By Theodore H. Hall
November seems an ominous month. We’ve got the final presidential debate coming up and then the countdown to Thanksgiving begins. The holidays are fast approaching but so is the Christmas shopping season. Can you imagine all those gifts, or maybe some parcels to Santa just for Christmas. Thanks to the perfect storm of all kinds of Internet and social networking tools, it seems like Santa Claus has been able to receive a lot of gifts.
And like any good government data nerd I think that is a great thing. We do a lot of good in this country, but sometimes we can use a little help. The logic of the economic data is that each time someone shops, they produce an output of dollars. With the federal government shutdown this is no longer available in real time. This is not to say that the recent economic data aren’t useful. We all know that the economy is creating jobs and there is some evidence to indicate that the unemployment rate and price level are headed in the right direction. Both trends have been great. That is why the government shutdown did not affect the data much. If the data was delayed the U.S. Department of Labor would have still been able to gather it, we just have to wait a little longer for the final reports to come out.
But, it is more than that. If the government shutdown affects every one of the semi-autonomous and obscure offices which make up the Federal government, then every American’s economic condition could be impacted. We can ignore it for a while but there is a hint of a small storm brewing. And that is just how data nerds like me like it. We don’t want surprises.
The U.S. economy has improved and the stock market was just on the other side of the worst sell off in years. Even market watchers thought the worst was over. Uncertainty has been a problem for the political class. With the economy close to steady it is time to close the loop. Let us not lose our momentum of moving forward. Instead let us hope that cooler heads will prevail. And if we don’t have any impact, let us just thank some nosy curmudgeons from Congress for the $16.7 billion.
Theodore H. Hall is President of HAP — Data & Analytics Solutions LLC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and graduated with honors from the University of Maryland. He lives in Silver Spring with his wife, Benita. He has been writing on the stock market for over 20 years. He can be reached at [email protected]