I was born and raised in New York. Never got very far. New York has always been called the Empire State and it was always spelled with a capital "E", of course. But led by Machine Politico David Paterson (sorry, I can't be apolitical on this one: it has nothing to do with his political party; it has everything to do with the man), who followed the world-famous Elliot Spitzer, I try to duck the question of where I am from almost like I duck the question of what I do. Traveling throughout the country and telling people you're from New York and work on Wall Street halts a lot of conversations.
Trying to rival Rhode Island for corrupt politics is one thing, but falling down as a commercial and industrial center is another. The Empire State Index was released Monday morning and registered a dismal 7.1 on its own version of the Richter scale. That is down from 19 in June, although up a touch from 5.1 in July.
At first glance it looks as though manufacturing stabilized a bit, being almost unchanged from last month. Unfortunately, the "new orders index" subcomponent fell to a 14-month low of -2.7 from 10.1, and the "shipments index" to a 16-month low of 6.3 (from 11.5). The all-important "employment index" did rise to 14.3 from 7.9, but as Paul Ashworth of Toronto's Capital Economics says, "it is hard to see manufacturing firms adding extra workers for much longer if new orders are drying up." Net/net, this is a lousy report.