By John Kell and Alan Murray
August 29, 2016

Good morning.


With Labor Day approaching, Amazon has told its sister publication, the Washington Post, that it is launching some technical teams that will only clock in for 30 hours a week (and only make 75% of full-time pay, but with full benefits.) The idea is to “create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth.”


The experiment addresses several issues in the current zeitgeist:


–Concern among millennials about work/life balance;


–Concerns about the low percentage of women in technology jobs;


–Concern that artificial intelligence and other technology advances will reduce the availability of work in the future;


–Concerns that Amazon is a modern-day sweat shop, raised by a New York Times series last year.


To be sure, part-time pay for part-time work is nothing new. And predictions that workers will need to move to a shorter workweek in the future have been around for half a century, even as the average American workweek has gotten longer. Still, this sounds like a worthy experiment.


Meanwhile, markets are still dissecting Janet Yellen’s speech in Jackson Hole on Friday. But very few commentators have focused on her penultimate paragraph, which pointed out that we are putting far too much emphasis on the Fed to address economic problems:


“Finally, and most ambitiously, as a society we should explore ways to raise productivity growth. Stronger productivity growth would tend to raise the average level of interest rates and therefore would provide the Federal Reserve with greater scope to ease monetary policy in the event of a recession. But more importantly, stronger productivity growth would enhance Americans’ living standards. Though outside the narrow field of monetary policy, many possibilities in this arena are worth considering, including improving our educational system and investing more in worker training; promoting capital investment and research spending, both private and public; and looking for ways to reduce regulatory burdens while protecting important economic, financial, and social goals.”



Wouldn’t it be nice if our presidential candidates were talking about the same?



More news below.



Alan Murray


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