Macroeconomic data

Labor Force Participation Rate

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) equals labor force divided by population. Female LFPR grew steadily after WWII, then plateaued in the noughts. Male LFPR mostly declined, due to an increasing number of males in retirement. Especially teenagers experienced a reduction in LFPR during the 21st century.

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Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate for adult men and women are of similar magnitude, while teenagers have a much higher rate. Note that the unemployment rate lags, in that it peaks at the end or even after a recession (the pink bars). In the recovery after the most recent recession, teenager unemployment has reached historically high levels, and male unemployment has exceeded that of females.

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There are currently two popular ways to measure inflation in consumer goods prices, one based on the Consumer Price Index (shown here) and the other on Personal Consumption Expenditures. The Producer Price Index provides a measure of inflation for producer goods, and the GDP implicit deflator provides a means of calculating the broadest measure of price changes. Note that producer prices are by far the most volatile, and that they tend to fall sharply during and after recessions (the pink bars).They also appear to lead consumer prices.

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Crude Oil Prices

Oil prices surged prior to and into the latest recession. Demand for petroleum from newly industrializing countries (most notably China) drove up prices.

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Gold Prices

Gold prices typically rise during times of crisis and uncertainty, when investors perceive gold as a relatively safe haven.

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Interest Rates

Here one can see how yields are higher on riskier bonds (Baa is riskier than Aaa).Interest rates spiked sharply in the early 1980s, due to high inflation and the Fed’s (successful) efforts to reduce that inflation.

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Real per capita income

By historical standards, we are incredibly rich. The average American has about three times as much “stuff” today as the average American in 1955, the year I was born.