Posts Tagged ‘Gross National Product’

Captain Rick: Final U.S. GDP for Q4 2013 was a disappointing 2.4%, downgraded from the earlier estimate of 3.2%. Early estimates are notoriously optimistic. This GDP figure sounds a wake-up alarm that America is stuck in the GDP ‘Anemic Zone’ … a place between zero real growth and ‘Recession’. 

GDP (Gross National Product) is the broadest means of quantifying the health of an economy. GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders.

image

BLUE LINE: 3.0% GDP Growth is required to keep up with U.S. Population Growth. GDP above the blue line represents real growth that adds real jobs. GDP below the blue line indicates real economic decline that is loosing real jobs. GDP below the blue line, but above zero line (‘Recession’), is what Captain Rick calls the ‘Anemic Zone’.

RED LINE: 2.24% GDP Growth is the average of what the U.S. economy scored in the past 8 quarters (2 years). This demonstrates that the U.S. economy is stuck in the economic ‘Anemic Zone’…not mustering enough growth to keep up with population growth. 

What caused the recent GDP decline?

Weakness in the housing sector is a factor. Investment in residential real estate slowed for the first time in three years. I see that as good, as the previous pace was heading rapidly towards another real estate bubble.  Real estate values have peaked and have begun decline in some areas of the U.S., like Gilbert, Arizona that led the value resurgence a few months ago.  

Perhaps the decline in federal QE (debt) spending played the biggest role as a result of the $20 Billion reduction QE (debt) spending per month. The latest GDP decline demonstrates the power that debt spending can have on the economy. If the U.S. were to curtail the remaining $65 Billion in QE debt spending per month, the U.S. might slip into recession. The bottom line is that the U.S. QE debt spending helps the U.S. economy look like its only anemic…when it is actually in recession. This will play out as the Fed is forced to reduce QE debt spending to keep the U.S. from going over the new U.S. Debt Ceiling, recently raised to $17.2 Trillion by the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Fiscal Reality Check

U.S. GDP: $16.1 Trillion

U.S. National Debt: $17.4 Trillion (already exceeds new ceiling), ($55,000 per citizen, $151,000 per tax payer)

U.S. Debt held by foreign countries: $6 Trillion

U.S Federal Spending: $3.5 Trillion

U.S. Federal Revenue: $2.9 Trillion

U.S. Federal Deficit: $0.6 Trillion

Source: USDebtClock.org

What does this GDP data mean concerning the future of America?

America is stuck in a land of anemic growth…actually declining in real growth because its economy can not consistently rise above 3% growth … a level required to produce enough jobs and income to keep pace with population growth. In reality, this means that America is declining in economic strength. In the coming few years America faces an astronomical increase in expenditures due to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs like Medicaid and Obamacare. America’s relatively level revenue will not be able to cover the mushrooming expenditures. Congress will not be able to address this problem by simply ‘kicking the debt can down the road’ as it has in recent years. At some point soon, the fiscal mess that is brewing will explode as America plunges over the pending ‘real fiscal cliff’.  At the bottom lies America as a third world country.

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

Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

GDP

U.S. Debt Crisis

Economy

Entitlement Reform

Social Security

Medicare

Medicaid

ObamaCare

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Captain Rick: A shutdown of the U.S. Government will most likely begin on October 1, 2013, the beginning of the new fiscal year. There is currently no budget agreement to fund the U.S. Government for the coming year. The Democrat led Senate and the the Republican led House are in a stalemate that does not appear likely will be rectified by October 1. The real showdown will come on or before October 17, when the U.S. Government reaches the debt ceiling of $16.699 trillion and will begin defaulting on its financial obligations, an event that has never before occurred.

The last threat of shutdown occurred on March 27, 2013. It was averted by an agreement to allow Sequester spending cut’s (part of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ legislation that became effective on January 1, 2013) to gain some flexibility regarding where to make spending cuts, in lieu of the mandatory across the board cuts.

My goal is to help increase understanding of the extremely important events that are unfolding…

image

U.S. Government Shutdown … What will happen? Non essential elements of the government will begin shutting down. These are things like National Parks and Monuments and the federal employees and contractors that support them. The employees would be furloughed. Contractors would have their payments delayed. At no time in the past has a shutdown lasted for more than a month. In every case the contractors eventually got paid and the furloughed employees were awarded back pay, so in essence, they received a nice long paid vacation, compliments of the U.S. taxpayers. In every previous case of shutdown, it ended up costing tax payers more than if the government had remained open.

What does a shutdown accomplish? Nothing, except increased cost. It is however, a necessary reminder that our government needs spending to remain less than revenue. In reality the U.S. has been spending far more than it receives in revenue, especially in recent years.

U.S annual spending: $3.52 trillion

U.S. annual revenue: $2.69 trillion

U.S. annual deficit: $825 billion

Total U.S. National debt: $16.95 trillion

U.S. GDP: $15.91 trillion (U.S. Debt exceeds GDP…a wake up call to get the fiscal house in order…or prepare for economic destruction)

Who is to blame? First and foremost to blame is President Obama. He is our president, elected to lead our nation in a positive direction…yet he has demonstrated the most reckless spending in American history, especially with his Fed’s continuation of pumping $85 billion per month of ‘Quantitative Easing’ debt dollars into the American Economy (adding directly to the U.S. National Debt) in an effort to make an economically sick nation look just anemic. It is all ‘smoke and mirrors’ that is doing nothing more than increasing America’s debt at an astronomic expense and burden to future generations.  Second to blame is the entire U.S. Legislature, including the Senate and House, Republicans and Democrats. None of them impress me as having the intelligence or ability to agree on a plan to withdraw America from its insatiable addiction for debt spending far beyond its revenue. I believe most of them have their ‘pockets’ fed by ‘big money’.

Obama passes blame and creates fear in news conference: Today I listened to President Obama speak in a news conference casting fear upon Americans by placing blame for his reckless spending on the shoulders of the U.S. House:
“If Congress chooses not to pass a budget by Monday, the end of the fiscal year, they will shut down the government along with many vital services that the American people depend on,” The Senate “acted responsibly” by passing its bill, and “now it’s up to the Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same.”
He asked Republicans “to think about who you’re hurting” by letting the government shut down, and said “it would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.”
He also made clear that a government shutdown wouldn’t stop the Affordable Care Act from being implemented. “That’s not going to happen. More than 100 million Americans currently already have new benefits and protections under the law. On Tuesday, about 40 million more Americans will be able to finally buy quality affordable health care just like anybody else.”

Reality Check. What really happened: This was one of the most disgusting, fear-causing set of statements I have heard President Obama make recently. What really happened is that the House sent a bill to the Senate that included defunding Obamacare (a program with an enormous cost that America can not afford at this time of financial crisis). The Senate revised the bill to remove the Obamacare defunding and sent it back to the House. In opposition to Obama’s statement, I believe the Senate did not act responsibly. If the House does not pass the bill on Monday (which it should not), it will not be the House that causes the shutdown as Obama warns. It will be the result of the failure of the President and the entire U.S. Legislature combined. Obama said that a shutdown will stop many vital services. This is not true, unless the shutdown lasted for a long period of time…or Obama chooses to focus on certain entities for political gain. Obama’s scare tactics of asking Republicans to ‘think of who they are hurting’ by the government shutdown are absolutely despicable. President Obama should ask himself who he is hurting by spreading such fear and lies. This shutdown does throw a ‘wrench’ into Obamas ‘gears’ to make the economy look ok, when it is really sucking badly. Obama is fixated on Obamacare, a mark he hopes the world will remember him by. He will push it, even if it contributes to the financial destruction of America.  In reality, 40 million Americans are going to find out that ‘affordable health care’ is not really affordable and the majority of them will pay (or evade) the penalty to avoid it. The resultant unexpected, massive costs will lie firmly on the backs of American tax payers and add directly to the U.S. national debt.  I have this on my list of future blog reports. It sounds to me like Obama is running scared and is choosing to hide his fear by casting false fear on Americans. That scares me. Does it scare you?

View the comments (below) for ongoing updates of important happenings at the U.S. Capitol concerning this unfolding story.

I have done my very best to chronicle the events that contributed to this first U.S. government shutdown in nearly 18 years…as displayed in my comment updates below. This report could be among the best chronicles on the web. I am honored that Google and other search engines have picked up on this report.  The views for this report have exceeded those of all other ANJ reports by a factor of 10X+. The view stats from the past week far surpass any previous week. It tells me that there are lots of people that are tuning into this blog post to get the real facts…not the hype found on virtually all web news sites and especially TV news casts.

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

Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

U.S. Government Shutdown

Obamacare

U.S. Debt Crisis

Fed Financial Policy

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

Economy

Captain Rick: PIMCO’s Bill Gross says that ultra low interest rate policies and ongoing bond buying programs like ‘Quantitative Easing’ around the world aren’t working. Bill refers to it as a global financial system that is "beginning to resemble a leukemia patient with New Age chemotherapy, desperately attempting to cure an economy that requires structural as opposed monetary solutions." He is challenging the Federal Reserve and other central banks to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

image

Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of bond giant PIMCO. He is often called the world’s ‘bond king’.

I recognize Bill as one of the worlds most intelligent minds concerning everything related to bonds. Bonds help make our world grow. Bonds are the life blood of our cities, states and countries of our world. 

Bill writes a monthly ‘Investment Outlook’ news letter. His June report is entitled “Wounded Heart”, a nod to Bonnie Raitt’s 2002 tune. It is one of his finest. I will do my best to sum up his eloquent words of wisdom for the U.S. and other countries including Japan, England and Europe who are practicing ‘Quantitative Easing’ fiscal programs that are not working.

Excerpts from Bills “Wounded Heart” report:

“While the global central banks’ policies have stabilized economies, they haven’t succeeded in returning them to old normal growth rates”

"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts"

And to Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s claims that once economic growth has been restored to normal levels, financial markets can also return to normal interest rates and returns, Gross has a few stern words:
"Well it’s been five years Mr. Chairman and the real economy has not once over a 12-month period of time grown faster than 2.5%"
"Perhaps, in addition to a fiscally confused Washington, it’s your policies that may be now part of the problem rather than the solution."

To investors, Gross advises to reduce risk as the Fed continues to try to mend a wounded heart with blood that lacks the necessary oxygen. "Investors should look for a pacemaker to follow a less risky, lower returning, but more life sustaining path."

Read the entire Investment Outlook: “Wounded Heart”  by William H. Gross:  http://www.pimco.com/EN/Insights/Pages/Wounded-Heart.aspx

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

Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Fed Financial Policy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fed-financial-policy/

Investment 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/investment-101/

Stock and Bond Market: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/stock-bond-market/

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.

image

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: Center-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta was sworn in Sunday to head a broad coalition of ministers from his own party and members of Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right party. The big question is … can he correct Italy’s current course of economic destruction?

image

In a speech to parliament Monday, Letta stressed the need to stimulate growth and create jobs, but said Italy couldn’t borrow its way out of trouble. “After more than a decade without growth, we can’t wait any longer for a policy of recovery,” he said. “Without growth and without cohesion, Italy is lost.”

Letta’s appointment ends two months of political stalemate with hope of economic stability, but many doubts remain about the coalition’s durability and uncertainty over how it will achieve its economic goals.

The priorities for Letta’s government mirror those of 87-year old Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was persuaded to accept a second term after parliament failed to agree on an alternative. Napolitano established two expert committees to work on overhauling Italy’s convoluted electoral system and political institutions, and making structural reforms to restore competitiveness, boost growth and make a dent in the debt mountain.

Debt Crisis in Italy is severe

Government borrowing totals about two trillion euros, equal to around 127% of gross domestic product, a ratio surpassed in the eurozone only by Greece. The economy hasn’t grown for years, unemployment is near 12% and rising, and living standards for many are tumbling.

The eurozone’s third-biggest economy was brought to the brink of collapse in late 2011 when yields on its huge debt pile climbed to unsustainable levels around 7%. Tax increases and spending cuts by a technocrat government led by Mario Monti reassured investors. But they led to a backlash against austerity in February’s elections, boosting support for comedian Beppe Grillo’s protest movement and leaving no party able to form a government on its own.
Letta wants to adjust Italy’s unpopular austerity drive, and Berlusconi has campaigned for a tax on property to be reversed, but it is unclear how the new government would make up for the revenue shortfall as the economic situation continues to deteriorate.

Captain Rick wishes ‘Best of Luck’ to Enrico Letta, new Prime Minister of Italy

Enrico, I wish you luck in turning around the massive debt problem in Italy. Social greed for welfare is a sure invitation for economic destruction. Italy is one of the largest consumers of welfare spending in Europe. The party you represent loves welfare. I equate it to the Democratic Party in the U.S.

The U.S. debt has not yet reached the percentage of GDP as in Italy, but I see it as just a matter of time before it does. Americans will be watching what happens in Italy … perhaps as a ‘crystal ball’ vision of what awaits America.

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/

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/

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

Captain Rick: The U.S. Legislature has failed to balance America’s budget almost forever. If it compromised by using the economic common sense rule of 20% of GDP for both revenue and spending, its budget crisis would end and a much brighter future would await the children of our world.

image

Record Tax Revenue: I am glad to see we have hit a new record of $2.7T in revenues, just a tick above the previous record of $2.6T in 2007. As population grows, we better hope our tax revenue keeps going up every year. Things went far astray during the ‘Bush War and Tax Cut’ era, the Great Recession that followed and ‘Obamas Record Spending Spree’ to try to fix it, including a reckless 2 point payroll tax cut. Thankfully, it and some other irresponsible tax cuts vanished on Jan 1 as a result of the Fiscal Cliff and helped bring us closer to sanity. Unfortunately this new revenue record leaves America with a very anemic tax revenue of only 16.9% of GDP. The 40 year average is 18%. A healthy economy achieves revenue equal to 20% of GDP…so America is still far short of needed revenue…and part of the reason why America’s finances are in such terrible shape.

Record Spending: The other part of the reason America’s finances are in such terrible shape is because America’s spending is too high. America is currently spending $3.55T or 22.2% of GDP. That percentage is higher than almost every year since 1986. A healthy economy limits  spending equal to 20% of GDP…so America is still far over the limit for spending…the other part of the reason why America’s finances are in such terrible shape.

Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals debate: Republicans and conservatives argue that taxes are too high and do not agree to any further increases. They say the entire answer lies in cutting spending. Democrats and liberals argue that spending levels should be held. They say the entire answer lies in tax increases. Its easy for me to see why our legislature is in gridlock. Both sides are stubborn and illogical. Neither side possesses the the solution. The solution resides in compromise. 

Captain Rick’s proposal of compromise: I propose that the U.S. Legislature uses the economical common sense guideline of 20% of GDP as a target for revenue and spending to achieve a balanced budget. 20% has proven to be workable figure for successful governments in the past. The figure can be argued…19 v 21…but 20% is a good starting point. Diminishing America’s national debt is a story for another day. It would require the balance to shift to more revenue and less spending…perhaps 21% of GDP revenue and 19% of GDP spending. Real compromise needs to begin soon … in order to protect the future of our children.  

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

Info from previous reports:

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

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

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: Gross domestic product in China grew 7.7% over the previous year during the first quarter. That is great by U.S. standards, which are hovering near 0%, but a significant loss from the 10% annual GDP that China has averaged during the past three decades, which propelled it to become the the world’s second largest economy. Reports on industrial production and retail sales disappointed. Economists are worried about a rapid expansion in credit and a red-hot housing market.

image

Fitch ratings agency warned China of excessive debt levels and issued rare local currency downgrade
The ratings agency said it issued the rare downgrade because of three factors: Structural weaknesses in China’s economy, an expansion of easy credit and the rise of an opaque shadow banking system.
Credit in China has expanded quickly in the wake of the global financial crisis, with much of it issued to local governments and used to finance infrastructure projects.
Fitch believes local government debt levels are now so high that Beijing will, at some point, be forced to assume some of the burden.

In response to the global financial crisis in 2008, China moved to stimulate its economy by increasing the amount of available credit.
Banks and other lenders responded, with credit in China growing since 2009 at a quicker pace than gross domestic product. Only one country — Qatar — was issuing credit at a faster rate.
By the end of 2012, credit issued by Chinese banks to the private sector reached 136% of GDP, the third-highest level of any emerging market country rated by Fitch.
Much of the credit was issued to local governments, and used to finance infrastructure projects that helped China sustain rapid economic growth in the wake of the financial crisis.

Beijing has tried to get a handle on credit issuance in recent years, moving to cool the housing market and cut back on local government debt.
But when combined with low wages, Fitch said the persistent nature of the trends has created growing risks for China’s financial stability.

image

Real Estate Bubble heating up and ripe for explosion

The housing market is heating up, leading some analysts to worry about the development — and possible deflation — of a housing bubble.
China’s central government is already stepping up efforts to cool prices, and Beijing has directed local governments to institute control measures of their own.
Several cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have responded by announcing higher taxes and fresh restrictions on property purchases.
20% capitol gains tax has been added on home sales as well as higher interest rates and down payments for anyone buying a second home in cities where real estate prices are sharply on the rise.

image

China is the second largest holder of U.S. debt (Japan is the largest)
China held about $1.15 trillion in U.S. bonds through August, the most recent reading available from the Treasury Department.
China had been buying U.S. Treasuries as a way to keep its currency, the yuan, pegged to the U.S. dollar. That helped lower the value of the yuan and made China’s exports more competitive in markets such as the United States.

Captain Rick’s Words of Caution: Notice I said China ‘had been buying U.S. Treasuries.’ Latest indication is that that has stopped. This could have grave consequences on Americas gigantic thirst for deficit spending. Japan remains the only major purchaser of American debt and those days could be numbered as well due to economic conditions in Japan not being anything to ‘write home about’. Our world is skating on very thin ‘fiscal ice’. Countries of our world, including China, depend on America to be a leader of fiscal responsibility. America has not been setting a very good example with its legislative gridlock on solving its monumental thirst for deficit spending. The world can only hope that America will wake up from its deep sleep and do what is necessary, before its speeding train goes over the ultimate ‘fiscal cliff’ and takes the world with it.

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

Info from previous reports:

China: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/china/

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

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

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: The U.S. managed to crawl out of the GDP recession zone in its ‘final’ report for Q4 2012 to post a dismal 0.4% GDP, second worst since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The first estimate in January reported –0.1% GDP, in the recession zone. 

GDP (Gross National Product) is the broadest means of quantifying the health of an economy.

In my previous GDP report, I stated: “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”.

The U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation to “kick the debt can down the road” AGAIN as reported in my previous post. While these actions have no effect on GDP for Q4 2012, they will effect GDP for Q1 2013 and beyond.

image

The red line in the chart above indicates the 3% level that the U.S. GDP must maintain to keep up with population growth. GDP has been far short of that for many years. In spite of the positive hype we are hearing in the mainstream news media, America is traversing extremely dangerous economic waters. Hype does not fix problems… credible action does. Unfortunately the world is seeing ‘zero’ credible action out of the politicians who represent the citizens of the United States of America.

Prognosis for the future…where are we headed?

I see several troubling economic factors that parallel the times leading up to the ‘Great Recession’. The world stock markets have reached a new high, passing those reached just prior to the stock market crash of 2008. Like then, I see no justifiable reason for the market rise. Today’s market reminds me of a bunch of gamblers in Vegas looking for a place to throw all of their dollars to bet 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…or perhaps worse, but I feel that a down slide is coming soon. Much will have to do with congress’s handling of the debt crisis (very dismal at this point). It will be further complicated by the multi-trillion dollar cost of Obamacare (the worlds greatest socialized, welfare medical program). In addition, we must remember that multi millions of baby boomers are beginning to collect Social Security from a trust fund that has been totally robbed of funds to finance the U.S. Government and its politician’s thirst for deficit spending. It will all play out in a very ugly scene before the world’s eyes during the next few years.

I welcome your comments, likes and shares!

Info from previous reports:

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

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

GDP: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gdp/

Captain Rick: The March 27 deadline for the U.S. government shutdown has been averted by yet another stunt by U.S. lawmakers to kick the U.S ‘debt can’ down the road AGAIN until the end of the fiscal year in September … when it will all come back to haunt us AGAIN.

U.S lawmakers finally brought the 2013 budget fight to an end on March 21 by approving a bill that ended the threat of a U.S. government shutdown on March 27. It funds the government through the end of the current fiscal year in September. The measure now set to become law reduces the impact of the $85 billion in forced cuts — called sequestration — to only $59 billion.

It establishes stop-gap budgets for targeted departments and programs. It resets priorities and helps better manage the draconian formula as set forth by the sequestration spending cuts. Overall, the legislation locks in $984 billion in non-entitlement program spending — a tiny drop from the $1.043 trillion initially approved before the forced sequestration cuts took effect.

image

I believe I speak for most Americans and many people around the world when I say … we have had enough of the “U.S. Capital Circus”. Its time for America’s president and lawmakers to unite and figure out a real solution to get America off of the deficit spending binge and balance the budget, followed by a way to pay back America’s monumental national debt of $1.7 trillion, which now exceeds America’s GDP. This is an extremely serious world economic issue … the world’s largest! Nothing else comes close in magnitude. Time is running short. Without real, credible action soon, America will fall over the real ‘Fiscal Cliff’ … a point of ‘no return’. It will take much of the world along for the fall.

I welcome your comments, likes and shares!

Info from previous reports:

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.

image

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: 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.

image

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%.

image

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 term “Fiscal Cliff” is a newly coined term that represents the effect of a number of laws that become effective in January 2013 that will cause $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases, meant to reduce the U.S. deficit beginning in 2013. The deficit (the negative difference between what the government receives in revenue and what it spends) is expected to be reduced about 50% in 2013. That’s a good start, but lots more effort is needed to get America back on track to a balanced budget, so that America’s monumental debt is not just “kicked like a can down the road” for our younger generations to manage.
.
13145646-2560x1440+s2-f1-AWS-Fiscal Cliff+R-c
America is currently spending $1.1 trillion more each year than it receives in revenue. This continues to increase the U.S. national debt, that stands at a staggering $16.2 trillion. America’s debt is financed by other countries like China and Japan. Interest on the national debt is $259 billion per year … an alarming 16% of the U.S. GDP … growing at a reckless rate of speed. Each year the foreign debt holders own a larger hunk of America.
The “Fiscal Cliff” is a “baby step”, but an important one, towards curbing the growing fiscal catastrophe that will face America’s future generations.
.
America’s fiscal problems need to be addressed now, while the American dollar is still recognized by world investors as a strong currency. The value of the dollar will continue to degrade over the next few years if this fiscal crisis is not addressed appropriately. If not, at some point the American Dollar will no longer be recognized as a strong currency. When that day comes, America will have no more “cards left to pull out of the hat”. It will be too late to save America from economic destruction. I believe the “Fiscal Cliff” needs to happen as current law provides, without interference from legislators. America can handle the “Fiscal Cliff”. The economy might slow a bit, but that is far better than the ugly economic consequences that will assuredly result if this serious fiscal problem is not addressed now.
.
FISCAL CLIFF Course 101 EXTRA CREDIT: The economic math in support of the “Fiscal Cliff”
Many economists pick 20% of GDP to be a respectable point to balance America’s budget for revenue and spending. I agree!
.
Current U.S. annual fiscal situation:
Value of the economy (GDP): $15.5 Trillion
Revenue: $2.4 trillion (15.5% of GDP…needs to be raised 4.5% to 20% of GDP to balance the budget and be equal to expenses)
Expenses: $3.5 trillion (22.6% of GDP…needs to be lowered 2.6% to 20% ($403 billion) to balance to budget and be equal to revenue)
Deficit: $1.1 trillion (this is the amount added to the national debt each year)
National debt: $16.2 trillion ($52,000 per citizen / $142,000 per tax payer)
.
U.S. Revenue:
Income Tax: $1.129 trillion
Payroll Tax: $843 billion
Corporate Tax: $238 billion
Total revenue: $2.438 trillion (15.5% of GDP…needs to be raised 4.5% to 20% ($698 billion) to balance the budget and be equal to expenses)
Required revenue to reach 20% of GDP and balance budget: $3.1 trillion
.
U.S. Expense:
Medicare/Medicaid: $728 billion
Social Security: $759 billion
Defense: $653 billion
Interest on national debt: $259 billion
Federal Pensions: $212 billion
Other expenses: $889 billion
Total expenses: $3.5 trillion (22.6% of GDP…needs to be lowered 2.6% to 20% ($403 billion) to balance to budget and be equal to revenue)
Required expenses to reach 20% of GDP and balance budget: $3.1 trillion
.
Revisions required to reach a balanced budget (based on above figures):
$698 billion increase in revenue
add
$403 billion decrease in expenses
$1.1 trillion total increase in revenue and decrease in spending required to balance the budget
subtract
$600 billion – increase in revenue and decrease in spending produced by “Fiscal Cliff”
$500 billion – amount of correction needed beyond “Fiscal Cliff” to balance the budget
.
Bottom Line: The “Fiscal Cliff” is a “baby step” … but, a good one  towards fixing America’s monumental fiscal problem. The “Fiscal Cliff” is monumental legislation that all Americans need to embrace in an effort to save America from inevitable fiscal ruin. Any action by legislators to reduce tax increases or cuts established by the “Fiscal Cliff” legislation will be counter productive. Let’s all hope our legislators in Washington go home for the holidays with no agreement to “water down” the “Fiscal Cliff”. Hopefully, they will start working on “Fiscal Cliff 2” when they return in January 2013.
.

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.

image

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: 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.

image