Neurotic Thursday: Ebola Versus Jobs

It’s like one of those (old) (bad) jokes that begins:  “So the Doctor says I have good news for you, and I have bad news for you…

And that’s what this morning feels like.

On the bad news side, there’s the matter of Ebola,; the confirmed case in Dallas, more suspicious people to attend to, and CDC and local health departments are doing their dead-level best. 

So how’s this bad?  Well, once people begin to lie in order to escape from Africa, we have some numbers run that suggest that over the next several years, the worldwide death count could exceed half a billion. That is covered in this morning’s “Coping” section along with some economic contexting over here.

Worse:  The main Ebola headline this morning is that the number of “contacts” of the Liberian who brought the disease here is now up to 80!

So what’s the “good” news?”

Ah!  Tomorrow the Jobs report will be out in the morning and it’s not a wild stretch to imagine that the unemployment rate will drop another 10th of a point,. or maybe two!.

Why is Mr. Permabear so bullishly expectant?  Here’s the Challenger Job Cut report just out this morning and it’s a hum-dinger:

imageCHICAGO, October 2, 2014 – Monthly job cuts fell to their lowest level in 14 years in September, as U.S.-based employers announced workforce reductions totaling 30,477 during the month. As the fourth quarter begins, 2014 is on pace to be the lowest job-cut year since 1997.

The September total plunged 24 percent from the 40,010 job cuts announced in August, according to the report Thursday from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

It was also 24 percent lower than the September total from a year ago, when
employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 40,289.

Last month saw the fewest job cuts since June, 2000, when just 17,241 announced layoffs were recorded. The decline brings the 2014 monthly average down to 40,379. If this pace holds, the year could end with fewer than 500,000 job cuts for the first time since 1997 (434,350).

So how is this the basis for neurosis?

Consider what an improvement in the jobs number tomorrow would mean:  It means people will presumably have more money to spend – and that should drive corporate earnings growth.  OK, fine, that’d be nice for a change.

BUT, if you watch the “feral reserve” you also ought to know by now that if there’s too much of an increase in hiring and too much juice getting into the economy, they will begin to raise interest rates….and you know when that happens, there could be a bloodbath in the bond market, particularly because bonds are now hovering just above 52-week lows.

And when bonds begin to move, that could be like gas on the fire for stocks, that could zoom through the roof in a manic ending reminiscent of 1928-1929 when the market was in a parabolic blow off…

BUJT, all this now has to be tempered with the idea that Ebola is out and about inside the USA and while the various health officials do their thing, we still worry about a Typhoid Mary case…where someone could be asymptomatic and yet still be contagious.

Bit of history on her (Mary Mallon entry, Wikipedia):

Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), better known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 53 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook.[1] She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation.

I saw somewhere (can’t remember just where) that they may be a few asymptomatic carriers of Ebola out…and IF there are, then we could have a real Hot Zone mess.

Now you can see how it’s a Neurotic Thursday:  We’ve got bad news on Ebola (it’s in the US now and not as a welcome visitor) and we have good news on jobs that could be bad news in the markets because it could push rates up sooner than later.

And all the while, there’s Deflation swirling and slithering about:  Oil on the commodity markets dropped under the $90 per (42 gal) barrel this morning.  Yuck.

India Cleans Up Its Act

India is getting serious about ending my stereotype of “second world shit-hole.”  Literally.

They’re now making it a goal of a national clean-up program to have toilets for all….by 2019.

Google Suit

Is coming ($100-million worth) by female celebs who had their pix spread (so to speak) far and wide on the net.

I don’t suppose it has occurred to anyone besides me that they wouldn’t have the lawsuit if the pix didn’t exist in the first place?  If they do, of course they’ll get out. 

Anyone who doesn’t figure this stuff out (ubiquity of information including digital pix) can’t have much more than a room temp IQ, know what I’m saying?

China’s HK Mess

Not that it is unexpected, but China has lined up behind the leader of Honk Kong as the daily democracy demonstrations have become something of a club.  And clubs is what the response is…

(This is economic news how?)  Well, the Hang Seng Index dropped a further 1.28% last night

With Secret Service in Shambles……I thought it’d be our patriotic duty to offer a link to The New Yorker’s fine cartoons en-point..

Human Nature Note

The Atlantic, speaking of high-brow reading, offers the startling discovery that people enjoy stories more if they already know the ending.  Which sure runs counter to my tastes, but here you go…no, there you go…. 

Hey…where the heck did you go?