Apparently I was a lazy girl my whole life, and didn’t even know it.

The Wall Street Journal provided a fairly succinct summary of a lazy girl job in July: “one that can be done from home, comes with a chill boss, ends at 5 p.m. sharp and earns between $60,000 and $80,000 a year — enough to afford the basic comforts of young-adult life, yet not enough to feel compelled to work overtime.”

Source: The New York Times

Speaking as someone who has advocated for a return to local solar time (now that everyone has a supercomputer with GPS in their pocket to handle the necessary conversions), I was intrigued to read this article about just how bad things were before we started using timezones.

It’s peripheral to the main article, but I was kind of intrigued by this bit:

When he arrived in Ann Arbor in 1852, Tappan gave a speech outlining his vision for a new type of university. Drawing on the German model of education, he sought to transform the University of Michigan into an institution where knowledge was not just taught, but created.

Inflation and a declining standard of living are two different things. Inflation is when the money becomes less valuable, resulting in rising prices. But when a whole society becomes poorer, it can look like inflation, because prices may rise, but it’s not the same thing.

“Despite the Bank of England’s efforts so far, there is accumulating evidence that inflation will be harder to stamp out than previously expected. In the past week, data has shown that pay in Britain has increased faster than expected, inflation in the services sector has accelerated and food inflation is still near the highest level in more than 45 years.”

To my eye, viewed from over here, that looks less like inflation and more like a falling standard of living—largely caused by Brexit. If you block immigration, of course wages are going to go up. If transporting stuff across the border takes longer and is more expensive and difficult, of course food is going to be more expensive. That’s not inflation. That’s reducing everyone’s standard of living by raising actual costs.

It looks similar, because the symptom tends to be rising prices, but they’re two different things. If the problem is inflation, then raising interest rates (by reducing the rate of growth in the money supply) will probably help. But if the problem is a declining standard of living, then it’s probably not going to help. Higher interest rates will just be yet another expense (like border controls) that flow through to making everything cost more.

All through the 1990s I was waiting for the labor market to punish employers for their (then new) strategy of laying people off as soon as there was 15 minutes with no work to do, intending to hire them back (or hire somebody else) as soon as they had work again.

Capital markets forced employers to go that route. Any company that tried to resist—keeping on employees beyond the bare minimum—would see its stock price fall so much that it would be taken over in a leveraged buyout, and then the new owner would cut staff to the bone.

As I wrote for Wise Bread back in the day (in What’s an employee to do), it made me sad to watch. Surely, I thought, eventually the labor market would tighten up, and employers who had kept their employees on through a rough patch would have an advantage over employers who had to go out and recruit, hire, and train new employees.

But it never happened. Until, according to a recent article in the New York Times, now: Companies hording workers could be good news for the economy.

It’s a pretty good article.

Employers traumatized by not being able to hire enough people may not be quite so quick to lay them off:

“When the job market slows, employers will have recent, firsthand memories of how expensive it can be to recruit, and train, workers. Many employers may enter the slowdown still severely understaffed, particularly in industries like leisure and hospitality that have struggled to hire and retain workers since the start of the pandemic. Those factors may make them less likely to institute layoffs.”

Jeanna Smialek and Sydney Ember

And, if employers do keep workers on as the economy slows, it will help the U.S. economy. As Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair Lael Brainard says:

“Slowing aggregate demand will lead to a smaller increase in unemployment than we have seen in previous recessions.”

Perhaps even more important than those things, it will make me happy.

After three decades in which the market was reinforcing exactly the wrong behavior, now maybe it will encourage the right behavior.

Assets are called “safe” when they’re free of default risk. But that doesn’t mean their prices can’t drop, or that the financial system is safe if systemically important institutions buy them on margin.

What appears to be a liquidity issue will ultimately become a financial stability issue as investors discover their “safe assets” are not safe.

Source: Solvency Constraints – Fed Guy

Every time I go to read an article at @TheNewEuropean, instead of showing me the article, they accuse me of running an ad blocker. This is false, and a little insulting. And it’s a bit annoying that I can’t read their articles. But, oh well. I’ll make do as best I can without reading the latest from @paulmasonnews.