Recession storm-clouds gathering

Although the latest GDP report showed the US economy grew at a blazing 4.9% in the 3rd quarter, the data looking forward is looking increasingly weak.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) has gone into negative territory. Our economy has gone into a recession every time the LEI has gone negative, except for once in the late 1960’s.

The credit crunch, brought on by lax lending standards to subprime borrowers, is spreading to every credit market. Banks are taking HUGE write-offs, and being forced to make fewer loans as they rebuild their balance sheets.

The employment market looks to be rolling over. The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims has risen to 343,000, the highest since June 2004 (except for the spike due to Hurricane Katrina). In June 2004, it was on the way down after the 2001 recession. It’s currently on the way up.

Retail sales are looking to be worse Christmas season since the last recession.

Volatility in the bond and stock market has risen dramatically.

Copper prices have been falling.

UPS and Fedex have announced disappointing results looking forward, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average has been diving.

Financial indexes have been tanking, and in a finance-based economy like ours, that’s a bad sign.

The one big thing that hasn’t confirmed all these dark clouds is the stock market. Either stock investors are more prescient and no recession will occur, or they are deluding themselves into believing things will be okay or the recession won’t last long.

My guess is that most stock investors are being overly optimistic, and aren’t looking at coming earnings shortfalls.

When companies begin to report earnings next January, I think investors will get an initial shock. Over time, more information will pour out that the economy is in a recession. By the time this evidence is conclusive, the economy will probably be recovering.

Most investors will be scared when they should be greedy. In other words, by the time investors are scared about a recession, stock prices will be low, and it will be a great time to invest.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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