Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mittal's drive for world domination continues

Mittal has convinced Arcelor to yield. Resistance is futile. Details here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Toll Road Stuff

The Indiana Supreme Court rules:

"The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of a lower court in St. Joseph County that opponents to the Indiana Toll Road lease must post a $1.9 billion bond to continue their lawsuit and the justices have also discussed the merits of the case.

"The state's high court says the opponents have not raised any substantial issues in their contentions that the law authorizing the lease violates the Indiana Supreme Court. "

Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

More on the Toll Road

There's an extended discussion of issues surrounding the lease of the Indiana Toll Road over at Angry Bear (and scroll down a bit); I've commented there.

One thing I'd note here is that the lessors of the Toll Road have the right to raise tolls by 2% per year beginning in (as I recall) 2010. Those are nominal increases. Anybody think the rate of inflation's going to remain below 2% for the long haul?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Not my field of expertise, but...

Well, I see that a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman (I presume that's "at a time;" having managed to get married three times myself...) is about to come up for a vote in Congress.

What I was wondering is this. I know that the amendment presumes to speak only about laws enacted by states or by the federal government. But suppose there's a church (possibly the Unitarians?) that defines marriage as a loving relationship between two adults who are committed to a lige-long relationship. Would the proposed marriage amendment then contradict--or at the very least come into conflict with--the First Amendment? And, if it did, which would win out in a court challenge?

Just asking.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Employment News

Establishment Employment rose by about 75,000 in May (compared with April), a result that disappointed many commentators. And, I agree that it's slow growth in employment. If one looks, however, at the 12-month growth rates in employment, May 2006 is 1.4% above May 2005. This way of looking at employment growth--comparing the most recent month's data to the same month one year earlier--suggests a remarkable sameness to the moonth-over-year-ago growth in employment. Since the moddle of 2004, employment growth over a year before has never been less than 1.3%--and never more than 1.7%. This is remarkably stable employment growth over a two year time period.

It is, also, remarkable for a recovery not to have generated more rapid employment growth. Since 1960, we've had six sustained business cycle recovery periods. In the first four (early 1960s, early 1970s, mid-1970s, and mid-1980s), employment growth peaked at between 4.5% and 5.5% (measured over 12-month periods). In the mid-1990s recovery, employment growth peaked at about 3.5%. This time, it's peaked at about 1.5%.

To be sure, the decline in employment was also smaller in this recession, bottoming out at about 1.5%--not much larger than the early 1990s declines (about 1.4%) and cosiderably smaller than in earlier recessions (2.5%). But I don't think one can say that employment growth in this recovery has been robust. The declines in unemployment rates stem largely from a declining labor force participation rate, and rising employment has yet to put upward pressure on wages--this is the first recovery in the last 50 years in which real wages have not increased.

Again, the stability of employment growth (over moving 12-month periods) has been remarkable for the last two years. The only comparable period is from mid-1993 to late 1995, when 12-month growth in employment was consistently between 2% and 3%. So the last two years has been remarkably stable, but not remarkably good in terms of employment growth.