ADP says a new methodology will bring their numbers closer to government figures. Their numbers historically have significantly underreported job losses. Let's hope they aren't underestimating this time because they report a shrieking oh-my-god job loss number of 693,000 in December, and that's before Alcoa's 13,500 cuts, IBM's reported 16,000 job cuts, and did I mention that US companies plan to triple job-reduction this year?
We don't know how bad January is going to get, but we've got some clues: Ohio, Michigan, New York State, and Kentucky's phone and internet unemployment claim systems have all crashed from the overload. That can't be good. And new factory orders are at their lowest levels since 1948.
Layoff Daily is a site amalgamating layoff reports, btw. If you're into that sort of thing. Oh, and Washington State is can't hire new people fast enough - in unemployment claims processing, anyway.
Chrysler, bailout recipient but private firm, will not report its financial statement to the public as it is not legally required to do so. That will not, however, stop it from converting its finance arm into a legal lending company, specifically to gain access to the TARP and additional tax dollars. In somewhat related news, S&P has downgraded City of Detroit bonds to "junk" status, triggering an immediate US$400B claim by bondholders. And here's more on the 49-year-low on sales for General Motors.
In retail, Circuit City reports that its sales dropped between 43% and 50% in November and December, since filling for bankruptcy protection with intent to reorganise. They're not the only ones in trouble; vacancies at US malls hit 10-year highs in 4Q 2008, up at 7.1%. Preliminary data on Boxing Day (well, Boxing Week) sales are down 0.8%. Don't look for relief on the credit front; US consumer credit quality is deteriorating badly, with more defaults and lower payments being made on debt.
Remember all that talk about the Baltic Dry Index? We have our first major US shipping collapse, with U.S. Shipping Partners LP in default. They ship petroleum products. Or, you know, used to.
Oh, in housing, foreclosure-sales tripled in the first 10 months of 2008. Interestingly, Seattle home prices actually rose 2% between November and December. It's probably a fluke and I don't have a link (it was reported on 710KIRO this morning), but there it is. Unsurprisingly but interestingly, the ABX index for AAA-rated MBSes has been climbing as the US government "swaps" them - at inflated values - for US treasuries, which is to say, taxpayer dollars. So I guess that's "working" as intended. (Please remember that AAA essentially has proven out to be "slightly less bad junk," and everything else has proven out to mean "radioactive junk, possibly with anthrax in.") Oh, and here's another article about how foreign bondholders drove the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout.
Arizona joins the list of states borrowing to make payroll, or at least, talking about it as an immediate necessity. In national government news, President-elect Obama stated, "Potentially we've got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery that we are working on." Let's hope there's no Treasuries bubble. Charles Evans at the Chicago Fed says the Federal Reserve needs to "mimic" below-zero interest rates, with continued buying of MBSes (see above). The Financial Times questions whether the US can afford anything like this scale of Keynesian stimulus. They don't think so. And people are finally getting a tad cranky and maybe wanting some heads on spikes. I'd like to see some perp walks, myself.
Taiwan has made an emergency rate cut as exports have collapsed to the mainland. China's mainland state media is issuing warnings about unrest, in the sense of warning people to sit the fuck down as the economy suffers. Naked Capitalism sees more signs of unrest, including capital flight.
Meanwhile, is Spain again the "sick man of Europe?"
I'm out of typing time. But: go ahead. Tell me there's not a Treasury bubble. G'wan. Tell me.
eta: agh, somebody stop me! But I have to add this commentary on the destabilisation of Mexico as a result of the economic crisis. Expect more of this.