CEO of Qventus. "Hospitals are focused on making their perioperative services more productive and efficient, but their existing tools and EHRs are incapable of doing it. To gain a new competitive advantage, they need a new approach and are turning to automation software."

The Qventus Perioperative Solution is the only solution that automates strategic growth of surgical services. By combining AI & machine learning, behavioral science, and comprehensive data, the solution creates new white space on OR and surgical robot calendars, automatically fills open times with strategic cases, and identifies referral and outmigration improvement opportunities — while also giving visibility into OR & surgeon performance. As a result, health systems can unlock over 50% of blocks otherwise unused, increase robotic cases by 33%, and add over 2 cases per OR per month using existing resources.

To view the full report, click here.

About Qventus

Qventus is the leading provider of AI-based software for care operations automation. Integrating with EHRs, the Qventus platform uses AI, machine learning, and behavioral science to power best-practice solutions for inpatient, perioperative, emergency department, and command center settings. As a partner to leading health systems and hospitals across the country, including Boston Medical Center, HonorHealth, M Health Fairview, Saint Luke's Health System, and ThedaCare, Qventus delivers proven outcomes, including over 2 new surgical cases added per operating room per month, 30-50% fewer excess days, and 1 full day reduction in length of stay. For more, visit https://qventus.com/.

Media Contact:

Jim Sweeney
Amendola Communications on behalf of Qventus
(216) 650-3376
jsweeney@acmarketingpr.com

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/growing-surgical-revenue-and-automating-or-processes-a-top-priority-for-health-systems-301640744.html

SOURCE Qventus

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Government

JOLTs jolted: Did the Fed break the labour market?

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the number of job openings, a measure…

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In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, the number of job openings, a measure of demand for labour, fell to 10.1 million. This was short of market estimates of 11 million and lower than last month’s level of 11.2 million.

It also marked the fifth consecutive month of decreases in job openings this year, while the August unemployment rate had ticked higher to 3.7%, near a five-decade low.

In the latest numbers, the total job openings were the lowest reported since June 2021, while incredibly, the decline in vacancies of 1.1 million was the sharpest in two decades save for the extraordinary circumstances in April 2020. 

Healthcare services, other services and retail saw the deepest declines in job openings of 236,000, 183,000, and 143,000, respectively.

With total jobs in some of these sectors settling below pre-pandemic levels, the Fed’s push for higher borrowing costs may finally be restricting demand for workers in these areas.

The levels of hires, quits and layoffs (collectively known as separations) were little changed from July.

The quits rate (a percentage of total employment in the month), a proxy for confidence in the market was steady at 2.8%.

Source: US BLS

From a bird’s eye view, 1.7 openings were available for each unemployed person, cooling from 2.0 in the month prior but still above the historic average. 

The market still appears favourable for workers but seems to have begun showing signs of fatigue.

Ian Shepherdson, Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics noted that it was too soon to suggest if a new trend had started to emerge, and said,

…this is the first official indicator to point unambiguously, if not necessarily reliably, to a clear slowing in labour demand.

Nick Bunker, Head of Economic Research at Indeed, also stated,

The heat of the labour market is slowly coming down to a slow boil as demand for hiring new workers fades.

Ironically, equities surged as investors pinned their hopes on weakness in headline jobs numbers being the sign of breakage the Fed needed to pull back on its tightening.

Kristen Bitterly, Citi Global Wealth’s head of North American investments added,

(In the past, in) 8 out of the 10 bear markets, we have seen bounces off the lows of 10%…and not just one but several, this is very common in this type of environment.

The worst may be yet to come

As for the health of the economy, after much seesawing in its projections, which swung between 0.3% as recently as September 27 and as high as 2.7% just a couple of weeks earlier, the Atlanta Fed GDPNow estimate was finalized at a sharply rebounding 2.3% for Q3, earlier in the week.

Rod Von Lipsey, Managing Director, UBS Private Wealth Management was optimistic and stated,

…looking for a stronger fourth quarter, and traditionally, the fourth quarter is a good part of the year for stocks.

As I reported in a piece last week, a crucial consideration that has been brought up many a time is the unknown around policy lags.

Cathie Wood, Ark Invest CEO and CIO noted that the Fed has increased rates an incredible 13-fold in a span of just a few months, which is in stark contrast to the rate doubling engineered by Governor Volcker over the span of a decade.

Pedro da Costa, a veteran Fed reporter and previously a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, emphasized that once the Fed tightens policy, there is no way to know when this may be fully transmitted to the economy, which could lie anywhere between 6 to 18 months.

The JOLTs report reflects August data while the Fed has continued to tighten. This raises the probability that the Fed may have already done too much, and the environment may be primed to send the jobs market into a tailspin.

Several recent indicators suggest that the labour market is getting ready for a significant deceleration.

For instance, new orders contracted aggressively to 47.1. Although still expansionary, ISM manufacturing data fell sharply to 50.9 global, factory employment plummeted to 48.7, global PMI receded into contractionary territory at 49.8, its lowest level since June 2020 while durable goods declined 0.2%.

Moreover, transpacific shipping rates, a leading indicator absolutely crashed, falling 75% Y-o-Y on weaker demand and overbought inventories.

Steven van Metre, a certified financial planner and frequent collaborator at Eurodollar University, argued

“…the next thing to go is the job market.“

A recent study by KPMG which collated opinions of over 400 CEOs and business leaders at top US companies, found that a startling 91% of respondents expect a recession within the next 12 months. Only 34% of these think that it would be “mild and short.”

More than half of the CEOs interviewed are looking to slash jobs and cut headcount.

Similarly, a report by Marcum LLP in collaboration with Hofstra University found that 90% of surveyed CEOs were fearful of a recession in the near future.

It also found that over a quarter of company heads had already begun layoffs or planned to do so in the next twelve months.

Simply put, American enterprises are not buying the Fed’s soft-landing plans.

A slew of mass layoffs amid overwhelming inventories and a weak consumer impulse will result in a rapid decline in price pressures, exacerbating the threat of too much tightening.

Upcoming data

On Friday, the markets will be focused on the BLS’s non-farm payrolls data. Economists anticipate a comparatively small addition of jobs, likely to be near 250,000, which would mark the smallest monthly increase this year.

In a world where interest rates are still rising, demand is giving way, the prevailing sentiment is weak and companies are burdened by excessive inventories, can job cuts be far behind?

The post JOLTs jolted: Did the Fed break the labour market? appeared first on Invezz.

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Spread & Containment

Measuring the Ampleness of Reserves

Over the past fifteen years, reserves in the banking system have grown from tens of billions of dollars to several trillion dollars. This extraordinary…

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Over the past fifteen years, reserves in the banking system have grown from tens of billions of dollars to several trillion dollars. This extraordinary rise poses a natural question: Are the rates paid in the market for reserves still sensitive to changes in the quantity of reserves when aggregate reserve holdings are so large? In today’s post, we answer this question by estimating the slope of the reserve demand curve from 2010 to 2022, when reserves ranged from $1 trillion to $4 trillion.

What Are Reserves? And Why Do They Matter?

Banks hold accounts at the Federal Reserve where they keep cash balances called “reserves.” Reserves meet banks’ various needs, including making payments to other financial institutions and meeting regulatory requirements. Over the past fifteen years, reserves have grown enormously, from tens of billions of dollars in 2007 to $3 trillion today. The chart below shows the evolution of reserves in the U.S. banking system as a share of banks’ total assets from January 2010 through September 2022. The supply of reserves depends importantly on the actions of the Federal Reserve, which can increase or decrease the quantity of reserves by changing its securities holdings, as it did in response to the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 crisis.

Reserves Have Ranged from 8 to 19 Percent of Bank Assets from 2010 to 2022

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG”); authors’ calculations.

Why does the quantity of reserves matter? Because the “price” at which banks trade their reserve balances, which in turn depends importantly on the total amount of reserves in the system, is the federal funds rate, which is the interest rate targeted by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in the implementation of monetary policy. In 2022, the FOMC stated that “over time, the Committee intends to maintain securities holdings in amounts needed to implement monetary policy efficiently and effectively in its ample reserves regime.” In this ample reserves regime, the Federal Reserve controls short-term interest rates mainly through the setting of administered rates, rather than by adjusting the supply of reserves each day as it did prior to 2008 (as discussed in this post). In today’s post, we describe a method to measure the sensitivity of interest rates to changes in the quantity of reserves that can serve as a useful indicator of whether the level of reserves is ample.

The Demand for Reserves Informs Us about Rate Sensitivity to Reserve Shocks

To assess whether the level of reserves is ample, one needs to first understand the demand for reserves. Banks borrow and lend in the market for reserves, typically overnight. The reserve demand curve describes the price at which these institutions are willing to trade their balances as a function of aggregate reserves. Its slope measures the price sensitivity to changes in the level of reserves. Importantly, banks earn interest on their reserve balances (IORB), set by the Federal Reserve. Because the IORB rate directly affects the willingness of banks to lend reserves, it is useful to describe the reserve demand curve in terms of the spread between the federal funds rate and the IORB rate. In addition, we control for the overall growth of the U.S. banking sector by specifying reserve demand in terms of the level of reserves relative to commercial banks’ assets.

There is a clear nonlinear downward-sloping relationship between prices and quantities of reserves, consistent with economic theory. The chart below plots the spread between the federal funds rate and the IORB against total reserves as a share of commercial banks’ total assets.  When reserves are very low, the demand curve has a steep negative slope, reflecting the willingness of borrowers to pay high rates because reserves are scarce. At the other extreme, when reserves are very high, the curve becomes flat because banks are awash with reserves and the supply is abundant. Between these two regions, an intermediate regime–that we refer to as “ample”–emerges, where the demand curve exhibits a modest downward slope. The color coding of the chart reflects the shifts in the reserve demand curve over time. In particular, the curve appears to have moved to the right and upward around 2015 and then moved upward after March 2020, at the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Reserve Demand Has Shifted over Time

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG,” “IOER,” and “IORB”); authors’ calculations.

This chart highlights two of the main challenges in estimating the slope of the reserve demand curve. First, the curve is highly nonlinear, which means that a standard linear estimation approach is not appropriate. Second, various long-lasting changes in the regulation and supervision of banks, in their internal risk-management frameworks, and in the structure of the reserve market itself have resulted in shifts in the reserve demand curve. A third challenge is that the quantity of reserves may be endogenous to banks’ demand for them. Therefore, to properly measure the reserve demand curve, one must disentangle shocks to supply from those to demand. As we explain in detail in a recent paper, our estimation strategy addresses all three of these challenges.

Estimating the Slope of the Reserve Demand Curve

Our approach provides time-varying estimates of the price sensitivity of the demand for reserves that can be used to distinguish between periods in which reserves are relatively scarce, ample, or abundant. The chart below presents our daily estimates of the slope of the demand curve, as measured by the rate sensitivity to changes in reserves. Although we do not have a precise criterion for when reserves are scarce versus ample, during two episodes in our sample, the estimated rate sensitivity is well away from zero. The first episode occurs early in our sample, in 2010, and the second emerges almost ten years later, in mid-2019. In two other periods—during 2013-2017 and from mid-2020 through early September 2022—the estimated slope is very close to zero, indicating an abundance of reserves. The remaining periods are characterized by a modest negative slope of the reserve demand curve, consistent with ample (but short of abundant) reserves. The overall pattern of these estimates is robust to changes in the model specification, such as including spillovers from the repo and Treasury markets or measuring reserves as a share of gross domestic product or bank deposits (instead of as a share of banks’ assets).

Rate Sensitivity Changed over Time, Following the Path of Reserves

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG,” “IOER,” and “IORB”); authors’ calculations.

Interest Rate Spreads Alone Are Not Reliable Indicators of Reserve Scarcity

As we discuss in our paper, the time variation in the estimated price sensitivity in the demand for reserves is based on observations of small movements along the demand curve due to exogenous supply shocks. The location of the curve itself, however, also changes over time. That is, there is not a constant relationship between the level of reserves and the slope of the reserve demand curve.  

In our paper, we find evidence of both horizontal and vertical shifts in the reserve demand curve, with vertical upward shifts being particularly important since 2015. This finding implies that the level of the federal funds-IORB spread may not be a reliable summary statistic for the sensitivity of interest rates to reserve shocks, and that estimates of the price sensitivity in the demand for reserves provide additional useful information.

In summary, we have developed a method to estimate the time-varying interest rate sensitivity of the demand for reserves that accounts for the nonlinear nature of reserve demand and allows for structural shifts over time. A key advantage of our methodology is that it provides a flexible and readily implementable approach that can be used to monitor the market for reserves in real time, allowing one to assess the “ampleness” of the reserve supply as market conditions evolve.

Gara Afonso is the head of Banking Studies in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Gabriele La Spada is a financial research economist in Money and Payments Studies in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.   

John C. Williams is the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  

How to cite this post:
Gara Afonso, Gabriele La Spada, and John C. Williams, “Measuring the Ampleness of Reserves,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, October 5, 2022, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2022/10/measuring-the-ampleness-of-reserves/.


Disclaimer
The views expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author(s).

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