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What to Expect from the November Jobs Report

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The Labor Department will release the latest hiring and unemployment figures for November at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Wall Street analysts are forecasting a stronger showing than the previous month, with payroll gains of 180,000, up from the 128,000 initially reported for October.

  • The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 3.6 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.3 percent, after moving up 0.2 percent in October. That would bring the year-over-year increase to 3 percent.

However fat — or thin — November’s payrolls gains may look, the jump in hiring will not be as big as the report’s totals might suggest. Nearly 50,000 striking workers at General Motors returned to their jobs last month. Their six-week walkout meant that they were not included in the government’s October surveys.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton, said the job creation numbers could be further inflated by another 12,000 workers at auto suppliers and related businesses, who were also not working because of the G.M. strike and have now been rehired. She is also keeping her eye out for job losses related to reductions in the number of temporary Census workers.

Thus, she and other analysts say, it will be more important than usual to look at the categories where the job gains are the strongest and weakest.

One of the best consequences of a tight labor market is that the American work force has been expanding. Employers have widened their scope and become more open to recruiting people whom they might not have a few years earlier, including those who have disabilities or criminal records. Older baby boomers are working past retirement age, and stay-at-home parents are switching to paid employment.

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When Pete Buttigieg Was One of McKinsey’s ‘Whiz Kids’

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Beyond Mr. Buttigieg’s agreement with McKinsey, this is something of an awkward moment to be associated with the consultancy, especially if you happen to be a Democratic politician in an election year shadowed by questions of corporate power and growing wealth inequality. The firm has long advocated business strategies like raising executive compensation, moving labor offshore and laying off workers to cut costs. And over the last couple of years, reporting in The New York Times and other publications has revealed episodes tarnishing McKinsey’s once-sterling reputation: its work advising Purdue Pharma on how to “turbocharge” opioid sales, its consulting for authoritarian governments in places like China and Saudi Arabia, and its role in a wide-ranging corruption scandal in South Africa. (All of these came after Mr. Buttigieg left the firm.)

Just this week, ProPublica, copublishing with The Times, revealed that McKinsey consultants had recommended in 2017 that Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut its spending on food for migrants and medical care for detainees.

After a campaign event on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Buttigieg remarked on the latest revelations. “The decision to do what was reported yesterday in The Times is disgusting,” he said. “And as somebody who left the firm a decade ago, seeing what certain people in that firm have decided to do is extremely frustrating and extremely disappointing.”

The Buttigieg campaign says he has asked to be let out of his nondisclosure agreement so he can be more forthcoming about that formative time in his life. A McKinsey spokesman said Mr. Buttigieg “worked with several different clients” during his time with the firm, but “beyond that, we have no comment on specific client work.”

But interviews with six people who were involved in projects that Mr. Buttigieg worked on at McKinsey, along with gleanings from his autobiography, fill in some of the blanks.

Mr. Buttigieg was recruited by McKinsey at Oxford. The company seeks out Rhodes scholars like him, banking that their intellects will make up for their lack of M.B.A.s from traditional recruiting grounds like Harvard Business School.

Yet even during the recruitment process, Mr. Helbling recalled, Mr. Buttigieg made it known that, like many applicants, he saw the business experience on offer at McKinsey as a good job “in the near term,” in his case an asset on the way to a career in public service.

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Breakingviews – Hong Kong pushes financial-hub limits

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Reuters
Reuters

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Hong Kong is conducting a real-time experiment: What are the minimum conditions for a functioning financial centre? Months of increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police have challenged some of the strengths that make it Asia’s foremost international hub.

Banking and trading nerve centres need easy movement of money and people, free flows of information, stable laws and peace. Hong Kong has long had all of these, enshrined in the 50-year agreement under which Britain handed the territory to China in 1997. It also offers low tax rates. Yet less than halfway through the transition, its status is in serious doubt.

Calm was the first casualty of demonstrations sparked by a controversial extradition bill introduced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. In scenes that shocked a city where violence is rare, protesters trashed shops and started fires as police fired tear gas, water cannon and even live bullets. The battle culminated in a medieval siege at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, where activists armed with petrol bombs and a makeshift catapult confronted police who had sealed off exit routes. Travellers using the airport, subway and harbour tunnels have all faced disruption.

The independent legal system, a legacy of British rule, is also under strain. The now-withdrawn legislation raised the spectre of suspects being whisked across the border and into China’s opaque courts. Hong Kong judges face meddling from Beijing. When the territory’s Supreme Court last month threw out a proposed government ban on face masks, China’s top legislature declared the justices had no power to rule whether the proposal was constitutional.

These infringements have made Hongkongers question their other freedoms. Though fund managers can still move money around the world from gleaming high-rise towers on the harbour, they talk about establishing backup offices in Singapore or Sydney. Bankers report a surge in wealthy clients opening accounts elsewhere. Expats compare emergency evacuation plans in case China cracks down. And though information remains freely accessible, locals are keenly aware how easily the digital “great firewall” could be extended from the mainland.

Yet Hong Kong’s financial apparatus keeps humming along. As office workers in the financial district fled tear gas during their lunch hour, Alibaba last month raised almost $13 billion in a secondary listing on the Hong Kong exchange. Retail investors placed orders worth 40 times the amount they had been allocated, Reuters reported.

The e-commerce giant’s listing underscores Hong Kong’s appeal. The $520 billion New York-listed company has long faced pressure to give Chinese investors access to its shares. Growing economic tensions with the United States provide further impetus for an alternative trading venue. But an offering on the Shanghai or Shenzhen exchanges would have been highly complicated for a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. That made Hong Kong the only credible alternative.

The city ranks fourth as a financial centre when it comes to attracting cross-border funds or international bank assets, far ahead of Asian rivals, according to a 2018 study by New Financial, a think tank. While the mainland bourses serve China’s vast domestic market, they remain largely walled off for international capital. For that to change, China will have to relax tight controls on financial flows and develop a legal regime that foreign buyers can trust. That would take decades.

These relative advantages may help insulate Hong Kong from more severe suppression. Both expat and local executives and financiers hope the overwhelming support for pro-democracy parties in district council elections last month will prompt the government to back down. Concessions could include an official inquiry into the recent violence and the reintroduction of limited proposals for broader democratic votes. Another idea is for Beijing to extend the 50-year handover period far beyond 2047.

Local tycoons are also belatedly recognising that rampant inequality, as evidenced by sky-high property prices, is partly to blame for the turmoil. A construction push could help boost home ownership, which has fallen below 50% of the population. In Singapore, the figure is above 90%.

Economic sops, however, may be insufficient to calm younger generations for whom the protests are an expression of an identity distinct from the rest of China. If violence persists, the People’s Republic may decide that squashing a challenge to its authority is more important than preserving a financial hub. Companies that don’t need access to China could relocate their regional headquarters. Bankers serving Chinese clients could be stationed on the mainland.

There is a chance Hong Kong goes the way of Antwerp, Venice or Beirut: once-mighty financial hubs which succumbed to adverse economic and political shifts. So long as mainland China’s alternative centres tick fewer boxes, though, the city will retain its relative appeal.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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