At one point in time, the economic recovery seemed the realization of hope incarnate. And while the cyclical nature of economics gives some of us optimism, the failure of our current situation to add a substantial number of jobs gives others great pause. In July, the economy added only 32,000 US non-farm jobs, a far cry from the 228,000 predicted by the market. (Better than the 8,000 added in December, but anemic nonetheless.) This follows a weak 112,000 new jobs in June.
Credit strategists have scurried to put out new analyses and market outlooks, while portfolio managers are reassessing the value, and potential upside, of their own assets. In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith points out that it is innate to human nature to further the progress of society, but without a recuperative employment outlook, many of the drivers of the economy will literally be sitting on their hands.
“Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the publick interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it... He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”
And while two months a trend does not make, unchecked optimism is notably more tempered.