Sunday, January 30, 2011

Economic Recovery

In the fourth quarter, economic output reached a $13.38 trillion seasonally adjusted annual rate, measured in 2005 dollars, inching 0.14% above the final quarter of 2007, when the recession began.

In the summer of 2009, the recession's official end, output plunged 4.14% below pre-crisis levels to a $12.81 trillion seasonally adjusted annual rate.

It took 12 quarters to recoup the losses and, on a per-capita basis, the economy is still not as large as it was before the recession took hold. Such a prolonged recovery is unusual: It took eight quarters to bounce back from the deep recession of the early 1970s.


Real GDP Now Above Pre-Recession Level

"U.S. economic output finally regained the level reached before the recession, as growth sped up on stronger consumer spending and exports (see chart above).

Gross domestic product—a broad measure of all goods and services produced—grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter. That's up from the 2.6% pace notched the quarter before and confirms the view held by many economists and stock-market investors that the economy is gaining enough momentum to start bringing down unemployment in the months ahead.

The expansion in large part was fueled by a jump in consumer spending—a crucial change from earlier in the recovery, when growth relied heavily on businesses investing and building up inventories. Final sales—a measure that gives a feeling for underlying demand in the economy by subtracting the change in business inventories from GDP—notched its biggest increase since 1984, growing 7.1% in the fourth quarter. This reviving demand bodes well for 2011, because businesses could take it as a signal to stock their shelves and hire workers."


Friday, January 28, 2011

4th Quarter GDP: 3.2%

For all of 2010, the economy expanded 2.9 percent, up from a 2.6 percent contraction in 2009, and the best performance since 2005 when growth registered 3.2 percent.

Cartoon: Government Spending

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Federal Budget

Federal Deficit

The federal budget deficit will reach a record of nearly $1.5 trillion in 2011 due to the weak economy, higher spending and fresh tax cuts, congressional budget analysts said, in a stark warning that will drive the growing battle over government spending and taxation...
The CBO report offered a sobering look at both the short-term and long-term fiscal outlook. It projected the unemployment rate would fall from 9.4% now to 9.2% by the end of this year and then to 8.2% by the end of 2012. It projected the unemployment rate wouldn't fall to typical pre-recession levels—about 5.5%—until 2016.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No Self Service in New Jersey or Oregon

Ding! There goes the charming little reminder that your car is getting low on fuel, as most new cars come straight from the factory with an audible reminder that it's time to fill up. No big deal, right? Just takes a quick second to remember which side the filler is on, then you get out, unscrew the cap and insert the nozzle. Fill 'er up... couldn't be easier.

Unless you live in New Jersey or Oregon, notes The Wall Street Journal, where it's still illegal to pump your own gas. According to Bikram Gill, a businessman who bought up 26 gas stations in New Jersey, "Any idiot can do it." We know for a fact that there are idiots in all 50 states, and in 48 of them, those idiots are free to handle the somewhat volatile fuel themselves.

In 1951, though, the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided it was too dangerous to allow just anyone to pump gas, suggesting that the process of refueling is best left to the professionals.

Predictably, there have been attempts to change the law. In 1988, a judge issued a ruling that it was unconstitutional to disallow Americans the right to pump their own gas, but it was later overturned by a court of appeals. And again in 2006, governor John Corzine attempted to put self-service stations along the Turnpike, but the voting public said 'No Thanks.'And so it remains illegal to pump your own gas in Jersey. Of course, the next time it's raining or snowing or sleeting and you need to fill up, something tells us you'll understand...


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cartoon: Monetary System

The biggest holders of US debt are American individuals, institutions, and Social Security. We own more than 2 out of every 3 dollars of US debt — about over 67%.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Non Sequitur

S and P 500

source and source

Gold and Hyperinflation


by Egon von Greyerz

We now live in a world where governments print worthless pieces of paper to buy other worthless pieces of paper that combined with worthless derivatives, finance assets whose values are totally dependent on all these worthless debt instruments. Thus most of these assets are also worth-less...

Let us be very clear, this financial Shangri-La is now coming to an end. The financial system is broke, many western sovereign states are bankrupt and governments will continue to apply the only remedy they know which is issuing debt that will never ever be repaid with normal money.

So why does the world still believe that the financial system is sound?

  • Firstly, because this is what totally clueless governments are telling everyone and this is what investors want to hear.
  • Secondly, whether governments apply austerity like in parts of Europe or money printing as in the US, investors want to believe that any action by government is good, however inept.
  • Thirdly, market participants are in a state of false security due to shortsightedness and limited understanding of history.
  • Fourthly, as long as they can benefit from inflated and false asset values, the market participants will continue to manipulate markets.
  • Fifthly, there has been a very skilful campaign by the US to divert the attention from their bankrupt economy and banks `to small European countries like Greece, Ireland or Portugal. These nations, albeit in real trouble, have problems which are miniscule compared to the combined difficulties of the US Federal Government, states, cities and municipalities.
Bearing in mind that we are likely to see hyperinflation in the US, the UK and many European countries, the $6-10,000 target for gold is much too low. The dilemma is that it is absolutely impossible to predict how much money will be printed by governments. In the Weimar republic gold reached DM 100 trillion. But it is really irrelevant what level gold and other precious metals will reach in hyperinflationary money.

What is much more important to understand is that physical gold (and silver) will protect investors against losing virtually 100% of the purchasing power of their money. Whatever real capital appreciation gold will have in the next few years is of less importance. But what is vital, is that physical gold (stored outside the banking system) is the ultimate form of wealth protection both against a deflationary collapse and a hyperinflationary destruction of paper money.

read the entire essay

Happy New Year