Recent disappointing news on the spread of COVID-19 has raised questions about whether the rebound in economic activity has been dealt a serious blow. Ironically, this comes at a time when the blowout 4.8 million increase in employment in June again surpassed forecasts by experts by a country mile. Will these emerging chutes of economic … Continue reading Could the Recovery be Losing its Legs?
Recent data pointed to the willingness of households and businesses to resume spending in May. Personal consumption outlays on goods and services increased 8 percent in May, retracing nearly 40 percent of the plunge over the previous two months. Especially encouraging was the bounce back in purchases of big-ticket durable goods, such as motor vehicles … Continue reading Encouraging Signs
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)—the semiofficial arbiter of business cycles in the United States—has officially determined that the longest postwar expansion came to an end in February. In other words, the COVID-19 recession got going in March. No surprise there. Of more interest now is whether a turnaround has begun and are we … Continue reading Has the Recovery Begun?
Since mid-March, the M1 measure of the money stock has grown $900 billion—an increase of more than 20 percent over just two-and-a-half months. If it kept this pace, M1 would double in a year. Accompanying this, the Federal Reserve has injected massive amounts of liquidity into our economy by purchasing more than $2-1/2 trillion of … Continue reading Any Signs of Inflation Yet?
Each day, it seems, the stock market moves closer to its February peak. After a late-winter plunge that erased roughly $7 trillion in household wealth, the S&P 500 index has recovered nearly all of those losses. Are investors in the market oblivious to the ongoing damage from COVID-19? What about the upheaval over the death … Continue reading Has the Market Gotten Ahead of Itself?
What do Pier 1 Imports, JC Penney, Gold’s Gym, and Cinemax have in common? All are well-known businesses that have filed for bankruptcy recently—casualties of COVID-19. Not so well known are the family-owned restaurants down the street, the owners of the local gyms, and the Uber drivers. Are these canaries in the coal mine, only … Continue reading Sorting Through the Pain
Each week we learn about the new job losses caused by the COVID crisis. Through the first part of May, the number of people who had lost their jobs and had filed for unemployment insurance had accumulated to 36 million—22 percent of the labor force. Many others have faced cutbacks in hours worked. The job … Continue reading What Are We Learning About the Economic Decline?
Over recent decades, the United States has in small steps extended the socialization of risk. We have become more responsive to those experiencing losses that threaten their livelihood. This has taken the form of growing assistance to those hit by natural disasters—tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. It has also taken the form of coverage of … Continue reading Socializing Risk
Heating up is the issue of whether the next COVID-19 bill to be considered by Congress will include massive assistance from the federal to state and local governments, especially those most strapped. If enacted, this will involve the federal government borrowing even more in the credit market to be able to achieve the transfer. Why, … Continue reading Why is the Federal Government the One to Pay for This?
The Federal Reserve—the Fed—is the only institution in our economy that is authorized to create money, essentially out of thin air. This can take the form of cash, those greenbacks in your wallet, or electronic credits to bank accounts. Since early March, the Fed has ramped up liquidity roughly $2-1/2 trillion—yes, trillion. This has been … Continue reading Are We Drowning in Fed Liquidity?