Economics Update

Great Googly Moogly, the new GDP numbers are in for the first quarter, and they show that the economy contracted at a 6.1% annual rate, which follows a 6.3% rate for Q4 of 2008, the worst contraction for a 6 month period in 50 years.

There is a bright spot, however. As Calculated Risk notes, is that sectors that have been traditionally leading are doing better than those that typically lag a recession, which might point toward a bit of a moderation.

At least we are not Lithuania, whose economy contracted by 12% year over year.

It’s news like this that makes the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement minor economic news.

Basically, they said, “We think that it’s getting worse more slowly, and we can’t cut rates any more, but we will keep shoveling money out the door, and we are watching inflation, really we are.”

If that means anything, it’s beyond me, but it appears that the
Fed’s aggressive asset purchase program will not be further expanded, which implies that they think that we are at/near bottom.

In other banking news, remember yesterday’s stress test update, which fingered BoA and Citi?

Well, there are now reports that at least 6 of the 19 banking giants are under capitalized, hoocoodanode?

Meanwhile, in real estate, we have mortgage applications falling by 18%, and it appears that there is a tidal wave of troubled commercial mortgages on the horizon, with, “volume of commercial mortgages at risk of default has quintupled since the beginning of 2008.”

One of the interesting things here is that commercial real estate loans are generally short term, 5 years or so, so people who have to refinance into the teeth of the recession and credit crisis may be up a certain creek without a paddle, even though they would be otherwise solvent.

Meanwhile, oil rose on the slightly positive Fed statement and reports of a drop in gasoline inventories, while the dollar fell on on optimism about the world economy.

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