For most of this year, I’ve had a sense that the American middle class is increasingly growing, and that wages/incomes are increasing more than the Labor Department reports. I have been saving articles upon articles on this subject and was planning to extract the highlights and summarize them for you in the next week or two in these pages.
The Fed remains committed to raising short-term interest rates at least one more time this year, most likely at the September policy meeting as I will discuss below. The Fed also wants to start reducing its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year, but doing so in the past has almost always led to a recession.
On July 12, credit card giant VISA announced that it will soon offer selected retailers $10,000 to stop accepting cash. No one seemed to pay much attention. The announcement received relatively little coverage in the press. Should it have? Yes!
Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans age 70 to 74 were still in the workforce as of the end of June, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department on July 7. Some are working because they are healthy and enjoy their work. Most, however, are still working because they haven’t saved nearly enough for retirement.
Both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget announced last week that federal spending will top $4 trillion for the first time ever in fiscal 2017, which began on October 1, 2016 and ends on September 30.
The US Department of Labor told us in June that there were apprx. 6.0 million open (unfilled) jobs in America, a record high. The Labor Department also told us that there are apprx. 6.8 million unemployed Americans who are actively looking for work.
As the father of two Millennials (ages 27 and 25), I pay a great deal of attention to articles and studies on this largest generation of 75.4 million Americans. Given the sheer size of this generation and its vast effect on the economy for decades to come, we should all be paying attention to trends within this massive group.
Most investors understand the implications of the Fed raising (or lowering) interest rates. After lowering short-term interest rates to near zero in late 2008, and keeping them there for eight years, the Fed is now committed to “normalizing” short-term rates by raising the key Fed Funds rate multiple times over the next couple of years.
The Fed policy committee will almost certainly raise the key Fed Funds rate by another 0.25% tomorrow. Minutes from the early May Fed meeting indicate that the Fed sees the 1Q economic weakness as temporary, and the odds for a rate hike tomorrow are above 90%.
Given all the unusual factors attached to the current need to increase the debt ceiling, and the very unhealthy political climate, I could see a lot of turbulence in the markets just ahead. In a worst-case scenario, a debt ceiling crisis could even result in a new recession.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported last week that US household debt reached a new all-time high in the 1Q of this year. The new report also included some troubling internal metrics, not only on the overall household debt levels but also with regard to the level of delinquencies.
For reasons that are not yet clear to me, a growing number of economists and forecasters are predicting a big jump in the economy in the current April-June quarter.
The US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan alone have over $13 trillion in quantitative easing assets on their balance sheets. The Fed recently hinted that it would like to start reducing its QE assets this year if possible.
Income Tax Day came and went last week without a great deal of fanfare. Most Americans who owed income tax to the government for 2016 either filed their tax returns and paid their bill to Uncle Sam last week, or filed for an extension and paid their estimated tax, as many do each year. Nothing new there.
Big Box retailers and many other popular chain stores – including Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, Payless, Sports Authority, American Eagle, Radio Shack and many others – are closing their stores at a record pace so far this year.
Over the next couple of weeks, the mainstream media is likely to deluge us with warnings that the government could shut down at the end of this month. According to the Treasury Department, that’s just not true.
One key measure of US economic productivity actually declined in 2016 for the first time since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. The amount of goods and services produced, versus the total inputs of labor and capital to produce them, declined slightly last year for the first time in seven years.
The mainstream media is intently focused on the fate of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch is imminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and, if confirmed, he would fill the seat of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
The mainstream media loves to talk about the so-called “income gap” – the fact that incomes have been rising faster for the rich than the poor in America for decades. Yet new independent reports find that this trend has reversed in recent years.
Today, we’ll take a look at some very interesting data released by the World Bank last month, which shows that the United States still dominates the global economy by a wide margin. The US produces almost one-fourth of all global GDP, and has been at that level or higher for over two generations. This is remarkable.
President Trump promises that his economic plan, if enacted, will result in 3-4% annual GDP growth. Yet I get the feeling most Americans don’t understand Trump’s economic plan. Maybe that’s because the mainstream media has criticized it at every turn, even though similar plans have jump-started the economy in the past – think Ronald Reagan.
We touch on several bases today. We begin with the Heritage Foundation’s annual Economic Freedom Index, which plunged during the eight years of the Obama presidency. From there, we look at some recent economic data which is quite encouraging overall.
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that the US unemployment rate will continue to fall through 2018. The same study predicts that growth in hourly wages will increase significantly this year and next. I’ll give you the details on this uplifting report as we go along today.
Over the last eight years, with US interest rates at rock bottom thanks to the Fed, the rest of the world has borrowed a huge amount of dollars – about $4 trillion according to the Bank for International Settlements. During that same time, the US dollar has soared against a basket of foreign currencies.
China is selling US Treasuries at a record pace to support its currency, the Chinese yuan (also known as the renminbi), and to stem the flow of money leaving the country.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs have had a rough time of it for these past eight years. New startups and entrepreneurial activity have pretty much been stagnant, weighed down by heavy regulation, high taxes and an economy that’s just been stumbling along.
When the Commerce Department reported on December 22 that 3Q Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3.5%, many of us in the forecasting business wondered if that figure might be too optimistic. We also wondered whether the economy could sustain a 3+% growth rate in the 4Q.
We all know that there is a savings crisis in America. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), the median savings balance of near-retirement households is only around $12,000, while the median saving balance for all working-age households is only around $3,000.
1. 3Q Gross Domestic Product Rises More Than Expected 2. Fed Seems to Admit That ZIRP Didn’t Work as Expected 3. President Trump Willing to Increase Domestic Spending 4. Time for the Fed to “Normalize” Monetary Policy 5. “Handing Down Your Legacy” Still Available For Free
President Obama is spending his last days in office trying to shore-up his “legacy.” He emphasizes that he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression and most analysts would agree that is true for the most part.
To coin an old phrase, the country has “gone ape” in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise election as the 45th President of the United States. The stock markets have skyrocketed to new record highs day after day. Consumer confidence has soared to the highest level since 2008.
President-elect Donald Trump promises that one of his very first actions when in office will be to withdraw the United States from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was finalized earlier this year but must still be ratified by all of the participating nations.
Bond investors have had a rough ride in November. The Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index plunged by 5% during the last two weeks just before and after the election...
Before I get into today’s topics, I think I speak for most Americans when I say that we are relieved that this election will finally be over late tonight or early tomorrow. This has been the ugliest and most embarrassing election in most of our lifetimes.
Forecasters who were predicting a surge in the economy in the second half of this year have revised those estimates much lower in recent weeks. It now looks like the economy may not achieve even 2% growth this year.
A few months ago, there was broad optimism that the US economy would shift into a higher gear in the second half of this year.