The American way (2)
Just when Barack Obama must have been looking forward to a peaceful Easter, bad news arrived on Good Friday. The latest employment data showed a sharp slowdown in jobs growth.
But before I talk more about the US job market, I must admit that something is puzzling me. Am I the only person who finds it ironic that, while communist Cuba recently declared Good Friday a public holiday (at least for this year) — following a visit and a request by the pope — Good Friday, unlike Christmas Day, is not a federal public holiday in the US, where politicians are always flaunting their Christian beliefs?
Instead, Good Friday is a public holiday in just 14 US states — for example, in New Jersey, but not in neighbouring New York. Nor, bizarrely, is Good Friday a public holiday in Ireland, unlike in the UK. Go figure, as the Americans say.
Interestingly, the most significant peace agreement for Northern Ireland was signed on Good Friday in 1998. See here for Tony Blair's hilarious "it's not a day for soundbites" comment. I remember hearing this live and falling off my chair laughing at the "hand of history" soundbite which then followed.
Anyway, sorry, I got distracted by Easter, which, as I have said before, is my favourite time of the year: death and rebirth, metaphorically if not literally.
Last year, I predicted that Greece's resurrection was a long way off. It still is. Whether Barack Obama's administration can be metaphorically reborn in November will depend largely on the US economy. Friday's data showed a net increase in non-farm payroll jobs of just 120,000, well below the expected 205,000 and the lowest increase since October 2011. Unemployment stayed at 8.2 per cent, partly helped by discouraged workers (see here) no longer looking for employment.
To encourage job creation, Congress recently passed a law to reduce the red tape on young firms wanting to raise capital. The law is called the JOBS Act or — "rather ludicrously", as The Economist described it — the "Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act". Anyway, I'm sticking with the forecast I made in January: Obama will indeed win a second term.
Business Spotlight is also being reborn this week. Eleven years after the print magazine was launched on the German-speaking markets — and five years after winning an award as Germany's trade magazine of the year — we are starting an all-English digital international edition on 11 April.
You can download a free copy of Business Spotlight International here. We are looking forward to your feedback.