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Why the 'Jobs Number' Doesn't Tell the Full Story

Why the 'Jobs Number' Doesn't Tell the Full Story (Bloomberg) "Among the many statistics that economic policymakers look to, none matters more than the "jobs number," and 2010 was the year it refused to drop. Today the national unemployment rate hovers near where it began the year, just shy of 10 percent. For all its totemic power, the jobs number masks a messier reality. It is only an estimate, like a poll or a Nielsen rating, the product of a complex process of research and calculation. Without understanding the assumptions built into the figure, we can't fully understand what it can and cannot tell us. "

CNBC's Christina Cheddar Berk: Retail Strong Heading into Holidays (CNBC) "Cash registers are continuing to ring up big sales in the final days before Christmas, easing fears of a front-loaded holiday season. Customer Growth Partners President Craig Johnson expects this holiday season to surpass 2007's total sales record of $508 billion. This means that not only will this holiday season post the strongest year-over-year growth since 2005's 6.1 percent gain, but it could be the best since 1999's 8.8 percent increase, he said."

"Funding Fight Looms on Health and Finance Laws" (WSJ) "A Senate deal to fund the federal government until March doesn't include money to launch new health care and financial industry regulations, setting up an early Republican victory in the battle over spending priorities. The deal to fund the government until March 4 is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote Tuesday. The estimated $218 billion measure is expected to clear the Senate and House before a Tuesday Dec. 21 deadline, when current government spending authority expires. If the resolution passes without funding to ramp up President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul or beef up agencies that regulate Wall Street, the fate of those regulatory efforts will be decided after Republicans assume control of the House and gain votes in the Senate."

Gold Up — On User Demand (Bloomberg) "Gold rose as two weeks of declines attracted buying from physical users and investors, with holdings in exchange-traded products backed by the metal gaining to an all-time high. Silver also increased. Immediate-delivery bullion gained 0.8 percent to $1,386.30 an ounce at 3:33 p.m. in Singapore. The price lost 0.8 percent last week following a 2 percent drop the week before. The February-delivery contract rose 0.5 percent to $1,385.80 an ounce on the Comex in New York. "

Wells Fargo Agrees to $2 Billion in Loan Mods for CA Homeowners (Bloomberg) "Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to provide loan modifications worth more than $2 billion to California homeowners who have “pick-a-pay” loans, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said. Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, also will pay $32 million to borrowers whose homes were lost in foreclosure, Brown said today in a statement."

"S.E.C. Sues Former Carter’s Executive" (NY Times) "The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday accused a former executive at the children’s clothing marketer Carter’s of securities fraud and insider trading, saying that he manipulated discounts to its biggest customer. The S.E.C. also announced that it had agreed not to bring charges against Carter’s, which reported the alleged financial misstatements by the official, Joseph M. Elles, who served as executive vice president of sales for the Atlanta-based company."

Wall Street