Archive for the ‘Recession’ Category

Captain Rick: U.S. Job Growth has crawled upward to pass the break-even rate with with population growth. The trend is in the right direction. The jobs being added are mostly low wage. There is little hope of regaining the 8.7 million medium to high wage jobs lost during the Great Recession any time soon.

The chart below shows the new jobs added during each month of the the past year. 

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GREEN LINE: an average of 214,000 new jobs have been created each month during the past year

BLUE LINE: an average of 185,000 new jobs need to be created each month to keep up with U.S. Population growth of 0.7%

REAL JOB GROWTH: is represented by the difference between the Green and Blue lines … 29,000 new jobs each month that exceed population growth.

How long will it take to recover the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession: At the ‘Real Job Growth Rate’ of 29,000 new jobs per month, it will require 300 months … or 25 years. That is a long time, during which many other significant concerns will come into play … like the U.S. Debt crisis … on track to explode during the next decade.

Wages remain stagnated: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said she wants to see wages rise faster than inflation so American households will have more buying power. That has yet to happen. I personally think Janet and the entire Fed are living in a ‘dream cloud’.

New poll show majority rating the U.S. economy as ‘Poor’: Many Americans still think the economy is not fully recovered. According to the results of a CNN/ORC International poll released Friday, 41% of people surveyed rate the economy as "good", while 58% rate the economy as "poor."

Perceptions about the U.S. economy will be a key factor in November’s midterm elections: More than a third of the Senate and the entire House are up for grabs. Both sides of the aisle are blaming each other for holding back the recovery. I blame almost all of them. I hope the American voters will exercise their thoughts and register their voices in the upcoming elections and vote out of office the majority of those now in office.

Captain Rick’s Prognosis: America is traveling into uncharted territory, which if not handled properly by the U.S. Congress (which is very unlikely, based on performance in the past decade), has the potential to drive America over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’ and reduce America to a ‘third world nation’.

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Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Links:

Jobs

U.S. Debt Crisis

GDP

Economy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

For lots of great topics … check the ‘Categories’ list and cloud in the left hand column.

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Captain Rick: The 17-nation Eurozone economy contracted for a record sixth consecutive quarter, making this the longest period of recession in the Eurozone’s history. The recession has depressed business confidence, sent unemployment to record highs, inflation to record lows and blown attempts to cut government record debt.

Gross domestic product in the Eurozone fell by 0.2% in the first quarter. The GDP estimate was worse than economists were expecting, largely due to disappointing growth in Germany and could increase pressure on the ECB to take further action to try to stimulate activity.

Unemployment continues to hit new record highs. Unemployment broke through 12% for the first time in March, meaning 19.2 million people were without work in the Eurozone, 1.7 million more than a year ago.
Youth unemployment rose sharply, hitting 24% and leaving 3.6 million people under 25 looking for work.

Prices slumped and inflation has fallen way below the central bank’s target. Inflation posted its biggest monthly drop in four years in April. It fell to 1.2% and touched its lowest level since February 2010.

Eurozone debt hit 8.6 trillion euros, a record 90% of GDP, last year and is forecast to rise to 95% in 2013. As bad as this is … in contrast, U.S. debt to GDP ratio is 107%, trumping it as the worlds worst. One has to wonder if America is next in line to experience the hardships facing those in the Eurozone.

Future Concern: Economists are becoming increasingly concerned at the growing divergence between France and Germany, historically the twin motors of the EU economy and political integration.

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France: French President Francois Hollande (shown above) who was elected a year ago after campaigning to put growth before austerity and introduce higher taxes on the rich, has seen his approval ratings fall sharply as unemployment continues to climb. In recent months he has begun to reform labor markets and pensions, and announced plans to cut capital gains tax. But he is moving too slowly for some, and his government continues to send mixed messages.

France, the Eurozone’s second-biggest economy, slipped back into recession. Its output fell by 0.2% for a second consecutive quarter as it suffered from weak exports and falling investment.  France faces a heavy financial burden from its labor unions and pension systems.

Italy: The pace of contraction eased. GDP shrank by 0.5% in the quarter.
Italy, the region’s third largest economy, nominated a new prime minister. Enrico Letta is a pro-European from Italy’s center-left. He wants Europe to ease up on austerity.

Spain: The recession deepened in the first quarter. The economy contracted by 2% compared with the same period a year ago, and by 0.5% compared with the final quarter of 2012. Spain has been stuck in recession for 21 months. It has been given two more years to bring its budget deficit to below 3% of gross domestic product. In contrast, the U.S. deficit ratio is 6.5% of GDP … more than twice as bad. One has to wonder if America is next in line to experience the hardships facing those in the Eurozone.

The number of unemployed in Spain broke the 6 million barrier during the first quarter, a new record. The unemployment rate rose to 27.2%, tied with Greece for the Eurozone’s highest. For Spaniards aged 16 to 24, the unemployment rate is 57.2%.

Greece: The jobless rate was 27.2% for January, tied with Spain for the Eurozone’s highest. In Greece, 34.2% individuals aged 25 to 34 are unemployed. It’s even worse for younger workers — 59.3% of Greeks aged 15 to 24 are out of work.

Portugal: Portugal was able to slow the pace of contraction to 0.3% from 1.8% in the fourth quarter.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

European Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/european-debt-crisis/

Europe: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/europe/

France: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/france/

Germany: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/germany/

Greece: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/greece/

Italy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/italy/

Portugal: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/portugal/

Spain: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/spain/

Home page (all reports): https://atridim.wordpress.com/

Captain Rick: France enters fourth quarter of recession as business activity slumps in Eurozone’s second largest economy. The French economy stagnated through the course of 2012. France’s performance in the first quarter of 2013 is shaping up to be the worst since the same period in 2009. Readings point to a contraction of 0.2% to 0.3% in Eurozone gross domestic product for the first quarter of 2013, after a 0.6% drop in the final quarter of last year.

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America is not alone when it comes to difficult economic times. European countries have been experiencing similar economic problems to those in America…perhaps worse. The world, including America needs to pay attention to what our friends in Europe are experiencing. We all should see events unfolding in Europe as a ‘crystal ball’ to vision into the future for what is coming our way…especially for America, if it does not correct its current suicidal course of spending far beyond its means. 

Follow my reports of the European Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/european-debt-crisis/

Captain Rick: If the U.S. Federal Government was in control of your household budget, you would be in serious financial trouble!  I have prepared this simple comparison to show you why:

Annual Financial Statement of the United States of America:

U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000

Federal budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

National debt: $ 16,571,000,000,000

Interest on the National debt: $ 222,800,000,000

Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s an annual household budget:

Annual family income: $ 21,700

Money the family spent: $ 38,200

New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $ 165,710

Interest on the credit card: $ 2,228

Total budget cuts so far: $ 385

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What would happen if the bank froze your credit card, preventing more debt?

Can you imagine how bad your budget would be if you were spending $16,500 more each year than you received in income? The interest on your credit card balance would be $2,228 this year and would be added to your massive balance of $165,710. Each year your debt is growing larger at a rapid rate.

Now, suppose your bank lost faith in your ability to pay your balance. Its easy to guess that your bank will freeze your credit card, allowing no further debt. How will you pay the $16,500 in expenditures that were beyond your budget?  How will you make your loan payments, or even pay the $2,228 in interest on your credit balance? You would probably be left with one choice…declare bankruptcy. Luckily, you would have the U.S. Federal Government (Uncle Sam) to excuse your debt and allow you a new financial start.

What would happen if the bank froze Uncle Sam’s credit card, preventing more debt?

The situation with Uncle Sam’s budget is identical to yours, only exponentially larger. However, there is a large difference in who controls the credit. Uncle Sam’s debt is not held by a bank. It is held by a large number of investors, investing firms and countries all around the world. Japan and China hold a large portion of America’s debt. It is highly unlikely that all of the creditors would freeze Uncle Sam’s credit all at once. But, supposing one day China or Japan lost faith in Uncle Sam’s ability to repay their investment…or even the interest on it? Its easy to guess that they would stop further investments in the U.S. federal government.

When a large enough source of new investment is stopped, how will Uncle Sam finance America’s programs which count on $1.65 trillion of borrowed money each year? How will it repay its debt to investors…or even pay the $223 billion in interest on the balance? Unfortunately bankruptcy is not an alternative for Uncle Sam. There is no bigger entity to bail it out or give it a fresh financial start. Its only remaining option will be to reduce payments to various programs so that it stays within the limits of new debt which can be sourced. It could also mean that the U.S. would have to default on its debt owed. This in return would most certainly stop most, if not all of America’s creditors from making further investments. This would worsen the situation and virtually force America to live within its budget, drastically slashing its programs by $1.65 trillion per year. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Defense would most certainly be significantly affected, as they are the largest budget items. Such massive cuts would most certainly cast America into a deep recession, probably far worse than the Great Recession a few years ago.

Captain Rick’s Solution Scenarios

Maintain Current Course of Deficit Spending with only small, token reductions:

This is not an acceptable solution. It will lead to failure of America’s financial system within a few years. The cost of America’s entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are growing in size at an astronomical rate. In a very short time these three programs will consume 100% of all Federal Tax Income, leaving nothing to support the entire balance of the government without deficit spending. With this course, its not a matter of IF the world’s creditors will cut off America’s credit…but WHEN.

Balance the U.S. budget within 10 years:

This is the course America must take if it is to survive. The Fiscal Cliff had a goal of cutting half of the deficit spending 10 years. That was a good start, but congress cant even achieve it. Congress continues kicking America’s debt can down the road, agreeing on allowing only token spending reductions and tax increases. America must do better…soon!

It will require major spending reductions affecting all programs and tax revenue increases across the board. It will also require significant entitlement and grant program reform. The days of Uncle Sam handing out money with a blindfold on must end soon.

Does America have the ‘guts’ to make these sacrifices? Time will tell…but time is running out quickly. I hope for our children’s sake that America gets its act together soon or our kids will likely find themselves living one day in a third world country.

I welcome your comment and hope you will share this with your friends via one of the means I have provided. Together, our voice can make a difference.

More Info:

Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Captain Rick: The Eurozone suffered its third consecutive quarter of decline at the end of 2012 as exports from leading economies Germany and France sank, deepening a regional recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.

Gross domestic product in the 17-nation Eurozone fell by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, leaving its economy 0.5% smaller than it was at the start of the year. The region saw a contraction of 0.1% in the third quarter.
Performances in all four of the region’s biggest economies — Germany, France, Italy and Spain — deteriorated compared to the third quarter of 2012. Output is likely to shrink in 2013 for a second year running, according to the latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund.

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17 Member Eurozone

Germany, the Eurozone’s biggest economy, which accounts for about 30% of Eurozone GDP, suffered a contraction of 0.6%. The decline in GDP was was mainly due to the comparably weak German foreign trade. Exports of goods went down much more than imports of goods.

France, the second biggest economy, suffered a 0.3% contraction. France also suffered a sharp fall in exports in the fourth quarter, down 0.6% after growth of 0.7% in the third.

Weaker growth will make it harder for Eurozone governments to meet their debt-cutting targets and intensify the debate about the impact of a strong euro on the region’s recovery prospects.

With fiscal policy tightening, and the ECB in a holding pattern, exports offer one of the few opportunities for the recession-ravaged region to return to growth.

A stronger euro threatens to cancel out some of the hard-won gains in competitiveness brought about by wage cuts in indebted European states.
 
Many of the 17 Eurozone countries are in the middle of austerity programs that are reducing demand, and prompting households and businesses to defer spending and investment.

While policymakers have signaled a willingness to give states more time to bring their budget deficits into line with European Union targets, if the economy continues to deteriorate, there is no sign of a major change in approach.

Wider 27 Member European Union

The economy of the of 27 states of the EU went into reverse in the fourth quarter, shrinking by 0.5%.

The U.K. contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing it to the brink of a third recession in five years. The Bank of England trimmed its forecasts for U.K. growth in 2013 Wednesday while raising them for inflation.

EU Leaders hope for U.S. Trade Pact to boost Economy

EU leaders are hoping efforts to remove trade barriers with the U.S. could provide a shot in the arm for growth. President Obama promoted this trade pact in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening.
Both sides said this week they wanted to move quickly to start formal talks on a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. 

Captain Rick’s Vision

There are many benefits that could be gained by both economies with such an agreement, especially in the area of regulation…like agricultural, medical and automotive safety standards. Considering the complexities involved, it will require a multi-year approval process…perhaps a decade or more. After all, genetically modified crops, which are commonplace in the U.S., are known as ‘Frankenfoods’ by many in the EU.

A trans-Atlantic free trade agreement will not solve either the EU’s or U.S.’s monumental debt and financial problems. While it could be a tool to help both economies, the EU and the U.S. need to face the realism that their economies are in need of much larger repair…that continual deficit spending of money that does not exist must end. The course that both nations are currently on will not achieve success…more probably, eventual failure. Both nations will need a significant influx of politicians with some ‘serious spine’ to ‘right our ships’. That kind of courage is so rare that I fear for both of our nation’s ‘ships’. Both ‘ships’ are leaning heavily on the port ‘left-welfare’ side. The question that remains is whether our ships are leaning too heavily to prevent the inevitable ‘titanic’ maneuver.

I welcome your comments.

Captain Rick: The January Jobs Report shows a continuing drop in new jobs created and a reality that job creation in America is stuck in neutral … or possibly reverse. 150,000 new jobs are needed to be created every month just to keep pace with population growth as represented by my red line in the chart below. Overall, the U.S. economy lost 8.8 million jobs during the Great Recession, and is still down about 3.2 million jobs from the labor market’s height in January 2008. The 5.6 million jobs that were created since the Great Recession also had to provide for the 9 million new job seekers entering the market since January 2008, due to population growth. Realistically, another 8.8 million jobs would have been needed to be added during the past few years to equal the American job scene of January 2008. At the current pace, those jobs will not be returning any time soon. Making things even worse is the fact that many of the jobs being added are relatively low paying in comparison to the jobs that were lost.

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The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January. That’s slower growth than in December, when employers hired 196,000 workers. Some call it “Groundhog Day in the labor market” and say “We’ve been waking up to this same story for four years.”

The biggest job sector gainers
In January, businesses added 166,000 jobs while federal, state and local governments cut 9,000. The government continued to cut jobs for the fourth month in a row.

Retail added 33,000 jobs, with about a third of those gains at clothing stores.

Construction firms added 28,000 jobs, reflecting a stronger housing market and rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

Health care added 23,000 jobs. Most of those jobs were in ambulatory health care services, a category that includes doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers.

Manufacturers added only 4,000 jobs. The Labor Department noted that employment in this sector has changed little since July. Manufacturing once was the job sector that built and sustained America as a great country. America’s manufacturing jobs have mostly been lost to places like China because of lower wages and NO unions!

Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate increased to 7.9% in January, as 12.3 million people were counted as unemployed.
The number of jobless Americans out of work at least six months was roughly unchanged at 4.7 million and that group represents only 38% of the unemployed.

A broader measure of the job market’s health called the underemployment rate — it includes the unemployed, discouraged Americans who have stopped looking for work and part-time workers who want full-time jobs — was unchanged last month at 14.4%.

Outlook for 2013 and beyond
Economists are expecting job growth to remain stalled during 2013.  Political uncertainty that is still hanging over employers, as they wait for Congress to hash out a budget deal. Amid an impasse between Democrats and Republicans, chances are growing that automatic spending cuts, which aim to reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion over a decade, could take effect starting in March. All of this will likely have significant negative impact on the job scene.

The best hope we have of seeing an improving job scene in the next few years is for the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to permanently solve the U.S. Debt Crisis, including working towards balancing the budget. Our nation can not continue living on deficit spending … money it does not have. That is a recipe for eventual total economic failure. While it’s continuing practice of ‘kicking the can down the road’ might prevent further erosion of jobs short term, it will most assuredly will set our nation up for a much larger recession and loss of jobs in a few years.

View prior reports on Jobs: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/jobs/

Captain Rick: Many economists were shocked by the magnitude of this drop in economic growth. I was surprised, but not shocked. Those following my reports know I have been forecasting a coming recession for some time. I caution that this is only the first of three GDP reports for the 4th quarter of 2012.  It won’t be until the end of March until the third and final GDP figure for the fourth quarter of 2012 is released. The final figure could be slightly higher or lower. Regardless of the final figure, the economic trend is not favorable. How Congress handles the very serious looming U.S. debt crisis, especially the portion of the Fiscal Cliff that was ‘kicked like a can down the road’ will play a roll in future economic growth. If Congress gets tough and addresses the debt crisis head on, I suspect it will present a deeper, temporary plunge into negative growth territory. If Congress continues to ‘kick the can down the road’, I suspect we will see less of a dive in GDP early on…but will set the stage for a much deeper dive in a year or two…possibly as deep or deeper than the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008-2009.

I see several troubling economic factors that parallel the times leading up to the ‘Great Recession’. The world stock markets are within 2% of the all time highs reached just prior to the stock market crash of 2008. Like then, I see no justifiable reason for the recent market rise. It looks to me like a bunch of gamblers in Vegas betting it all. The market is again inflating into a balloon ripe for explosion. Real estate prices have been climbing at a fast pace, as is real estate speculation…similar to that witnessed prior to the bursting of the real estate bubble, prior to the Great Recession. I can not predict how much farther things can go before a repeat of 2008 occurs…but I feel that a down slide is coming at some point soon. Much will have to do with congress’s handling of the debt crisis. The best thing they can do is ‘bite the bullet’ and suffer the consequences of balancing the budget early on. While that will most likely allow our GDP figures to become even worse than they are now, action soon might stave off an economic catastrophe a few years from now. I wish I could offer a more wholesome outlook for the American economy, but the fact remains…America is facing the most serious financial crisis in its history, one which has the potential to reduce America to a third world nation if not handled properly and soon.

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