March 7, 2021

Economix Blog: Weekend Business Podcast: Job Creation, Cantor Fitzgerald and Keynes

The government’s report on hiring, which showed no gain in jobs in August, provided fresh evidence that the recovery has fizzled without ever gaining momentum.

The report increases the pressure on President Obama as he prepares to deliver an address next week about job creation, on Republicans who have a starkly different approach to economic revival, and on the Federal Reserve, whose policy makers have been divided over what to do next, Shaila Dewan says in a conversation in the new Weekend Business podcast.

While the new data was worse than expected, several economists said the problem is not that companies have been laying off their employees, though there was an uptick in announced layoffs, but that they have delayed investing in new workers.

The 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington is approaching, and perhaps more than any other company, the brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald came to symbolize the horrors of that tragedy. Almost one-fourth of the people killed in New York City that morning worked for the firm. In a podcast conversation, Susanne Craig talks about the strategy of Howard W. Lutnick, who ran Cantor then and still does today. Mr. Lutnick has defied those who said that he and Cantor were finished, and he has rebuilt his firm.

In another podcast conversation and in the Economic View column in Sunday Business, Robert J. Shiller contends that the surge of stock market volatility over the last month cannot be explained by conventional means. He turns to the work of John Maynard Keynes, who once compared the stock market to a beauty contest. Keynes described a newspaper contest in which 100 photographs of faces were displayed, and readers were asked to choose the six prettiest. The winner would be the reader whose list of six came closest to the most popular of the combined lists of all readers. The best strategy, Keynes said, is to select those faces that you think others will think prettiest. Better yet, he said, move to the “third degree” — by picking the faces you think that others think that still others think are prettiest. Translated into the current market, investors appear to be trying to outguess one another.

 You can find specific segments of the podcast at these junctures: Shaila Dewan on the jobs report (23:36); news summary (19:23); Susanne Craig on Cantor Fitzgerald (17:23); Robert Shiller (8:05); the week ahead (1:05).

As articles discussed in the podcast are published during the weekend, links will be added to this post.

You can download the program by subscribing from The New York Times’s podcast page or directly from iTunes.

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