Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just How Screwed Are We? (Literally)

The following chart shows the 24-month moving average of durable goods employment for turned products and screws, nuts, and bolts.

Click to enlarge.

It "turns" out that we're actually not that "screwed" in the literal sense!

Unfortunately, puns don't put bread on the table. Sigh.

Let's zoom in on the recovery.

Click to enlarge.

That's a nearly perfect parabola over the span of 44 months. Chances are not looking good at all that we will make it back to the blue line. My sincere condolences if you work in this industry. :(

When I was a student in college studying physics, one of our lab experiments involved using time-lapse photography on a ping pong ball in flight. I doubt very much, even in a controlled lab environment, we were able to get an r-squared of 0.9982 on our parabola, due to air resistance if nothing else. And yet, our "new and improved" ZIRP economy can seemingly crank out nearly perfect parabolas effortlessly. Perhaps ZIRP acts as a vacuum? Sigh.

I was also a research assistant in the physics lab. One day my professor handed me some bolts and told me to install them. A few minutes later I returned with the bolts to his office. I accidentally stretched them. He looked at me in utter disbelief. They were carbon steel and were used to secure engine blocks. How on earth could I have stretched them? And yet, there they were, about an inch longer than when he first gave them to me.

Turns out that I did not have the strength of Superman that he thought I had. Further experimentation revealed that although the bolts looked exactly like carbon steel, they performed more like lead. They were counterfeit. Somebody, even as I type this, might be driving around right now with lead engine bolts. No joke. Isn't fraud wonderful? That was probably my first encounter with it personally, although I did eventually see it happen again up close and personal (the company where I worked experienced massive accounting fraud).

January 17, 2007
Former Cendant Boss Sentenced For Fraud

Former Cendant Corp. Chairman Walter Forbes was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years and seven months in prison and ordered to pay $3.275 billion in restitution for leading the largest accounting fraud of the 1990s.

I sure hope the "screws" are treating him nicely!

Source Data:
BLS: CES Databases


dearieme said...

"screws, nuts, and bolts": maybe there's a big recovery in washers, though.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Generally speaking, one would expect a big recovery in washers due to all that liquidity.

It's what comes next that may be disturbing. There's a lot of spin in the dryer times.

Thanks for starting another round of puns. It is always appreciated! ;)

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about your blog - when, over the course of a few years I directed my pessimism elsewhere - but stumbled across it a few days ago looking at another pessimistic financial blog.

It's still very entertaining.

Love the pessimism!

Stagflationary Mark said...


Pessimsm? Heavens no! I'm one of the most optimistic doomsayers out there! Hahaha!

P.S. Thanks! :)