Economics Update

Well, we have a big bit of information to lead with today, it turns out that the revised GDP numbers for the 4th quarter of 2007 show a contraction of 0.2% in the economy, which means that as numbers come in, that might very well be the start of the economy, particularly given the fact that the inflation numbers used to generate “real” GDP growth are bogus.

According to the most recent figures, the US economy grew in the 2nd quarter of 2008, but it grew less than forecast, 1.9% as versus 2.3%, but given what happens in revisions, I expect the number to get worse over time.

Employment is grim too, with weekly jobless claims up 44,000 to 448,000, though part of this is the effect of people going back on unemployment because of the 13 week extension.

While the weekly number is noisy, the trend has been toward increasing unemployment, and I agree with Calculated Risk, “Labor related gauges are at best coincident indicators, and this indicator suggests the economy is in recession.”

That’s not to say that there is no data pointing in the other direction, as the Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index Increased to 50.8, and any number above 50 points toward expansion.

That being said, the currency market saw the clouds, not the silver lining, with the dollar falling, though the fact that Euro zone inflation hit an all time high of 4.1%, which points toward rate increases by the ECB, could be a factor in there too.

In real estate, mortgage rates fell this week, which is probably an artifact of the reduced inflation fears from moderating oil prices.

The bit I found interesting though is that Freddie Mac is doubling the payments it makes to loan servicers for foreclosure prevention activities, which strikes me as a sort of a “hail Mary” play to keep more of their mortgage backed paper from going bad.

And our old friend, “The trouble with the monoliner insurers,” is back, with Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. (FGIC) being cut to junk bond status by Fitch.

In energy, both oil and gasoline are down.

Finally, a reason, as if you needed one, not to watch the Fox Business Chennel:

This just buggers the mind.

Leave a Reply