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    • Almost Six Million Unfilled Jobs In America - Question Is Why?

      On Wednesday of last week, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were a record 5.9 million unfilled job openings in America as of the end of July. Unless you are a news junkie like myself, this number may well come as a surprise to you. And the reasons why we have such a huge number of unfilled jobs may also come as a surprise.

      With our official unemployment rate at 4.9%, we know that the labor markets have improved significantly in recent years. It’s great that US businesses are hiring, but these record numbers of job openings are also a sign that business owners can’t find the skilled workers qualified to fill the jobs they have available. We’ll find out why as we go along today.

      Before we get to that discussion, let’s briefly review two decidedly disappointing reports for August -- the ISM Manufacturing Index and the ISM Services Index. We’ll also look at another key report which significantly surprised on the upside. Let’s get started.

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    • Clinton & Trump Unveil Very Different Economic Plans

      Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York billionaire Donald Trump both announced their major plans for the economy last week, if elected president in November. As you might expect, the two plans are very different. I will summarize both as we go along today, and you can draw your own conclusions.

      Before we get to that discussion, I want to bring to your attention the fact that the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a significant improvement in the US economy for the current 3Q. As you may recall, the Atlanta Fed produces a real-time estimate of the US economy which is called “GDPNow.” As of last Friday, the GDPNow is forecasting a jump to 3.5% in GDP in the 3Q.

      Keep in mind that US GDP was only 0.8% in the 1Q and 1.2% in the 2Q. A strong jump to 3.5% in the 3Q would be almost triple the anemic 1.2% in the 2Q. The obvious question is, what is the Fed seeing so far in this July to September quarter that is making it so confident? That’s what we’ll talk about just below.

    • The Worst Economic Recovery in a Lifetime

      I hope everyone reading this had a memorable Independence Day holiday. We certainly did with lots of family and friends at our home on Lake Travis, and with lots of cooking on my part (but unfortunately, no fireworks this year due to the severe drought in Central Texas). July 4th is one of my favorite national holidays.

      Due to the short week, I have elected to reprint a surprising new study that has just been released by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC). The JEC is a bipartisan committee including 10 Senators and 10 House Representatives, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The JEC’s main purpose is to make a continuing study of matters relating to the US economy.

      The latest study from the JEC, which was developed at the request of two Republican members of the Committee, compares the current economic recovery with previous recessions and recoveries. The conclusion: economic conditions are worse today than in any recovery since at least World War II.

      Because the study was commissioned by two Republicans, the analysis includes some partisan statements, unfortunately. However, the data and charts in this study are accurate, and this is the worst economic recovery in at least 70 years. I have written often this year about this disappointing economic recovery, and this relatively brief analysis sums it up very well. It is reprinted in its entirety below, including over a dozen charts and graphs, so it will print longer than usual.

    • On the Economy and Investment Dos and Don’ts

      There's an old riddle about how far you can walk into the woods. The answer is "half-way," since after that point you're walking out of the woods. Recent economic reports remind me of this riddle in that they seem to be indicating that we're walking out of the woods but there are still a lot of trees in our way. In this week's E-Letter, I'll discuss the positive signs that the economy may just be coming back to life. However, I'll also mention some of the not-so-good economic news that lets us know that we're definitely still in the woods, and may be there for some time.

      After that, I'm going to respond to some "instant advice" that I recently found in a financial publication. I always cringe when I see articles in financial magazines and on websites counseling readers to do this or that with their investments without knowing all of the underlying facts and circumstances that are unique to each person. I think you'll find it to be interesting reading, especially if you find yourself in one of the situations described.

    • Why the Economic Recovery is So Slow


      1.  Latest Economic Forecasts Don’t Look Great

      2.  The Economic Recovery Has a Long Way to Go

      3.  Consumer Spending Faces Strong Headwinds

      4.  Americans Living in Poverty Hits New High

      5.  Lastly, My Thoughts on Inflation & Gold