* Institute of Government and Public Affairs…
The University of Illinois Flash Index in November rose slightly to 105.5 from its 105.4 level last month. However, the reading from November does not reflect the economic impact of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
“This suggests the economy may remain in a twilight world for some time in which concerns about the virus remain unresolved,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
But, Giertz said that longer-term prospects for the economy remain positive. “There is strong pent-up consumer demand, although the picture is clouded by supply chain problems, the threat of inflation and, now, the new virus concern,” he said.
All the components of the Flash Index (individual income tax, sales tax, and corporate tax receipts) were up slightly compared to the same month last year after adjusting for inflation. The Illinois unemployment rate fell to a post-recession low of 6.0% compared to the 8.1% rate a year ago. The Illinois rate is still well above the national level of 4.6%.
The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, individual income, and retail sales taxes. These are adjusted for inflation before growth rates are calculated. The growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through November 30, 2021.
Even though more than a year has passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, ad hoc adjustments will still be needed for some time because of the timing of the tax receipts resulting from state and Federal changes in payment dates both this and last year.
* Meanwhile, I found this piece interesting because it upends so much conventional “wisdom.” From Matthew Boesler, Joe Deaux and Katia Dmitrieva…
Fattest Profits Since 1950 Debunk Wage-Inflation Story of CEOs
In the past two quarters, U.S. corporations outside of the finance industry posted their fattest margins since 1950 — one reason why stock markets keep hitting all-time highs.
On earnings calls, plenty of executives complained about the squeeze from rising costs of labor as well as materials. But overall, profits were up 37% from a year earlier, according to data out last week from the Commerce Department.
Businesses have been paying out more cash to their employees too, with total compensation up 12% in the last quarter from a year earlier. That’s partly because millions of Americans went back to work — but also because many got a raise when they did so. Hourly earnings broadly kept up with the fast-rising cost of living, and in some low-pay industries like leisure and hospitality they comfortably outpaced it. […]
U.S. consumer prices rose 6.2% in the 12 months through October, the most since 1990. The new data on corporate earnings suggest business can comfortably pass on all its higher costs, which means there may be more inflationary pressure to come.
That seeming willingness by businesses to pass along higher costs rather than try to keep prices low and, therefore, eat into their record profits is likely gonna trigger action by the Federal Reserve.
…Adding… I meant to add these stories and forgot…
* EV versions of Dodge muscle cars may be on track for Belvidere factory. The expected move to build the Charger and Challenger where Stellantis now manufactures Jeep Cherokees is part of a reshuffling of plants as the automaker develops a new platform for its electric vehicles.
* Finally, a tech sector Chicago can call its own. Why the city appeals to startups and giants in the growing agriculture technology sector.
* Natural gas plunges on demand-killing weather outlook. Forecasts shifted warmer through the middle of next month, allaying concern about tight domestic natural gas supplies.