Whew, I can’t believe I got all that in headline!
Anyone who has read this blog for any period of time knows I’m a pessimist on the economy, in short I don’t see any reason to be hopeful:
Retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, leaving 2009 with the biggest yearly drop on record and highlighting the formidable hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the deepest recession in seven decades.
In another disappointing economic report, the number of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as jobs remain scarce.
Still, many economists, puzzled by the retail sales decline that follows reports from retailers of brighter holidays, cautioned that the December figures don’t necessarily signal a big consumer pullback and could be a blip.
Right, retail sales fell 0.3 percent in December, overall sales for 2009 fell 6.2 the sharpest decline on government records going back to 1992.
On the jobs front, the Labor Department reports that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000, sharply higher than the 3,000 new claims forecast by economists.
Add to that a record number of foreclosures:
A record 2.8 million households were threatened with foreclosure last year, and that number is expected to rise this year as more unemployed and cash-strapped homeowners fall behind on their mortgages.
The number of households that received a foreclosure-related notice rose 21 percent from 2008, RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday. One in 45 homes were sent a filing, which includes default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions.
In December, more than 349,000 households, or one in 366 homes, were hit with a foreclosure-related notice. That represents a 14 percent spike from November and a 15 percent jump from December 2008.
Banks repossessed more than 92,000 homes, up 19 percent from November. That increase was likely due to lenders working to clear their books at the end of the year, RealtyTrac said.
And the looming dollar crisis:
The United States must soon raise taxes or cut government spending to curb its debt, and failure to act will risk a crippling dollar crisis as investor confidence ebbs, a panel of experts said on Wednesday.
“It has got to be done. It will be done some day. It may be done with enormous pain. Or it may be done more rationally,” said Rudolph Penner, a former head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office who co-chaired the 24-strong Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States.
President Barack Obama’s administration will present his budget for fiscal 2011 early next month amid intense pressure to live up to election campaign promises not to raise taxes on middle class Americans, while confronting a record deficit.
As a result, Obama is expected to focus on long-term fiscal discipline, while maintaining policy support for an economic recovery in the near-term as the country rebuilds after its worst recession since the Great Depression.
And you can understand why I’m pessimistic about the chances for a meaningful economic recovery anytime soon. I’m sure there’s reasons for optimism, but I can’t find them. Everything I seen is pointing towards 1970s style stagnation.