An economist of my acquaintance, back when I wrote about the Michigan economy as a young wire-service reporter, always greeted my phone calls for comment on employment with finger-tapping impatience.
It's a trailing indicator! -- he would say -- It tells where we've been, not where we're going, so it's not interesting.
And he was quite right. Unemployment -- a layoff or a failure to find work -- or employment -- the creation of a job -- are both driven by events far in the past. They're the end game of the process, not the cause.
Past sometimes is prologue, but not always. So the smart economist -- and the smart trader -- will be looking at indicators upstream from jobs as a guide to the future.
Even so, the unemployment and employment figures will motivate a large number of traders during the week, a fact that, however unreasonable, must be taken into account.
On Monday, the week kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Eastern with personal income and outlays, and from those are derived the savings rate.
Tuesday starts the jobs theme with the employment cost index at 8:30 a.m. That is followed by the S&P Case-Shiller home price index in 20 metro areas at 9 a.m., the Chicago purchasing managers index at 9:45 a.m. and consumer confidence at 10 a.m.
More jobs on Wednesday, with the Challenger job-cut report at 7:30 a.m. and the ADP employment report at 8:15 a.m. ADP gets its data from the payrolls it handles. Also, motor vehicle sales throughout the day, construction spending and the Institute of Supply Managements manufacturing index at 10 a.m., and petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m.
And yet more jobs on Thursday, with the jobless claims report at 8:30 a.m. Also out, productivity and costs, also at 8:30.
And finally, Friday comes, and the Labor Department releases the real deal: The employment situation report at 8:30 a.m. Also out on Friday, factory orders and the ISM's non-manufacturing index, both at 10 a.m.
Dallas Fed Pres. Richard Fisher is the lone Fedster speaking during the week, at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday. He stood among three Federal Open Market Committee members who voted last summer against expanding the money supply further to encourage economic growth.
Fisher took office under President George W. Bush. His resume shows institutional ties to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s strategic advisory firm, the private bank Brown Brothers Harriman Inc., and his own money management firm.
Practical trading: By my rules, as of Monday I can trade March vertical and calendar spreads, and May singles and straddles. Of course, shares are good at any time.