The Real Economy Trumps Republican ‘Dark Ages’

coins and flagMy Comments: If I’m guilty of a ‘liberal media bias”, so be it. As an economist and financial professional for the past 40 years, I think I know how to read the tea leaves of global economic reality. They say our economy is relatively solid. Unemployment is low and growing. Corporate earnings are OK, if not spectacular. The stock market is overvalued, but that has little to do with the economy. The major existential threat to our future economic well being is the income inequality that is now pervasive in our society. That has to be remedied, and remedied soon. But if you think it will happen in a Trump administration, I’ve got some lovely home sites I can sell you just east of Daytona Beach.

07/25/201 by Harlan Green

Marketwatch’s Jeff Bartash is just one of our economic journalists busting the Donald’s ‘Disstopian’ views (Maureen Dowd’s term, not mine). Our economy is doing incredibly well for most people, including the bottom of the economic ladder—whose incomes are being helped by the rise of minimum wages in many cities and states, and maybe nationally if Hillary takes the White House.

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 1,000 to 253,000, matching the second lowest level of a seven-year-old economic expansion that shows no signs of flagging, says Bartash. And get this. Claims have been below the key 300,000 benchmark for 72 weeks — the longest such stream since 1973 — and show no sign of rising. The weekly report has a track record of being one of the best indicators at predicting several months in advance if the economy is headed toward expansion or recession, says Bartash.

Barron’s free market economist Gene Epstein doesn’t see any economic trouble on the near horizon, either. “I share the view that the government does far more to destabilize the economy than stabilize it,” he said. “With all that said, however… Armageddon is not about to happen. In fact, economic growth in 2016 could even show a pickup from 2015’s dismal rate.”

Actually, it’s because of government action, in the face of congressional inaction, that we are doing so much better than most of the rest of the developed world. It’s because of the stabilizing influence of our United States of American government. For instance, we are doing much better than the Eurozone because our centralized government and financial system enables retirement income and other benefits—so-called government transfer payments—to flow to the poorest states (almost all red and Republican leaning, by the way) from the wealthiest, thus preventing a Greek-style financial debacle.

So who is the Donald talking to that would believe his Disstopia? It is basically his angry, white primary supporters that continue to fight the US Civil War, as I’ve said. For to generate such fear and loathing of minorities and ‘other’ ethnic groups and races, Donald has to offer them up as scapegoats, much as Hitler’s Germany did to harness and heighten their anger—to which he has added Hillary and the Washington establishment.

Even banking giant Morgan Stanley, part of the Wall Street establishment, sees no coming Disstopia. Their economists believe this economic recovery could last until 2020—that is 13 years from the official end of the Great Recession in June, 2009, which would bust Bill Clinton’s record 10-year recovery.

Some of the reasons given are the U.S. added about 200,000 jobs a month in 2015, its second-best year of employment gains since 1999. And such labor strength and is buoying consumer confidence, a powerful force in an economy that is mostly driven by consumer spending. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index averaged 92.9 last year, the highest since 2004. That’s a big improvement from the 2008 low of 55, says Morgan Stanley.

Home sales are also soaring, with existing plus new-home sales now topping 6 million units, a nine-year high. Also, consumers have been fixing their balance sheets. Morgan Stanley notes that the amount of debt relative disposable income has come down a lot. It currently stands at about 106 percent, down from 135 percent in 2008.

The flip side is that corporations are hoarding their record profits, instead of spending much towards future growth. Morgan Stanley expects the ratio of capital spending-to-sales at S&P 1,500 companies to slip to 4.6 percent by the end of 2016, excluding energy and utilities. Whereas capital expenditures stood at 6 percent and 9 percent before the last two recessions.

Capital spending is down for governments, as well, which is why we have a deteriorating infrastructure that is at least 75 years old. Government hasn’t stepped up to the line to fill the void, as it did during the New Deal. Millions of new jobs would be created when and if those deferred public works’ projects will be done.

And many of Donald’s blue collar supporters would benefit. The bottom line is without someone to blame, Disstopian Donald has no issue. We could even have the longest economy recovery on record, longer than Bill Clinton’s 10 years from 1991 to 2001 that resulted in 4 years of budget surpluses.

Harlan Green © 2016

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