I just got back from Edmonton, Alberta (that's in Canada for those who are geographically challenged) doing our famous He-Said-She-Said act with Donna Brazile. We were speaking to western state (in the U.S.) and western provincial (in Canada) legislators.
I started my remarks by saying if you asked 100 Canadians who Barack Obama is, 99 of them would get the answer right. One would say he only speaks French.
If, on the other hand, you asked 100 Americans who Stephen Harper is, 50 would say they have no idea, 48 would say he's the 19-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals (that would be Bryce Harper), one would get it right: Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada.
One would say he only speaks French.
Mark the following dates on your calendar: August 3, September 7, October 5, and November 2.
Those are the first Friday of each of the next four months. At 8:30 Eastern time on each of those dates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the previous month's unemployment figures.
Apple missed Wall Street expectations for its quarterly earnings but the numbers are still awe-inspiring. Apple sold 26 million iPhones in the three months ending June 30 and 17 million iPads.
Apple-watchers suspect a big part of the lower-than-expected numbers are the potentially huge numbers of consumers who are waiting a few months for the expected release of the iPhone 5 sometime this Fall rather than buying that stodgy old iPhone 4s.
Even though Apple missed analysts' estimates, don't expect your local Apple store to go dark any time soon. Apple reported profits of $8.8 billion on sales of $35 billion. And that's just for the past three months.
Finally, a quick peek at Major League Baseball. By this time in four of their six previous seasons in DC, those following the Washington Nationals were betting on what date they would lose their 100th game.
In their first year as the Nationals, they were 52-36 at the All-Star break, leading the NL East. But then they went 28-45 the rest of the way and finished out of the money.
Last year they finished one game under .500 at 80-81, but were never really in the pennant chase.
As of last night, the Nats were 57-39 and leading the second place Atlanta Braves by 4.5 games. It is unlikely they will win 100 games in 2012. At their current pace the Nationals would win 96 games.
But, the Nats would have to go 5=61 the rest of the way to lose 100 games.
That about covers what I was thinking about on the plane flights home today.If the first Friday is the first day of the month, the report slips to the second Friday. I'm not certain there will be a November 2 unemployment report what with that being only (a) the second day of the month, and (b) four days before election day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost about 650 points since May. The disappointing quarterly earnings reports and soft 2nd half guidance from U.S. corporations are unlikely to signal a spurt in hiring.
Just this week UPS offered what The Street called "an unusually glum outlook" for global economic growth.
Why does anyone care what UPS thinks? According to the article:
"UPS' results are considered to be a key indicator of the global economy because, at any given moment, the company has 6% of the U.S. GDP and 2% of the world's GDP in its system."
In a conference call about its earnings, UPS' CEO Scott Davis told analysts:
"Economies around the world are weakening and our customers are increasingly nervous."
If U.S unemployment remains above 8 percent or, worse yet, ticks up from its current top-line rate of 8.2 percent it will be very difficult for the Obama campaign to blame the economic situation on Romney's tax returns.