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Economy

Daily Bread for 1.25.24: Now is Whitewater’s Time to Seize an Improving National and State Economy

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:17 and sunset 4:59 for 9h 43m 36s of daytime. The moon is full with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Lakes Advisory Committee meets at 5 PM and the Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 6 PM

On this day in 1945, the Battle of the Bulge ends in an Allied victory. 


When the national economy is poor, it’s unlikely that Whitewater (having for years lagged the national economy) would do well. When the Wisconsin economy is poor, it’s unlikely that Whitewater (having for years lagged the state economy) would do well. Even when the national economy was doing well years ago, Whitewater was behind

As it turns out, happily, the state and national economies are again doing well. Those favorable economic conditions are an opportunity for Whitewater — now’s the time to join in America’s and Wisconsin’s achievements. Of those national economic gains, there’s more good news from across a continent with 340 million people. Ben Casselman reports U.S. Economy Grew at 3.3% Rate in Latest Quarter (‘The increase in gross domestic product, while slower than in the previous period, showed the resilience of the recovery from the pandemic’s upheaval’):

The U.S. economy continued to grow at a healthy pace at the end of 2023, capping a year in which unemployment remained low, inflation cooled and a widely predicted recession never materialized.

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, grew at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was down from the 4.9 percent rate in the third quarter but easily topped forecasters’ expectations and showed the resilience of the recovery from the pandemic’s economic upheaval.

The latest reading is preliminary and may be revised in the months ahead.

Forecasters entered 2023 expecting the Federal Reserve’s aggressive campaign of interest-rate increases to push the economy into reverse. Instead, growth accelerated: For the full year, measured from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023, G.D.P. grew 3.1 percent, up from less than 1 percent the year before and faster than in any of the five years preceding the pandemic. (A different measure, based on average output over the full year, showed annual growth of 2.5 percent in 2023.)

Emphasis added. 

Now’s the time. 


Rare double brood of cicadas will emerge this spring:

Daily Bread for 1.22.24: Wisconsin’s Favorable Employment Statistics

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:17 and sunset 4:55 for 9h 37m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM and the Police & Fire Commission at 6 PM. The Whitewater School Board’s Policy Review Committee meets at 5:30 PM, and the full school board enters closed session shortly after 6:30 PM with open session scheduled at 7 PM.  

On this day in 1957, the New York City “Mad Bomber,” George P. Metesky, is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut and charged with planting more than 30 bombs.


Employment levels remain positive for Wisconsin. Erik Gunn reports Wisconsin unemployment remains low in December as jobs continue to grow:

Wisconsin’s monthly employment snapshots finished the year with a new record for the number of jobs and an upbeat assessment from the state’s labor department.

A survey of employers projected a total of nearly 3.03 million jobs in Wisconsin in December 2023, according to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

Based on a separate survey of households, DWD projected an unemployment rate of 3.3%, the same as in November 2023. The unemployment rate calculates how many people are not working in the total labor force, which consists of people who are working or actively seeking work.

The data show Wisconsin employers and workers are “just continuing the trends we saw all year,” said DWD’s chief economist, Dennis Winters, at a media briefing Thursday. “And the way things are shaping up for 2024, we expect the same thing.”

The employers survey counted a total of 3,026,500 nonfarm jobs in Wisconsin in December, a gain of 80,000 from a year ago.

There is, however, a requirement to capitalize on the state’s improving outlook: it takes high-quality leaders and ideas to make the most of good times. 

Whitewater has been in this situation before, in 2020 before the pandemic, when local men looked around at a positive national and state economy and bemoaned better times had not reached Whitewater.

See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom:

“We’ve just had one of the most booming economies that this country’s seen in close to 60 years. And we’re not at the table. We’re not playing. We’re not out there.”

Well, yes. There was a national boom, uplifting many cities, but it passed by Whitewater. What did Whitewater get after the Great Recession, years into a national boom? Whitewater received a designation as a low-income community.  (The gentlemen speaking, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ development men, were by their own accounts at the center of local CDA policy during most of the years that the state and national boom ignored Whitewater.)

Leaders then were responsible for having positioned the city poorly. Once again: it takes high-quality leaders and ideas to make the most of good times. 


Fire breaks out at Russian gas terminal in Baltic Sea port:

Daily Bread for 1.12.24: Federal Reserve Officials at Wisconsin Forum Discuss Inflation Fight

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be snowy, with significant snowfall, and a high of 31. Sunrise is 7:23 and sunset 4:43 for 9h 19m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1991, an act of Congress authorizes the use of American military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.


Joe Schulz reports Inflation is coming down, but there’s a long way to go, Fed tells Wisconsin banking officials (‘Efforts to combat inflation haven’t caused a spike in unemployment’):

Ron Feldman, first vice president and chief operating officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the declining rate is encouraging, but it’s still short of the central bank’s goal of bringing inflation down to 2 percent.

“A lot of progress (has been) made on inflation, not at the point at which we are comfortable because we are not at our target,” he said. “We’re likely maybe near a peak (in terms of interest rates), but we’re not at the point at which we can sort of say, ‘We know exactly what we’re going to do.'”

Feldman said projections from the Fed show inflation is expected to continue to come down slowly through 2024, and it’s expected to return to the goal of 2 percent in 2026. During that time, he said unemployment is expected to hover around 4.1 percent.

Feldman also said the Fed may begin lowering interest rates as inflation gets closer to the 2 percent target, but said it’s still too early to know when that will happen.

“If things continue the way they’re going, there’s gonna be some decreases,” he said. “But when those happen, how those happen, and if they happen at all are going to be dependent on the data that comes in.”


Porcupine crossing: Rodent stops ski slope traffic:

Daily Bread for 1.5.24: National Job Growth Remains Strong

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:35 for 9h 10m 13s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority will hold a Visioning & Planning Workshop at 11:30 AM

On this day in 1781, Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by former American general, and traitor to our people, Benedict Arnold.


Talmon Joseph Smith reports U.S. Job Growth Remains Strong (‘The labor market showed continued resiliency in December, with employers adding 216,000 jobs last month, a sign that economic growth remains vigorous’):

The labor market ended the year with a bang.

Employers added 216,000 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported on Friday, surpassing the expectations of economists.It was the 36th consecutive month of gains.

Altogether, the U.S. economy added roughly 2.7 million jobs over the past year. That’s a smaller gain than in 2021 or 2022, during the economy’s initial resurgence from the pandemic lockdowns. Yet the gains of 2023 are still stronger than those in the late 2010s.

The numbers are buoying expectations of what has been called a soft landing — in which the economy is able to avoid significant job loss while shifting into a calmer, more sustainable gear, after the years of disorienting volatility that began with the arrival of Covid-19 roughly four years ago.

Many experts caution that data for December is notoriously hard to calculate in any year because of the hiring churn caused by the holiday season.

The unemployment rate, based on a survey of households, was unchanged at 3.7 percent.

Average hourly earnings for workers — a common measure of wage gains — rose 0.4 percent from the previous month and were up 4.1 percent from December 2022.

Layoffs remain near record lows, beneath prepandemic levels.

A mixture of economic data in the past couple of months that appears neither too hot nor too cold has given a lift to both investors and policymakers at the Federal Reserve, who have been pleasantly surprised at the continuing balance between falling inflation and sustainable growth.


Freakishly Smart Falcons Run These [Falkland] Islands (‘The success of wild striated caracaras in a test suggests that the intellects of more bird species may be underestimated’): 

Daily Bread for 1.4.24: Wisconsin’s Snowfall and Whitewater’s Student Housing

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 32. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:34 for 9h 09m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 46.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 2004, Spirit, a NASA Mars rover, lands successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.


Snowfall was down in December for northern Wisconsin, as Danielle Kaeding reports in Lack of snow threatens to upend business, winter activities in northern Wisconsin (‘Warm weather led to drastically reduced snowfall for the month of December’):

In northern Wisconsin, where outdoor enthusiasts live for snow and ice, warmer than usual weather has skiers and snowmobilers turning to wheels, and race organizers breaking out snowmaking machines.

In December, weather stations in Brule, Ashland and Hayward recorded temperatures more than 12 degrees Fahrenheit above the 30-year average, according to the National Weather Service.

Kevin Huyck, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said those areas saw around 11 to 16 inches less snow than average for the month.

“(It’s) definitely been drier than what we’ve seen in the past as far as snowfall for this past month of December,” Huyck said

Understandably, the lack of snow threatens businesses that depend on snow sports. Some enterprises may be able to produce artificial snow, but that creation may not be enough in volume or satisfaction for winter sports enthusiasts. 

For it all, however, Wisconsin’s economy does and should rely on many activities rather than fewer. Seeing Wisconsin only through winter sports would be both erroneous and short-sighted.

One can say the same about Whitewater’s student housing market. It’s been profitable for some (a few landlords) who have benefited privately in a relationship with a publicly-funded university. (These gentlemen talk about private business but their income has depended on a healthy public institution. Not one of these men built their enterprises on purely private relationships.)

The city’s economy, however, is and healthfully must be more than a student-housing market (supportive of higher education though I am). Indeed, normal, thriving economies in America simply aren’t built on rental properties. A hundred other industries would take precedence. 

Worth considering the next time some of these gentlemen expect preferential consideration…


Denmark’s Queen Steps Down:

Daily Bread for 12.26.23: More Wisconsin Jobs, Unemployment Remains Low

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 51. Sunrise is 7:24 and sunset 4:27 for 9h 02m 44s of daytime. The moon is full with 99.8% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1776, at the Battle of Trenton the Continental Army attacks and successfully defeats a garrison of Hessian forces.


  Robert D’Andrea reports Wisconsin adds more jobs, unemployment remains low (‘State reaches all-time high in total non-farm jobs’):

Wisconsin’s labor force continues to grow, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The total number of non-farm related jobs across Wisconsin hit a record high of more than 3 million during the month of November. 

That’s more than 32,000 additional jobs compared to the same time last year, and an increase of 1,700 compared to October, according to an analysis of the preliminary data from the state’s Department of Workforce Development. 

“If you’re a job seeker, this is a fantastic time. If you’re trying to hire, it’s a little tougher,” DWD economist Scott Hodek said Thursday. “That’s why DWD and the state are doing so many things to try and get everybody into the labor force and skilled-up as much as possible.”

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent last month, up a tenth of a percent from October.

That’s lower than the national average of 3.7 percent. And it remains far below the average of the last three decades.


Large explosion in Crimea as Ukrainian airstrike hits Russian warship:

Daily Bread for 11.30.23: The End (for Now) of Interest Rate Increases?

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 44. Sunrise is 7:05 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 16m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 89.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1938, in London, the Crystal Palace is destroyed by fire.

By Philip Henry Delamotte (1821–1889) – Smithsonian Libraries, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2183219


Jeanna Smialek and  report Fed Officials Hint That Rate Increases Are Over, and Investors Celebrate (Stocks and bonds were buoyed after even inflation-focused Federal Reserve officials suggested that rates may stay steady):

Taken together with other recent remarks from Fed officials, the latest comments offer an increasingly clear signal that central bank policymakers may be finished with their campaign to increase interest rates in a bid to slow demand and cool inflation. Interest rates are already set to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent. The Fed’s next meeting will take place on Dec. 12-13, and investors are overwhelmingly betting that the central bank will hold rates steady, as policymakers did at their last two meetings.

….

Fed officials have been nervously watching continued strength in the economy: Gross domestic product expanded at a breakneck 4.9 percent annual rate [later revised to 5.2] in the third quarter. The concern has been that continued solid demand will give companies the wherewithal to continue raising prices quickly. 

But recently, job growth has eased and consumer price inflationhas shown meaningful signs of a broad-based slowdown. That is giving policymakers more confidence that their current policy setting is aggressive enough to wrestle price increases fully under control.

Positive national economic news is an early Christmas present from Americans to America. 


Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Elk:

Daily Bread for 11.28.23: Opportunity If We’ll Take It

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 23. Sunrise is 7:03 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 19m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1895, the first American automobile race takes place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea wins in approximately 10 hours.


  A 11.21.23 essay from Brookings by author Homi Kharas describes what fuels middle-class optimism. (Kharas has a new book, The Rise of the Global Middle Class, that I have not yet read. For today, this post confines itself to Kharas’s 11.21 essay.) 

Kharas notes the rise of a global middle class:

Joining the middle class has been a ticket to the good life for two centuries now, a history I trace in a new book “The Rise of the Global Middle Class.” The American Dream, the glorious years of European reconstruction after World War II, miracle economic growth in Japan and other East Asian countries, Xi Jinping’s great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and India’s software revolution each brought hundreds of millions of people into the ranks of the global middle class. Today, thanks to this progress, most of the world, upwards of 4 billion people, enjoy a middle-class or better lifestyle for the first time ever.

Yes. (I’ll note that the period of China’s greatest economic success came only after liberalizing her economy toward freer markets, and that period of liberalization is regrettably over.)

Here’s how Kharas describes middle-class optimism:

Middle-class life satisfaction rests on two pillars. The first is the idea that hard work and self-initiative will lead to prosperity. The second is that thanks to this prosperity, the children of middle-class families will enjoy even more opportunities for the good life.

There’s a local aspect to this. To be successful, a community needs to have middle-class success. 

In Whitewater, CDA types in the decade from 2010-2020 failed to capitalize on state and national economic gains. See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom. (“While Wisconsin and America advanced, these gentlemen were left admitting reluctantly their own poor performance. (There was a national boom, uplifting many cities, but it passed by Whitewater. What did Whitewater get after the Great Recession, years into a national boom? Whitewater received a designation as a low-income community.  The gentlemen speaking, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ development men, were by their own accounts at the center of local CDA policy during most of the years that the state and national boom ignored Whitewater.) See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA (“This new EOZ program allows for private investments to be made, with significant tax benefits, in lower income communities like ours that need a boost to their economy,” said Larry Kachel, Chair of the Whitewater Community Development Authority (CDA).” Emphasis added.)

We have a chance for better. See A Development Director for Whitewater (“Whitewater’s development policy is meant to be a community development policy, not one captured against the public interest by a few. Who owns Whitewater? The proper answer — the answer suitable for a beautiful, well-ordered American town — is everyone and no one.”)


Rescued baby turtles scurry into the sea:

Daily Bread for 11.14.23: National Inflation Cools

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 57. Sunrise is 6:46 and sunset 4:32 for 9h 46m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, is published in the USA.


  Jeanna Smialek reports Consumer prices slowed in October:

Inflation eased in October and price increases showed encouraging signs of slowing under the surface, according to fresh data released on Tuesday. The report provides the Federal Reserve with evidence that its battle against rapid inflation is working.

The overall Consumer Price Index slowed to 3.2 percent last month on a year-over-year basis, lower than the 3.7 percent reading in September and the coolest since July. That deceleration owed partly to more moderate energy prices.

Even with volatile fuel and food prices stripped out, a closely watched “core” price measure climbed 4 percent in the year through October, slower than the previous reading and weaker than what economists had expected.

Inflation has come down meaningfully over the past year after peaking in the summer of 2022, and the fresh report showed evidence of continued progress. Fed officials are trying to wrestle price increases back to roughly the 2 percent pace that was normal before the pandemic by raising interest rates, which they hope will slow consumer and business demand.

These are national figures; local prices changes will vary from the national average.

A question, however, presents itself in every community, big or small: in which local officials will residents place their trust to seize the opportunities of improved conditions? Will Whitewater and other cities turn yet again to those who have produced press releases instead of genuine progress in residents’ individual and household incomes?

Will residents in these communities take the measure of the difference between past positioning and current professional performance? 


Massive cracks and fissures in a road following hundreds of small earthquakes in Iceland:

Daily Bread for 11.3.23: National Hiring Slows but Remains Solid

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 52. Sunrise is 7:32 and sunset 5:44 for 10h 12m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 66.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 2014, One World Trade Center officially opens in New York City, replacing the Twin Towers after they were destroyed during the September 11 attacks.

By King of Hearts – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61981409


Lauren Kaori Gurley and Abha Bhattarai report U.S. economy adds 150,000 jobs in October, slower but solid growth (‘The unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent. Tempered job growth reflected the UAW strikes against the Big Three auto companies’):

This year, the labor market has been undergoing a notable cool-down, across many sectors, from its red hot peak after the pandemic when employers rapidly created millions of jobs to keep up with pent-up consumer demand.

October’s job gains mark the second lowest increase since 2020, and jobs figures for August and September were revised down by 101,000. Wage growth moderated slightly in October, rising by 4.1 percent over the previous 12 months to $34.00 an hour.

“This is still one of the best labor markets for workers that we’ve seen relative to the last 30 years,” said Justin Bloesch, a professor of economics at Cornell University. “But it is definitely less hot than it was last year.”


Teen solves Rubik’s Cube while skydiving, nabs Guinness World Record

Daily Bread for 10.12.23: National Inflation Rate Holds Steady (and Local Implications)

 Good morning. Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with intermittent showers and a high of 56. Sunrise is 7:05 and sunset 6:16 PM for 11h 11m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 4.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 6 PM.    On this day in 1614,…