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November 28, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Robots need a human hand

Before the holiday break, I left MainStreet Macro readers with a bit of a cliffhanger. We had just heard about layoffs at some of the biggest technology companies, a sector that has seen a lot of growth over the past several years.
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November 14, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Don’t read too much into tech sector layoffs

Last week, while I was waiting with bated breath for the October inflation report, the headlines were buzzing with a series of announcements that seemed to bode poorly for the economy. Tech companies had muscled into the news cycle, announcing massive layoffs and hiring freezes. The cuts were dramatic and part of a running trend: The sector has shed nearly 120,000 jobs globally so far this year, and more than 23,000 in November alone, according to one layoff tracker.
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October 31, 2022

MainStreet Macro: A Walk down Main Street: Buffalo, N.Y.

When was the last time you took a walk down a real Main Street, the commercial hub of any small town or city? I recently had a chance to do just that with Kai Ryssdal, host of the “Marketplace” broadcast on American Public Media. Kai and I took a tour of Elmwood Avenue, a happening strip of local businesses in central Buffalo. Why Buffalo? Kai is a New York Giants fan, so it had nothing to do with the Bills’ near-flawless season. No, we headed to Buffalo because ADP Research Institute data recently showed that wages for lower-paid workers in the city had skyrocketed, jumping 40 percent from 2019 to 2021. Last year, for the first time, low-end salaries grew more rapidly in America’s most affordable cities than anywhere else.
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October 24, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Student debt: The other side of the mountain

The application process has begun! No, not for college admission, for student loan forgiveness. Last week, the Biden administration opened the application process debt forgiveness, the first step in the president’s three-part plan to help low- to middle-income borrowers saddled with big tuition bills. There are no transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, or letters of recommendation required. Applicants for this program need to meet only one threshold: Debt holders must earn less than $125,000 a year in individual income or $250,000 in household income to be eligible. The payoff: up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness, or, for recipients of federal Pell Grants, which are distributed to students with financial need, up to $20,000.
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October 17, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Inflation and Coffee:  A Love Story

I love coffee. It’s what I wake up for. I’d like to say that I spring out of bed to make breakfast for my sons, walk my dog Lavender, take an invigorating run, or even dig into economic data (my passion). The truth is, I wake up for coffee. As I assess events currently shaping the global economy, coffee has come up. Yes, it powers me through my workday, but coffee also is a window into the forces that are rocking our world. Here are three ways coffee is feeling the effects of the global economy.
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October 10, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Jobs week delivered good news, but a riddle endures

Jobs week is one of my favorite times of the month, and these days the importance of employment data is even more pronounced. With inflation bearing down, U.S. job and wage reports provide the clearest signals available on whether hiring and pay are on pace to drive up the cost of goods and services even more. So without further ado, let’s take a walk through the jobs week that was.
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October 3, 2022

MainStreet Macro: The private-data revolution

Yes, a normal day is still about 24 hours. But scientists say that Earth has been spinning faster, shaving milliseconds off a typical day. There’s evidence, in fact, that this year the planet is moving faster than it did in 2021 or 2020. If that’s not enough speed for you, there’s another acceleration under way, one that’s affecting the frequency of data
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September 26, 2022

MainStreet Macro: Another repercussion of Fed rate hikes: The dollar

The Federal Reserve last week took another aggressive whack at too-high inflation, raising its benchmark interest rate by three-fourths of a percentage point. It’s the third time in a row the Fed has taken such a big step, and indications are it won’t be the last. Central bank policymakers have telegraphed that they plan to raise the federal funds rate a by a combined 1.25 per percentage points in their last two meetings of 2022.
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