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“Normal,” It’s Not What You Think!

Most readers remember the pre-recession days of 4% GDP growth, interest rates at levels where savers had return choices worth pursuing (e.g., the 10 year T-Note at 4%), and workers could count on annual real wage growth.  Today, many refer to this as “normal,” and there is a desire, if not a movement, to return the economy back to such a state. You can see this in the political arena.  …Read More

At Recession’s Onset, There is No Bell, Bugle, or National Anthem

From my reading of the business media, there are few business economists who believe, like I do, that the probability of a recession in the next 12 months is greater than 50%.  A recession is generally viewed as two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth. Looking forward, a recession isn’t inevitable, as there have been ‘soft landings’ in the post-World War II era.  Nevertheless, from my lens, there doesn’t …Read More

The Risk of Recession is Rising; So is Market Risk

Recession: This is the hardest world for any business economist to pen, especially when the equity market is on a tear.  Nevertheless, that is the reality of a slow growth, deflationary world where not much negative must happen to push the 1% growth economy into negative territory.  Post-election, markets initially rose on the hopes of economic stimulus from the Trump administration.  Then, they flattened as prospects for rapid policy changes …Read More

In the Slow Growth World: Is “Full” Employment No Longer a National Priority?

At the end of January, we learned that the preliminary GDP growth estimate for Q4/16 was 1.9% and that labor costs and wages rose less than expected (despite the fact that the minimum wage rose in 19 states). Given the “animal spirits” so evident in the post-election markets, such data may be a shock to many.  But, if you are a reader of my columns, it shouldn’t have been a …Read More

Is Optimism a Key Ingredient in Economic Growth?

Most of the sentiment measuring surveys posted dramatically higher results after the election on optimism over what a Trump Administration might do for the economy. But, there is a big difference between hope and reality. Beginning in mid-December, the U.S. equity markets shifted into neutral, and have slowly drifted lower, perhaps waiting for the political changeover. The Fed is now in tightening mode. In my experience, the Fed tightens and …Read More

Does 2.3 percent economic growth justify Dow 20,000?

A survey of 53 economists by Blue Chip Economic Indicators forecast 2.3 percent economic growth for 2017, up from an estimated 1.6 percent in 2016. While better, 2.3 percent is still low by post-World War II standards. Consensus found that inflation would tick up to 2.4 percent, industrial production would begin to grow again (+1.6 percent) after stagnating in 2016, business investment (+2.7 percent) would finally be positive (after several …Read More