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Autos, jobs and the FED

Auto sales matter to the economy

Benz “Velo” model (1894) by German inventor Carl Benz among the first cars with many billions more to follow!

Beyond housing, its jobs, autos and the FED

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This is Part 2 of 2 in the White Top View series: Key Market Indicators. Previously, in Part 1, 4 Key market indicators cut the noise we introduced and discussed the key market indicators, jobs, housing, autos and the FED. This time we bring it together and discuss the Fed or U.S. Federal Reserve funds rate that ties directly to our stock market future.

We begin with further comments on employment.

Employment 3 and 6 month trends

Employment trends matter to the economy

3 and 6 month employment trends are a key indicator of the economic outlook.

There is always too much noise in the stock market. Some of that noise comes from conflicting employment reporting and constant revisions of previously reported numbers. Employment statistics are endlessly sliced, diced, analysed…and then revised! Just note the big picture trends and more along.

Gathering correct employment information presents a huge challenge. Frequently there are revisions of past reports. That means any new numbers are subject to change! So how do we make use of changing information?

We look at trends. The numbers use to produce employment trends of 3 and 6 months also get tweaked. However, the big trend picture remains constant. The patterns seldom change, especially when we step back from the noise.

What to do when employment numbers change

By being cautious with any new numbers on each employment report, and basing our decisions on longer trends, we keep ourselves on a stable and reliable track. That more reliable information gives us a tool for making better strategic and investing decisions.

The employment struggle will continue in some markets and for some people, as it always does. Overall the picture usually tilts slightly to the positive.

That is the case now. Growth is underway. I expect the positive trend to continue although this picture remains far from rosy.

This remains so even as the employment market undergoes some deep and fundamental changes. The meaning of employment itself continues to change as market forces and approaches have introduced some irreversible and powerful new players.

For our purposes here, the fundamental paycheck, however earned or even when from multiple sources, is the key driver. Employment of whoever or of whatever sort, remains THE key economic driver. Trending up – good, trending down – bad!

Auto sales 3 and 6 month trends

Billions made with billions more auto to come! I can’t imagine a greater mass of many things that we humans create more of than autos!

Still seeing shiny new vehicles on your street are good economic signs. It does not matter if they are economy cars, sports cars or huge fully loaded luxury trucks. More and new is good. At least economically, for now!

The auto markets have had some bumps but generally are hitting record after record. Overall, the North American picture is positive. I expect this positive trend to continue for the foreseeable future. Of the three, jobs, houses and cars, autos are the least important indicator among an important group. But they can be seen as the most sensitive to economic change. That makes them the most sensitive indicator.

Consider your own behavior and attitude. New job, pay raise or when your business is going well, often means we soon see a new car outside your place! Job or income worries mean any car buying notions can be put off for months or years. Cars are a major buy, made when we feel good!

Buying a house or changing jobs, when not forced to, are far more deliberate and careful economic moves for most people. Usually such decisions get made after months of thinking about it. Cars are more often purchased on an emotional whim. That makes them the best indicator, of those three keys, to warn or signal an economic change.

Very long-term there are certainly some inevitable changes that will significantly affect the auto industry and economy. Major changes are coming but are many years aways yet.

U.S. Federal Reserve funds rate

The FED is like us in some ways. Like us, what they say is very important, but most important is what they do!

What is the FED doing? Again, it is the trend, not the absolute numbers that are important. Rates are on the floor and are staying there. The trend is flat, stable and will remain so for a long time.

Again, like us, at least for those who follow the White Top Investor, the FED pays attention to job, house and auto numbers and trends. However, the FED goes considerably beyond the simple approach that I take. They study and research in considerably more breadth and depth. The FED is a very well-informed, exceptionally well-educated and well-managed institution.

We don’t know, they don’t know how markets work!

But they aren’t perfect! When it comes to the economy, humans have not learned what perfect is. We humans are still figuring out how this economic stuff and markets work! Even so, the many professionals at the FED are well ahead of the curve. They are certainly well ahead of the pundits and media talking heads that make so much noise.

The FED is far closer to getting it figured out than any other group. They also carry immense economic power into the financial arena. We do need to pay attention.

Every pundit, economist, talking head and guru has a spin on the FED and the fund rate. The noise level is incredible! There are many more PhD theses still to write that will join the many thousands now gathering dust on the shelf!

Thank goodness, we can ignore them all! What matters is what the FED actually does. For the time being that means nothing. The FED funds rate remains on the floor. I expect that to continue for some long time yet.

For anyone on Earth, the U.S. FED fund rate is key. All other central banks and economies are directly and substantially affected by it. So no matter where you live this one is the one key rate. All other national and regional rates will be directly affected if not actually determined by it. That will hold true for more decades yet. Not forever, but for many more years. Yes, you can count on it!

That concludes our discussion on the big 4 indicators, jobs, housing, autos and the FED covered in the White Top View, Key Market Indicator series.

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Have a prosperous day!


White Top Investor
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These discussions and information intend to help you better understand markets and investing. I am not a financial or investment advisor; opinions are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended as investment advice. For syndication of the site or blog, please contact © 2014 Bryan Kelly

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4 Responses to Autos, jobs and the FED

  1. Beth Niebuhr October 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Nice article, Bryan. So many people just watch the current figures instead of paying attention to trends. You’ve pointed this out very clearly and thank you for it.

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