Monday, April 7, 2008

Recession -NOW -Update

Are we in a Recession-?

It's been a long time since we had one. The one in 1992 was a "hair-shirt" recession. We talked ourselves into it and we popped out again without the majority of the country feeling anything except worry. We haven't had one in a long time. We're losing the population that lived through the Big Depression.

The slight depression early in the Bush years scared the Republicans enough to push for tax breaks. This one is being fueled by:

1 Fears of a Democrat controlled Congress and White House. Together they have promised to not only let the Bush Tax Breaks expire (prompting a huge tax increase) but to add new taxes and regulations to businesses and The Rich. (Whoever they are-we're never told if we are one or not I don't know who to hate, feel pity or be depressed over.) The Democrat controlled govt is already talking about protectionism and abrogating the NAFTA trade agreements simply "because". They over look the historical affects of the Smoot-Hawley Act which is credited with destroying over 60% or the worlds trade and driving the worldwide Great Depression even deeper. They claim they want the US to use "soft force" to deal with drugs, narco-terrorism and terrorism. Yet they refuse to approve the Columbia Free Trade Agreement. This agreement will improve exports from the US. It will allow Columbian farmers to have a viable economic alternative to the cocaine and marijuana crops. What do the Democrats REALLY want-? The world and America waits for some clarity.

2) the Credit Freeze. Nobody knows what their collateralized securities are worth. They're forced to mark them to market, but the market keeps moving and when it drops the asset value drops. Which spins the cycle yet again. There was some fraud and some theft but not to the degree that companies are writing off their holdings. The knock-on effect is that all funding institutions are looking for belt-and-suspender guarantee on any loans. If the Freeze continues then only the credit card companies with usurous rates will be providing liquidity to the economy.

3) Sinking Dollar is harming our exports. We need an active Fed to start pulling dollars off the market. They can do this by buying in dollars with either foreign currency or swapping some of the gold we hold. At around $1,000/per ounce the US needs to sell some gold, platinum and palladium. (no wonder the meth addicts are stealing catalytic converters from the driveways at night). Gold, Silver,oil are commodity prices all reflect the surplus of US Dollars floating about the world. We cannot raise interest rates in the middle of this credit freeze. Too many contracts are tied to the Fed Rate.

Here are a couple of tidbits from the daily news feed that you may have missed;

The leader of the NBER
personally thinks we are sliding into a recession. The NBER, (National Bureau of Economic Research,) a non-profit research organization, typically declares start and end dates for U.S. recessions. The group has not officially declared the U.S. is in a recession.

Transportation is a leading indicator of the economy.
BNSF Idles Freight Cars Due to Downturn
Freight railroad BNSF Railway Co. is parking miles of rail cars in some parts of the country because there is not enough freight to keep them moving, the Associated Press reported Monday.

ISM Contraction May Indicate Trucking Upturn, Analyst Says
Last week’s Institute of Supply Management report that showed continued contraction may actually be good for the trucking industry’s outlook, according to an industry analyst, the Associated Press reported.

I read the two as saying long term freight is gonna slow down. Short and intermediate freight demands will draw down inventories until demand returns. Manufacturing will slow and if demand does not rise, stop. Then we are in deep trouble. Loans must be paid, insurance must be paid, rents, leases and mortgages must be paid, even if there is no manufacturing or sales of goods and services.

Things are not that bad. They probably will never get that bad. Our fears will make them worse. Our politicians may create a problem where one could have been avoided. we don't have to have a recession or depression. The market is correcting itself. The fire will be over before the fire brigades can react-but they may pass laws that make it harder to avoid or correct in the future.

In seven months we will know much more than we do today. Unfortunately, the country cannot hold its reath for that long. Plans will be made, approvals granted or denied, commitments made based upon the best estimates of what the economy will be doing in 2009 and 2010.

What does it all mean-?

How do you read the headlines-?

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