Saturday, July 31, 2010

Outlook Dims on (Obama) the Economy

At NYT (FWIW), "With Recovery Slowing, the Jobs Outlook Dims":

There is no more disputing it: the economic recovery in the United States has indeed slowed.

The nation’s economy has been growing for a year, with few new jobs to show for it. Now, with the government reporting a growth rate of just 2.4 percent in the second quarter and federal stimulus measures fading, the jobs outlook appears even more discouraging.

“Given how weak the labor market is, how long we’ve been without real growth, the rest of this year is probably still going to feel like a recession,” said Prajakta Bhide, a research analyst for the United States economy at Roubini Global Economics. “It’s still positive growth — rather than contraction — but it’s going to be very, very protracted.”

A Commerce Department report on Friday showed that economic growth slipped sharply in the latest quarter from a much brisker pace earlier, an annual rate of 5 percent at the end of 2009 and 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Consumer spending, however, was weaker than initially indicated earlier in the recovery.

Many economists are forecasting a further slowdown in the second half of the year, perhaps to an annual rate as low as 1.5 percent. That is largely because businesses have refilled the stockroom shelves that were whittled down during the financial crisis, and there will not be much need for additional orders.

Additionally, the fiscal stimulus measures that have propped up growth are expiring. Proposals for individual programs like another expansion of unemployment benefits have been beaten back each time they have come up in Congress.

“We need 2.5 percent growth just to keep the unemployment rate where it is,” said Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. “If you want to get it down quickly, you need substantially stronger growth than that. That’s what I’ve been saying for the last several quarters, and that’s why I’ve been hoping that we’ll please pass the jobs measures just sitting on the floor of Congress.”

The approaching midterm elections, however, may harden the political standoff after Congress returns from its August recess. As a result, pressure will probably increase on the Federal Reserve to use its available tools to prevent a double-dip recession. Recent reports from Fed policy makers suggest the central bank has become increasingly worried about where the economy is headed.

American businesses, if not American households, seem to be hanging on.
Image Credit: Blogmocracy.


Norm said...

Next two quarters may be very rough.
Don't know how much more profits corporations can squeeze out of increasing productivity...which usually means having less employees work harder. Consumers are more interested in paying off past credit debts than buying and increasing their debt. The Fed is out of ammo.
State and local governments are almost all in the red. Worst of all is that we cannot believe any statistic the Federal government publishes. The amount that many of these economic statistics get revised later on shows an intent to mislead when originally published.