Friday, April 18, 2014

Notes from the broader economy

From this morning's news trawl, an interesting comment on wage increases in the broader economy. From the Wall Street Journal: 
Are American workers finally starting to see some decent wage increases? A report Thursday offers hope, showing incomes picked up at a healthy pace in the first three months of the year. 
The weekly earnings of the typical full-time worker rose 3% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2008, the Labor Department said. That translated into median earnings—the point at which half of all workers made more and half made less—of $796. When you adjust for inflation, median earnings are now at their highest level since the second quarter of 2012. 
Even better is that the earnings growth far outpaced the 1.4% year-over-year rise in consumer prices, as measured by the Labor Department. Earnings that rise faster than costs mean workers will have more money to spend on discretionary purchases. Consumer spending is the biggest source of economic demand in the U.S. 
It’s way too early to tell whether the trend will continue, especially since the nearly five-year-old U.S. economic recovery has been so choppy. But Thursday’s report follows other signs pointing to a strengthening labor market.
Let's hope it continues. In other news, I thought this comment on startup funding was fascinating and emblematic of our times. From the AP:
Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into a growing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday. 
...Software companies received the most money — $4 billion. Biotech was a distant second with $1.06 billion. The last time the software sector received this much money was in the fourth quarter of 2000, right as the dot-com bubble was about to burst...
The dominance of the tech sector in the US economy is unquestioned -- it makes me wonder if/how much the biotech funding scene tracks the tech sector? 


  1. I think it really depends where you work. Its all about supply and demand. If there is a steady stream of cheap labor where you work (academic science, for one).that actually increases because millineals cant find jobs, you will never see much improvement salaries for grad students, post-docs, or staff scientists, like me. My situation is hopeless, despite the glowing reports.

  2. "it makes me wonder if/how much the biotech funding scene tracks the tech sector"

    Both the biotech and tech sectors track high risk-reward funding from VCs, IPOs, etc. The funding for high risk - high reward ventures (biotech, tech, overpriced stocks, home prices) track with the irrational exerburance of the general population. However the strength of the irrationality of populace is waning. Funding will follow public opnion. People are finally understanding that if unemployment is decling only due to the rapid growth of low paying, part time jobs that recovery is not happening. They are trying to protect their money as they see fit. However this is easier said than done since the principals of investing are out the window due to the irresponsibility of the federal reserve, IMF, and other central banks. Nothing is 'safe'. Just ask Germany about their gold reserves.............

  3. When you factor in the increases in price for food, gas, insurance, rent, etc., wages would need to increase by about 20 % for it be a break-even proposition. Inflation is eating away at our purchasing power more rapidly these days.