Thursday, February 03, 2005
You Lost Your Money -- You Keep This Up, You'll Lose Something Else
U.S. business productivity rose at just a 0.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, an unexpectedly slim advance that was the smallest in nearly four years, according to a government report on Thursday that could fan inflation fears.
The slowdown in productivity caused unit labor costs, a key gauge of inflation or profit pressures, to jump. They rose at a 2.3 percent rate, the biggest increase since a matching gain in the second quarter of 2002 and a step-up from the third quarter's downwardly revised 1.6 percent pace.
Economists had expected productivity growth to slow only a touch to a 1.7 percent pace from the third quarter's 1.8 percent rate. They had forecast unit labor costs to rise at a 2 percent rate.
Holden has been chronicling this at First Draft (look for anything referring to the "Bush Boom"), but something has been bugging me about it for the longest time -- and, as per usual, it has to do with the acquiescence and even culpability of the corporate media.
If you go back over the past few years, much more often than not you will see news stories about the drop in productivity, or the sluggishness of the consumer price index, or the lame-ass job growth, or whatever. And you will almost always see some variation of the word "unexpected".
Guys? Mass-media reporting types? Talking heads? It's been going on for four years now. When something happens again and again, week after week, month after month, you should frickin' expect it.
Given the "policies" aiming -- I hesitate to say "driving" -- this economy, I'd say you can expect it for a long time to come.