Posts Tagged ‘Economic Forecast’

Captain Rick: The S&P Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major markets posted a 9.3% rise over the last 12 months. It was the biggest 12-month gain in the index since May 2006, which was just one month after the index showed record-high home prices.

Even with the strong improvement in prices over the last 12 months, the index is still down 28% from the 2006 peak. Perhaps there is more price gain to be made, but conditions for another housing bubble appear to be forming rapidly.

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U.S. housing prices increasing at near record pace

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Phoenix Arizona showed biggest increase in home prices

The Case-Shiller index showed the biggest increases came in Phoenix, a market hit hard by the bursting of the housing bubble, where prices were 23% higher than a year earlier.
Prices were up more than 10% in half of the markets — San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, San Diego and Tampa all posted double-digit percentage gains, and Denver just missed that mark. New York posted the smallest gain, with only a 1.9% rise in prices.

Another housing bubble being fueled by speculation

The housing recovery has been driven by a number of factors, including near record-low mortgage rates, a drop in foreclosures and reduced unemployment, all of which have helped lift both new-home sales as well as sales of previously owned homes. But, most importantly, it has been driven by investors flooding into some markets to buy homes in order to rent them out, outbidding the potential homeowners who want to live in a home. There are a growing number of inexperienced ‘armchair investors’ now buying into the boom … a sign that demand may be peaking,

Where will this end?

Home values are rising at an unsustainable pace. The end of this round of speculation could end up being not much prettier than the last round …possibly worse, in view of the fact that the U.S. economy is crawling along on extremely shaky ground in comparison to its relatively robust health prior to the Great Recession.

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Info from previous reports:

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

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

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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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Captain Rick: Gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the nation’s economic health, grew at an annual rate of 3.1% from July to September (Q3). That’s more than double the sluggish 1.3% rate in the second quarter, however it only measures even with the break-even line. 3% economic growth, represented by the red line in the chart below, is necessary to provide enough jobs and wages to keep pace with U.S. population growth. America has fallen short of the line in all but three quarters during the past four years. A GDP growth rate of 5% for 4 quarters is required to reduce the unemployment rate by 1%.

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Consumer spending, which typically accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, was the single largest driver of economic growth between July and September. U.S. households bought more motor vehicles and health care services, leading consumer spending to rise at a 1.6% annual rate in the quarter.

Government defense spending was another large driver, rising 12.9% in the third quarter. And home sales picked up, also contributing to economic growth.

Meanwhile, businesses built up their stockpile of goods and were hesitant to make new investments. Business spending contracted at a 1.8% annual rate in the quarter, dragging on overall economic growth. The largest cuts in business spending were on equipment and software.

Economists point to uncertainty about 2013 taxes and government spending cuts as the culprit that’s weighing on business investment decisions. The uncertainty generated by fiscal ineptitude has basically shut down investment spending. 

Economic Outlook: Overall, economic recovery remains sluggish. On average, the U.S. economy has grown about 2% a year for the last three years. Essentially this means the economy has actually going backwards at a rate of about 1%. Major portions of the fiscal cliff remain unresolved. The fiscal cliff and the pending debt ceiling will have to be addressed by about March 1 to prevent government default. The manner in which they are addressed will play a role in whether America dips into another recession next year.

Captain Rick: The December Jobs Report marked the tenth month in a row of lackluster job creation. Only 155,000 jobs added, just above the red break-even line of enough jobs to keep pace with population growth. That leaves 4.8 million discouraged workers … hopelessly unemployed.

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1.84 million jobs were created during 2012. That sounds huge, but it only broke even with the 1.8 million needed to keep pace with population growth.

U.S. Unemployment rate is inept and meaningless … the real unemployment rate is about 15%

I no longer report on the U.S. Labor Department unemployment percentage, which basically counts only those who are registered and receiving unemployment compensation. It does not include the other half of the workers that dropped off of the government’s ‘radar screen’ … the 4.8 million who have exhausted their unemployment compensation and remain discouraged and hopelessly unemployed. The Labor Department should abandon the ‘unemployment rate’ and replace it with a figure that is closer to reality. The actual unemployment rate, sometimes called the ‘underemployment rate’, stands at about 15%, among the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The growing number of hopelessly unemployed is worrisome

Studies widely show the longer a person is unemployed, the weaker his or her chances are of getting a job. At some point, long-term unemployment can lead workers to become permanently detached from the labor force. That’s not good for the economy.

How long will it take to reduce unemployment to pre recession levels?

The Hamilton Project, an economic research arm of the Brookings Institution, publishes a “jobs gap” calculator that estimates just how long it will take to get back to pre recession levels, assuming the only major job market dropouts are Baby Boomers who are retiring. At the current rate of hiring, the Hamilton Project estimates it would take until 2025 to get back to a pre-recession job market. I must caution … that report does not consider the monumental fiscal challenge America faces with the upcoming Fiscal Cliff Sequester and Debt Ceiling issue. If President Obama and the U.S. Legislature continue to ‘kick the fiscal can down the road’, it could be far beyond 2025 before America recovers to pre recession unemployment levels, possibly never.

Caution for U.S. State Governors and City Managers

If you think America is on the road to recovery … THINK AGAIN !!! America is on a very serious fiscal downhill slide …headed for the ultimate ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Continue to spend money like there is ‘no tomorrow’ or prepare for coming reality by shoring up fiscal defenses.

Get Educated about the serious fiscal problems facing America … and the world

A great source: Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101 … The course starts at the very bottom.

Captain Rick: Japan, the world’s third largest economy, saw its economic growth sharply contract 3.5% in the third quarter of 2012. If its GDP (Gross National Product) growth rate remains in negative territory during the fourth quarter, Japan will officially fall into recession. Some economists have warned that looks likely. Some believe Japan is in recession already. Many fear that in light of China’s economic contraction, this is wake up call that the entire region might be headed for recession. I will help clear it up in my closing thoughts below.

Japan’s economy, especially exports, has been battered by the 2011 disasters caused by the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent meltdown of several nuclear reactors. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, but its diplomatic spat with China over disputed islands has made Chinese consumers reluctant to buy Japan-made products, especially automobiles.

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Last year nearly 20% of Japanese exports were sold to China, compared to 15.3% to the U.S.

Captain Rick’s closing thoughts on Asia, Europe and the USA:

Japan has been busy gobbling up U.S. debt over the past year. Its current holdings of $1.12 Trillion might soon pass the current top holder of U.S. debt … China at $1.15 Trillion. I find this very interesting and hope to focus on it in an upcoming report as America nears the “Fiscal Cliff”.

To help clear up the controversy of whether or not Southeast Asia is headed for recession, we should consider the problems that our friends in Europe face. Several countries in Europe are already in recession and more on the brink. Europe is facing a very serious financial challenge.

The most serious of all world financial problems lies in the United States of America. Its called the “Fiscal Cliff”. If this financial “nightmare” is not addressed head on with real and meaningful cuts in spending, coupled with increases in taxes, I assure that the negative financial echo effect will have the potential to thrust all countries of our world into recession. Watch for more of my reports on this matter of major global importance.

Captain Rick: Hiring ticked up to 171,000 new jobs in October … along with the unemployment rate, up .1% to 7.9%. The biggest job sector gainers were business services at 51,000 positions. Health care added 31,000, construction 17,000. Caution…many of the jobs added were low-paying service jobs.

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Captain Rick’s REAL Mathematical Jobs Analysis:

At least 150,000 jobs need to be created each month (1,800,000 per year) to keep pace with the growing population, as represented by my red line in the chart above.

In the past 12 months, beginning November 2011, America has added 1,950,000 new jobs. Subtracting the needed addition of 1,800,000 to keep pace with population growth, America added just 125,000 REAL jobs in the last year. That represents a move in the positive direction, but is far short of what is needed to regain the nearly 9 million jobs lost during the Great U.S. Recession in 2008-2009. At the pace American jobs have been restored during the past year, America will not experience a return to pre-recession job conditions for decades, if ever. Many economists share my feeling that what we are seeing now is the new job norm. The great job conditions of the mid 2000s will not be returning … possibly ever.

The U.S. Fiscal Cliff: This is the most important fiscal challenge facing America … perhaps the most monumental in U.S. history. How our legislators manage this crisis will determine America’s Jobs outlook and fiscal status for years to come. If not handled properly, our legislators are in position to reduce America to a third world country during the coming years. This is very serious ‘stuff’. I will do my best to keep you informed. Read my report on the Fiscal Cliff: https://atridim.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/fiscal-cliff-what-the-heck-is-it-how-will-it-affect-us/

Captain Rick: The U.S. economy grew a bit faster in the third quarter than the sluggish 1.3% of the second quarter, according to the first of three estimates for the third quarter. First estimates are notoriously optimistic, especially when they come before a presidential election. The first estimate for the second quarter was 1.5%, raised to 1.7% on the second estimate and then sank to the ‘final’ 1.3% figure. We will have to wait until December for the more realistic third estimate.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the broadest measure of the nation’s economic health. 3% economic growth, represented by the red line in the chart below, is necessary to provide enough new jobs to keep pace with U.S. population growth. America has fallen short in all but two quarters of the past four years. This means that the percentage of eligible workers who are working continues to drop almost every month. Real unemployment is continuing to increase, in spite of the bogus and meaningless unemployment percentages the U.S. government publishes each month that show a slow decline. America’s unemployment rate is currently published to be 7.8%, but the real number is actually about twice that…and rising, not falling.

I do not see anything on the horizon that is going to raise America continuously up above that red line, where we need to be to enjoy a healthy and growing economy … at least for the next several years, perhaps 2017 or beyond. Even the Fed, the IMF and other global financial authorities forecast similar sluggish growth through 2015. Europe appears to in recession or close to it. U.S. growth of 1.3% in the second quarter is knocking on recessions door. China’s economy is slowing quickly as a result of economic sluggishness in the West. This paints an anemic image of America’s economic health, with a global ripple effect. If the U.S. legislature attacks the “Fiscal Cliff” with vengeance when they return to work in January, we might see a boost in GDP in coming quarters. I am referring to major spending cuts and yes…tax increases. Anything short of that means “kicking the can down the road”, as has been done for many years, and will give us continued economic stagnation and possible recession.

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