Mar 16, 2014
Why the Lousy Jobs Report Boosted Wall Street
Posted on Feb 10, 2014
By Robert Reich
This post originally ran on Robert Reich’s Web page.
The stock market surged Friday after the lousy jobs report. The Dow soared 160 points, while the S&P 500, and Nasdaq also rose.
How can bad news on Main Street (only 113,000 jobs were created in January, on top of a meager 74,000 in December) cause good news on Wall Street?
Because investors assume:
(2) The slowdown in the Fed’s tapering will continue to make buying shares of stock a better deal than buying bonds – thereby pushing investors toward the stock market.
(3) Continued low interest rates will also continue to make it profitable for big investors (including corporations) to borrow money to buy back their own shares of stock, thereby pushing up their values. Apple and other companies that used to spend their spare cash and whatever they could borrow on new inventions are now focusing on short-term stock performance.
(4) With the job situation so poor, most workers will be so desperate to keep their jobs, or land one, that they will work for even less. This will keep profits high, make balance sheets look good, fuel higher stock prices.
But what’s bad for Main Street and good for Wall Street in the short term is bad for both in the long term. The American economy is at a crawl. Median household incomes are dropping. The American middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep the economy going. And as companies focus ever more on short-term share prices at the expense of long-term growth, we’re in for years of sluggish performance.
When, if ever, will Wall Street learn?
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