Unemployment has reached 10.2 percent, 190,000 jobs were lost in October, and 79 percent of Americans say the economic downturn has forced them to get by with less. Eighty-seven percent are worried about the future of the nation. We have at least 16 million unemployed workers. And fewer Americans approve of the job done by Congress than believe in UFOs.
A respected stock market newsletter reported on November 4, 2009 that the market was poised to explode upward and continue for years to come. They stated that the worst pullback would be approximately 10 percent. (And right they were!)
In order to cover all bases, they also advised that leading Elliott Wave chartists expect a market collapse well below the March 2009 and November 2008 lows. However, the stock market newsletter said there was little chance of such an outcome.
Yet, on the same day, famed economist Robert Samuelson wrote a fascinating column in the Washington Post. He said: “The Congressional Budget Office reckons the Obama administration’s planned budgets would increase the debt-to-GDP ratio from 41 percent in 2008 to 82 percent in 2019. Higher interest rates would aggravate the debt burden. Anticipating higher rates, the CBO estimates annual interest payments on the federal debt at $799 billion in 2019, up from $170 billion in 2009. Even the size of exposed debt is unclear; adding Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s debts (effectively guaranteed by the government) to Treasury debt would raise the total sharply.”
Let’s look at a few more compelling numbers. The US Government spent $250 billion to save one million jobs. However, we already know that 20,000 of those jobs didn’t exist, while a sizable number of the so-called jobs saved were actually based on pay raise statistics. Government officials have since stated with straight faces that giving someone a raise constitutes a job saving measure. American tax payers generous people. We gave $400,000 to Qaddafi’s son, $65 million in prescriptions to the deceased, $300,000 to track rabbit droppings and $26,000 per car in cash for clunkers.
Cash for clunker appliances is on the way – meaning $50 to $200 for people who can afford to purchase a brand new energy-efficient appliance. Utility companies might also offer a $25 to $50 rebate for an old refrigerator or freezer which is working quite well. Of course, they’ll recycle your old refrigerator, reselling the spare parts or even the entire item at a fat profit.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s GDP. If you think the consumer is down and out, you’re both wrong and right.
Americans lost 40 percent of their wealth in the past two years. Over $4 trillion in credit lines will vanish by the end of 2009. The real unemployment rate (unemployed, discouraged and part-time workers wanting full-time work) is roughly 20 percent.
Yet, Nordstrom and high-end retailers report that sales are up compared to the last quarter. In other words, those who had, may now have even more – thanks to your generosity. We know that the stimulus plan was largely intended to bolster the US stock market – and we also know that the small investor was largely wiped out in the last market crash. Over thirty percent of American consumers have stopped spending except on pure necessities.
The average consumer has little to spend, but sales are going up. Amazing. Now that’s a true miracle that could only happen in America. So who exactly is benefiting from the stock market run-up of 2009? And what further bad news are the cheerleaders hiding?
Over 80 percent of voters in the New Jersey and Virginia elections expect the economy to get worse. Stock market analyst Michael Shulman wrote on September 16, 2009: “The banks still have trillions of dollars in toxic assets, increasing credit losses, and are facing new accounting and regulatory rules that are pressuring them to raise capital and dilute shareholders. And the market is not likely to react well to this news.”
The retain investor is usually the last in at the top…and the last out and the bottom falls out. If the market crashes again, the good news is small middle class investors will not be as deeply affected, since they were already wiped out in the last go-round. Large institutional investors and brokerage houses will make out like bandits, because they’ve already hedged their bets with puts. The government will probably use the crisis to call for yet another stimulus plan and to hire more high-paid czars with your money. The question is: will they have any crumbs left for the middle class?