December 2, 2013

Malaise hasn't left us

I get the sense, as I'm sure many do, that the economy is performing worse than the actual reported numbers have been indicating.  The unemployment numbers we've already heard were being misrepresented and they probably still are - after all we're never far from an election.  It used to be communist governments that would blatantly lie to their people.  I'm not na├»ve enough to think that the American government doesn't keep secrets from it's people and doesn't spy on them.  A certain amount of each is required for national security.  But to lie for political purposes is a gross violation of the public trust.

In any case, the malaise hasn't really left.  The GDP numbers, whether tweaked or not, have been dismal.  And this weekend - results look, well, underwhelming:
With the economy bumping along at a lackluster pace, and this year’s shorter-than-usual window between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sales and promotions began weeks before Thanksgiving Day, making this holiday shopping season more diffuse than ever. That left Black Friday weekend itself, the season’s customary kickoff, looking a bit gloomy.

Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.

“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” said Matthew Shay, the chief executive of the retail federation. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”
In other words, Q4 2013 is shaping up to be not a great end to the year for the economy.  Take a look at this graph, and discounting any BLS manipulation, there is a clear result that jumps out:

 

After the massive stimulus that brought the United States a lifetime of additional debt, the economy has settled back to moribund, pitiful numbers.  The trend line since Q4 2009 has been downward.  The stimulus only worked, if it did at all, in the short term.  It was an unsustainable gambit that planted no real seeds of future growth.  There has been no solar power industry boom for example.  There has been no sudden growth of several hundred thousand jobs in the medical industry as Nancy Pelosi once assured voters there would be.
 
Perhaps at long last a malaise will settle in on president Obama's job approval and that of his cronies in the senate as well and they will be kept from returning office in 2014, while the president will be faced with a true lame duck status for the remainder of his term.  Only then will a chance at real recovery be feasible.
 
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