Friday’s jobs report was a big disappointment.
But looking beyond that report, one economist raised serious doubts that the American economy was suddenly falling apart.
Tom Porcelli, chief economist for RBC Capital Markets, argues the jobs report seems out of sync with most other economic indicators.
“Given what the multitude of employment metrics had been flagging about the jobs landscape, the September employment report seems like something right out of Bizarro World,” wrote Porcelli in a note to clients.
He pointed specifically to the purchasing activity in markets that require long-term financing requirements: cars and houses.
“In case anyone missed it, auto sales just shot up to a fresh cycle high of 18.2 million (also the best since 2005) while mortgage purchase applications through late September were running 20% above year-ago levels,” said Porcelli.
“Consumers do not commit on these types of purchases if the jobs landscape is all of a sudden crumbling beneath their feet. This is an important point in the context of what we are trying to drive home.”
As we pointed out last week, committing to a house or a car takes a relatively high level of confidence in the current job market and outlook for income. These purchasing habits are continuing to strengthen.
Morgan Stanley’s Ryosuke Hoshino and Kota Mineshima point out that auto sales are at the highest since before the recession after a 10-year record sales in September. They argued that the
outlook remains strong as well.
“Finance conditions remain loose, and gasoline is still cheap as well,” said Hoshino and Mineshima. “It is hard to imagine demand levels falling off in the near term.”
“What we are highlighting is that despite [Friday’s] modest outcome all of those other things we have just highlighted continue to perform well,” said Porcelli. “And assuming job growth is not falling off a cliff — none of the hi-frequency data support that notion — then achieving sturdy consumption growth of around 3% is still easily achieved.”
The jobs report may not have been up to expectations, but for Porcelli it’s not a sign of economic collapse.