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Unemployment rates and mortgage rates both under 4%

The unemployment rate is currently at 3.9% and we had another big print from the household survey which showed 651,000 jobs gained.
The post Unemployment rates and mortgage rates both under 4% appeared first on HousingWire.



Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 199,000 jobs were created in December — a miss from estimates. They also reported we had 141,000 in positive revisions to the previous jobs report. The unemployment rate is currently at 3.9% and we had another big print from the household survey which showed 651,000 jobs gained. For men and women age 20 and over, the unemployment rate is currently at 3.6%.

Unlike the previous expansion, where the jobs recovery was slow, we have a much different dynamic this time around. Job openings are still over 10 million and I am still smiling here as I was the one person on Twitter finance that had been tweeting out #JOLTS 10,000,000 well before the job opening data took off. I have always believed that no country has a Dorian Gray labor market. People forget that job openings were above 7 million in the previous expansion before COVID-19 hit us. Nature, aging, and deaths are powerful economic forces, and robots never took all the jobs.

Jobless claims data recently hit levels last seen in 1969.

With that said, the household survey jobs data is much stronger, showing an average three-month gain of 723,000 versus the BLS data running at 365,000. We do have enough labor to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels and I do expect over time to see significant positive revisions to jobs data this year. I have been counting the months to see if my forecast would be correct.

With nine months left until the end of September 2022 (the milestone in my forecast), let’s see how much progress we need:

  • Feb 2020: 152,553,000 jobs
  • Today: 148,951,000 jobs
  • That leaves 3,602,000  jobs left to gain in the next 9 months, which is 400,222 jobs per month. With a 3.9% unemployment rate!

Here is a look at the job gains and losses reported today. Construction jobs came in positive but we still have a fairly high level of construction job openings currently. The lack of construction productivity over the decades has been one reason why I have never believed in a housing construction boom in America. The other reason is that the builders don’t ever oversupply a housing market, so when demand fades, so will construction.

The builders have been complaining about labor for many years. However, the builders confidence index has picked up because they believe they can sell their product and make money since they have pricing power. This also means housing starts are rising. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. 

Remember that when looking at jobs data, it’s always about prime-age employment data for ages 25-54. The employment-to-population percentage for the prime-age labor force is 1.5% away from being back to February 2020 levels. The jobs recovery in this new expansion has been much better than we saw during the recovery phase after the great financial crisis.

Education and employment

Most people who want to work in our country are employed on a regular basis. I know that some people blame COVID-19 for not going back to work, but context is key: the majority of the country’s population is working today. The part of the labor force with the least educational attainment tends to have a higher unemployment rate. On Twitter, I started the hashtag A Tighter Labor Market Is A Good Thing to remind everyone that the economy runs hot when we have a tighter labor market.  We want to see the kind of unemployment rates that college-educated people have spread to everyone, because we have tons of jobs that don’t need a college education.

The unemployment rate for those that never finished high school has been falling sharply lately, which means the labor market is getting tighter and tighter every month. You want to have this problem rather than the other way around.

Here is a breakdown of the unemployment rate and educational attainment for those 25 years and older: —Less than a high school diploma: 5.2%.
—High school graduate and no college: 4.6%.
—Some college or associate degree: 3.6.
—Bachelor’s degree and higher: 2.1%.

As you can see above, life is great for those looking for a job. For companies that need labor, it’s not the best news, but again, it’s first-world American problems — the economy is hot! As I have stressed from April 7, 2020, the U.S. recovery was going too fast, which would shock many people because they had no faith in their economic models.

With near record-low unemployment and massive job openings, you would assume mortgage rates should be skyrocketing, but they’re not.

The 10-year yield and mortgage rates

My 2022 forecast said: For 2022, my range for the 10-year yield is 0.62%-1.94%, similar to 2021. Accordingly, my upper end range in mortgage rates is 3.375%-3.625% and the lower end range is 2.375%-2.50%. This is very similar to what I have done in the past, paying my respects to the downtrend in bond yields since 1981.

We had a few times in the previous cycle where the 10-year yield was below 1.60% and above 3%. Regarding 4% plus mortgage rates, I can make a case for higher yields, but this would require the world economies functioning all together in a world with no pandemic. For this scenario, Japan and Germany yields need to rise, which would push our 10-year yield toward 2.42% and get mortgage rates over 4%. Current conditions don’t support this.

Yes, it does seem strange, we have the hottest economy in decades and inflation is hot but the 10-year yield as I write this is at 1.75%. Don’t forget the trend is your friend on bond yields and mortgage rates for decades. We had a major fall in headline inflation that didn’t take bond yields lower in the same way in 2009-2010 and now you’re seeing the reverse with a short-term spike in the inflation rate of growth with yields not rising either.

Even though we haven’t tested 1.94% yet, we are getting to an exciting area where we might be able to see the first real test of 1.94% since 2019. Keep an eye on the close of the 10-year yield today and see if we get some bond market sell-off next week. If not, the bond market can rally and yields can fall short term as we are oversold on the bond report.

Economic cycle update

Now for an economic update. So far, so good, even with the Omicron cases exploding higher, we simply don’t see the economic and market reacting any more as we have learned to consume goods and services with an active virus infecting and killing us each day. This has been the case since the second surge in 2020, and even though sectors of the economy will not perform at total capacity with cases rising, it’s just not like what we saw in March of 2020.

The St. Louis Financial Stress Index, a crucial variable in the AB recovery model, is still acting bored out of its mind with a recent print of -0.9201%. This will rise when the markets react to stress, so don’t assume we will be at these low levels forever. We still haven’t had a stock market correction of 10% plus since the March lows in 2020. 

The leading economic index has been very solid lately, when this data line falls for 4-6 months straight, then the topic becomes different. However, this hasn’t been the case, it bottomed in April of 2020 and has had a sharp rebound. 

Retail sales are still off the charts, but I don’t believe we can have the type of growth we saw last year. Moderation is the key to retail sales data going out, but what a crazy ride in 2021. Expect less purchases on goods and more service spending going out, especially when we are finally done with COVID-19.

The personal savings rate and disposable income are very healthy to keep the expansion going! Even though the disaster relief has faded from the economic discussion, both these levels are good to go as employment has picked up a lot from the COVID-19 lows.

However, just like I had an America is Back recovery model on April 7, 2020, I have recession models and raise recession red flags as the expansion matures. In the previous month’s jobs report, I raised one of the flags as the unemployment rate got to 4% and the 2-year yield was above 0.56%, which means the Fed rate hike is on.

Once the Fed raises rates, the second recession red flag will be raised. My job is to show you the progress of the economic expansion, into the next recession, and out — over and over again. My models don’t sleep! Once more red flags are raised, I will go over each and every single one. At some point in the future, I will be on recession watch, when enough red flags are up. However, we are not in that time yet. Even though I no longer say we are early in the economic expansion, we are still on solid footing.

The post Unemployment rates and mortgage rates both under 4% appeared first on HousingWire.

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A dog has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, highlighting risk of the virus infecting pets and wild animals

The monkeypox virus can easily spread between humans and animals. A veterinary virologist explains how the virus could go from people to wild animals in…



A dog in Paris has become the first case of a pet contracting monkeypox from its owners. Cavan Images via Getty Images

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places – where it has historically been absent – resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

A microscope image of a bunch blue circles in a brown-colored cell.
The monkeypox virus – the blue circles in this image of an infected cell – is a poxvirus similar to smallpox and cowpox and can easily infect many different species. NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

A species-jumping virus

Monkeypox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola – the virus that causes smallpox – and cowpox viruses and likely evolved in animals before jumping to humans. Monkeypox causes painful lesions in both humans and animals and, in rare cases, can be deadly. Researchers have found the monkeypox virus in several species of wild rodents, squirrels and primates in Africa, where the virus is endemic. Monkeypox does not need to mutate or evolve at all to be able to infect many different species. It can easily spread from animals to people and back again.

Though there is a fair bit of research on monkeypox, a lot more work has been done on cowpox, a similar zoonotic poxvirus that is endemic in Europe. Over the years, there have been several reports of cowpox infection spreading from animals to humans in Europe.

From people to animals

Until recently, most monkeypox infections occurred in specific areas of Africa where some wildlife species act as reservoirs for the virus. These outbreaks are usually contained quickly through isolation of infected individuals and vaccinating people around the infected individual. The current situation is very different though.

With nearly 40,000 cases globally as of Aug. 17, 2022 – and more than 12,500 cases in the U.S. alone – monkeypox is now widespread within the human population. The risk of any one person transmitting the virus to an animal – particularly a wild one – is small, but the more people are infected, the greater the chances. It’s a numbers game.

There are a number of ways viruses can transfer from animals to people – called spillover – and from people back to animals – called spillback. Since monkeypox is most easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, it is a bit more difficult to transmit between species than COVID-19, but certainly possible.

The case of the dog in Paris provides a clear example of how cuddling or being close to a pet can spread the virus. Previous studies on poxviruses like monkeypox have shown that they can stay active in fecal matter. This means that there is a risk of wild animals, likely rodents, catching it from human waste.

A grey rat.
There are a number of species that host monkeypox in Africa – like this gambian rat. Monkeypox can spread from humans to many other animals, including dogs and likely cats and other species of rodents. Louisvarley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The monkeypox virus is also present in saliva. While more research needs to be done, it is potentially possible that an infected person could discard food that would then be eaten by a rodent.

The chances of any one of these events happening is extremely low. But I and other virologists worry that with more people becoming infected, there is a greater risk that rodents or other animals will come into contact with urine, feces or saliva that is contaminated with the virus.

Finally, there is the risk of people giving monkeypox to a pet, which then passes it on to other animals. One case study in Germany described an outbreak of cowpox that was caused when someone took an infected cat to a veterinary clinic and four other cats were subsequently infected. It is feasible that an infected household pet could spread the virus to wild animals somehow.

How to help

One of the key reasons that the World Health Organization was able to eradicate smallpox is that it only infects people, so there were no animal reservoirs that could re-introduce the virus to human populations.

Monkeypox is zoonotic and already has several animal reservoirs, though these are currently limited to Africa. But if monkeypox escapes into wild animal populations in the U.S., Europe or other locations, there will be always be potential for animals to spread it back to humans. With this in mind, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the risks with regard to animals.

As with any infectious disease, be informed about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and how it is transmitted. If you suspect you have the virus, contact a doctor and isolate from other people.

As a veterinarian, I strongly encourage anyone with monkeypox to protect your pets. The case in Paris shows that dogs can get infected from contact with their owners, and it is likely that many other species, including cats, are susceptible, too. If you have monkeypox, try to have other people take care of your animals for as long as lesions are present. And if you think your pet has a monkeypox infection, be sure to contact a veterinarian so they can test the lesion and provide care when needed.

Even though monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, it is unlikely to directly affect most people. Taking precautionary steps can protect you and your pets and will hopefully prevent monkeypox from getting into wildlife in the U.S., too.

Amy Macneill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ across major COVID-19 variants

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the…



Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

Credit: Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, UBC

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

The weakness can be targeted by neutralizing antibodies, potentially paving the way for treatments that would be universally effective across variants.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications, use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal the atomic-level structure of the vulnerable spot on the virus’ spike protein, known as an epitope. The paper further describes an antibody fragment called VH Ab6 that is able to attach to this site and neutralize each major variant. 

“This is a highly adaptable virus that has evolved to evade most existing antibody treatments, as well as much of the immunity conferred by vaccines and natural infection,” says Dr. Sriram Subramaniam (he/him), a professor at UBC’s faculty of medicine and the study’s senior author. “This study reveals a weak spot that is largely unchanged across variants and can be neutralized by an antibody fragment. It sets the stage for the design of pan-variant treatments that could potentially help a lot of vulnerable people.”

Identifying COVID-19 master keys

Antibodies are naturally produced by our bodies to fight infection, but can also be made in a laboratory and administered to patients as a treatment. While several antibody treatments have been developed for COVID-19, their effectiveness has waned in the face of highly-mutated variants like Omicron.

“Antibodies attach to a virus in a very specific manner, like a key going into a lock. But when the virus mutates, the key no longer fits,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “We’ve been looking for master keys — antibodies that continue to neutralize the virus even after extensive mutations.”

The ‘master key’ identified in this new paper is the antibody fragment VH Ab6, which was shown to be effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, Epsilon and Omicron variants. The fragment neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by attaching to the epitope on the spike protein and blocking the virus from entering human cells.

The discovery is the latest from a longstanding and productive collaboration between Dr. Subramaniam’s team at UBC and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, led by Drs. Mitko Dimitrov and Wei Li. The team in Pittsburgh has been screening large antibody libraries and testing their effectiveness against COVID-19, while the UBC team has been using cryo-EM to study the molecular structure and characteristics of the spike protein.

Focusing in on COVID-19’s weak points

The UBC team is world-renowned for its expertise in using cryo-EM to visualize protein-protein and protein-antibody interactions at an atomic resolution. In another paper published earlier this year in Science, they were the first to report the structure of the contact zone between the Omicron spike protein and the human cell receptor ACE2, providing a molecular explanation for Omicron’s enhanced viral fitness.

By mapping the molecular structure of each spike protein, the team has been searching for areas of vulnerability that could inform new treatments.

“The epitope we describe in this paper is mostly removed from the hot spots for mutations, which is why it’s capabilities are preserved across variants,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Now that we’ve described the structure of this site in detail, it unlocks a whole new realm of treatment possibilities.”

Dr. Subramaniam says this key vulnerability can now be exploited by drug makers, and because the site is relatively mutation-free, the resulting treatments could be effective against existing—and even future—variants.

“We now have a very clear picture of this vulnerable spot on the virus. We know every interaction the spike protein makes with the antibody at this site. We can work backwards from this, using intelligent design, to develop a slew of antibody treatments,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Having broadly effective, variant-resistant treatments would be a game changer in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As “Enemies Of The State”

German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German…



German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German official has trashed people who may be planning to protest against energy blackouts as “enemies of the state” and “extremists” who want to overthrow the government.

The interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Herbert Reul (CDU), says that anti-mandatory vaxx and anti-lockdown demonstrators have found a new cause – the energy crisis.

In an interview with German news outlet NT, Reul revealed that German security services were keeping an eye on “extremists” who plan to infiltrate the protests and stage violence, with the unrest being planned via the Telegram messenger app, which German authorities have previously tried to ban.

“You can already tell from those who are out there,” said Reul. “The protesters no longer talk about coronavirus or vaccination. But they are now misusing people’s worries and fears in other fields. (…) It’s almost something like new enemies of the state that are establishing themselves.”

Despite the very real threat of potential blackouts, power grid failures and gas shortages, Reul claimed such issues were feeding “conspiracy theory narratives.”

However, it’s no “conspiracy theory” that Germans across the country have been panic buying stoves, firewood and electric heaters as the government tells them thermostats will be limited to 19C in public buildings and that sports arenas and exhibition halls will be used as ‘warm up spaces’ this winter to help freezing citizens who are unable to afford skyrocketing energy bills.

As Remix News reports, blaming right-wing conspiracy theorists for a crisis caused by Germany’s sanctions on Russia and is suicidal dependence on green energy is pretty rich.

“Reul, like the country’s federal interior minister, Nancy Faeser, is attempting to tie right-wing ideology and protests against Covid-19 policies to any potential protests in the winter.”

“While some on the right, such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have stressed that the government’s sanctions against Russia are the primary factor driving the current energy crisis, they have not advocated an “overthrow” of the government. Instead, they have stressed the need to restart the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, end energy sanctions against Russia, and push for a peaceful solution to end the war.”

Indeed, energy shortages and the cost of living crisis are issues that are of major concern to everyone, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

To claim that people worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table this winter are all “enemies of the state” is an utter outrage.

As we highlighted last week, the president of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan Kramer, said energy crisis riots would make anti-lockdown unrest look like a “children’s birthday party.”

“Mass protests and riots are just as conceivable as concrete acts of violence against things and people, as well as classic terrorism to overthrow it,” Kramer told ZDF.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 08/18/2022 - 03:30

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