Reuters | Aug 27, 2010 | 10:45pm IST
It could be 10 years before economic growth in the United States and elsewhere returns to pre-recession norms and employment rates may never regain lost ground if past history is any guide, two prominent economists said in a paper presented on Friday. Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart, in a paper presented at an annual conference hosted by the Federal Reserve, found that growth in gross domestic product is significantly lower during the decade after a severe financial crisis that is felt world-wide, as was the case with the recent meltdown. Their assessment could damp the spirits of central bankers gathered at the annual Fed enclave in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who are already anxious that the recovery from the painful recession has run out of gas and they may be forced to take further steps to stimulate growth.
The authors, a husband and wife team — she is an economics professor at the University of Maryland and he is a former director of the Fed’s division of monetary affairs who is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute — drew their conclusions from studying global and country-specific crashes, including the 2007 subprime mortgage collapse, the 1973 oil shock, and the 1929 Great Depression. Policy makers should consider that growth, employment and credit may never regain levels attained before 2007, they said. "Recent discussions about the ‘new normal’ in reference to the post-crisis landscape leave the impression that the pre-crisis environment was ‘normal,’" they wrote. "In fact, there are reasons to believe that the pre-crisis decade set a high water-mark distorted by a variety of forces."
Bloomberg | March 29, 2010 | 10:44 EDT
The strengthening US. economy, subdued inflation and rising stock prices are propelling the dollar rally into its fifth month as traders seek refuge from Europe’s fiscal crisis and Japanese deflation. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. ended bets on a falling dollar last week after the trades lost 2.8 percent. Strategists are raising greenback forecasts at the fastest pace since last March, just before US stimulus efforts that poured as much as $12.8 trillion into the economy ended the currency’s strongest rally in 28 years. Median predictions for the dollar against 47 currencies tracked in Bloomberg surveys rose an average of 1.4 percentage points in the month to March 24. A year after correctly predicting the currency’s decline and likening it to the fall of Rome, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Alan Ruskin said it may soar 22 percent to $1.10 per euro if Greece defaults.
“We’ve moved away from the worst fears,” said Ruskin, the head of currency strategy for RBS Capital Markets in Stamford, Connecticut. “In the US, the economy picked itself up off the ground,” he said in an interview. “Compared to what it might have looked like from the view of March 2009, March 2010 looks very good.” The US Labor Department will report on April 2 that 190,000 jobs were created this month, the most in three years, according to the median estimate of 62 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 5.6 percent in March, and the latest report on consumer prices showed the cost of living was unchanged in February, ensuring inflation won’t cut off the recovery.
Consumer prices in Japan, meanwhile, fell for a 12th month in February, the government reported March 26. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the same day that the nation’s potential growth rate between 2011 and 2017 will be the lowest among Group of Seven at 0.9 percent. Leaders of the 16-nation euro region sought International Monetary Fund help to respond to Greece’s budget crisis. Portugal’s credit rating was cut one step by Fitch Ratings to AA- with a “negative”
NYT | 6:15 am ET | Feb. 21, 2010
Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits. Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed. Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come. Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.
Here in Southern California, Jean Eisen has been without work since she lost her job selling beauty salon equipment more than two years ago. In the several months she has endured with neither a paycheck nor an unemployment check, she has relied on local food banks for her groceries. She has learned to live without the prescription medications she is supposed to take for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She has become effusively religious — an unexpected turn for this onetime standup comic with X-rated material — finding in Christianity her only form of health insurance. “I pray for healing,” says Ms. Eisen, 57. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got to go with what you know.” Warm, outgoing and prone to the positive, Ms. Eisen has worked much of her life. Now, she is one of 6.3 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer, the largest number since the government began keeping track in 1948. That is more than double the toll in the next-worst period, in the early 1980s. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/12/22 | 22:00:40 GMT
The US economy grew by less than originally estimated between July and September, official figures show. The latest estimate said the economy grew at an annual pace of 2.2%, down from the previous estimate of 2.8%. The first reading had shown growth of 3.5%. It is the first quarter in which the US economy returned to growth, after four quarters of decline. Separately, a report showed new home sales rose 7.4% in November, spurred on by government incentives. The National Association of Realtors said sales rose to an annual rate of 6.5 million – the highest level in more than two years.
“This clearly is a rush of first-time buyers not wanting to miss out on the tax credit, but there are many more potential buyers who can enter the market in the months ahead,” said the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun. The original deadline for the US government’s tax credits was 30 November. It was later extended. Mr. Yun said: “We expect a temporary sales drop while buying activity Continue reading
Bloomberg | December 17, 2009 | 09:37 EST
The dollar rose to the highest level in three months against the euro while stocks and commodities fell as Greece’s debt downgrade fanned concern that spiraling national debts may hamper the global economic recovery. The U.S. currency advanced against all of the 16 most- traded peers at 9:32 a.m. in New York after the Federal Reserve indicated yesterday that it may begin to scale back emergency lending programs. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.7 percent as Citigroup Inc. sold stock at a discount; FedEx Corp.’s profit forecast trailed estimates and initial jobless claims unexpectedly increased. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed nations’ stocks slipped 1.3 percent. Oil and gold led declines in commodities.
Standard & Poor’s decision yesterday to reduce Greece’s credit rating for the second time this year raised concern among investors that the worst global recession since World War II is still weighing on some economies. At the same time, the Fed said after a two-day meeting that most of its lending programs will expire as scheduled Feb. 1 because of ‘improvements in the functioning of financial markets.’ “All eyes are on Greece, and to a lesser extent Spain and the U.K.,” said Luca Cazzulani, a fixed-income strategist at UniCredit SpA in Milan. “The situation requires a lot of prudence right now” from investors, he said. Continue reading
Bloomberg | December 2, 2009 | 19:01 EST
European banks are emerging from the credit crisis bigger than before, posing more risk to their national economies. BNP Paribas SA, Barclays Plc and Banco Santander SA are among at least 353 European lenders that have increased in size since the beginning of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fifteen European banks now have assets larger than their home economies, compared with 10 lenders three years ago. While the European Union has grabbed headlines for breaking up bailed-out banks, regulators haven’t reined in firms that shunned state aid and are too big to fail. European bank assets have grown 25 percent since the start of 2007, compared with a 20 percent increase at U.S. lenders, Bloomberg data show.
“We are sowing the seeds for the next crisis,” said David Lascelles, senior fellow at the London-based Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, a research group. “What we have been doing in the last two years is making banks much bigger. It really goes against the currents of the time.” Banks expanded their balance sheets during the credit bubble, borrowing cheap money in the wholesale market to fund loans and investments. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s assets ballooned 2,914 percent in the 10 years through 2008 as it made acquisitions, boosted trading and increased lending. Edinburgh- based RBS spent $140 billion on takeovers during the period, culminating in the purchase of ABN Amro Holding NV in 2007 that triggered the world’s biggest bank bailout. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/27 | 11:46:02 GMT
Chancellor Alistair Darling will say in his pre-Budget report that the economy performed worse in 2009 than he first predicted, Treasury sources have said. Mr. Darling is expected to say that the UK economy shrank by 4.75% this year – more than the 3.5% originally forecast in the Budget in March. The adjustment follows the economy’s unexpectedly poor performance in the first three months of the year. But he is likely to stick to 2010 forecasts of growth between 1-1.5%.
Return to growth
On Thursday, Mr. Darling said that since the Budget forecasts were made, “new data has shown that most economies, ours included, suffered a severe shock in the first quarter of this year”. He added that he still expected a return to growth around the turn of the year. The UK economy has contracted for the past six quarters, but the economies of the US, Japan, France and Germany have all started growing again. Recent UK economic figures, such as retail sales and manufacturing output, have indicated signs of recovery. October’s retail sales were up 0.4% from September, according to the Office for National Statistics. And the latest Purchasing Managers Index showed manufacturing output increased at its fastest rate for almost two years in October.