The Conference Board – a nonprofit think tank that delivers cutting edge research – recently published its latest Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the United States. The findings were a giant bummer. In December, the LEI dropped for the tenth consecutive month.
The LEI, if you’re unfamiliar with it, consolidates various measures of economic activity, including credit, interest rate spreads, consumer expectations, building permits, new orders of goods and materials, and several other items, to assess which way the economic winds are blowing. Over the past six months, the LEI has fallen by 4.2 percent. This is the fastest six-month decline since the great coronavirus panic.
This week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis provided its advance estimate of Q4 U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). For the final quarter of 2022, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent.
How could it be that GDP is expanding while the LEI is contracting? Continue reading
Clear thinking. Logical assumptions. Well-reasoned conclusions. Such principles are in low supply these days. But are they in high demand?
Readers who have suffered the financial pinch and frustration of a large project gone sideways know that professional life is rarely neat and almost never tidy. One team member’s obsessive focus on minutia can quickly burn through the budget. A zealous regulator or supply chain breakdown can wreak havoc on the schedule.
There are, however, special benefits that are earned when taking a run through the meat grinder. For one, there are countless opportunities to build character, regardless of if one desires a slice of humble pie.
We worked as a project manager for an international consulting firm for over two decades. Bidding, winning (and losing), contracting, delivering, and billing work was our daily focus.
Anyone who’s ever earned their living in this game can testify that it’s a terrible business. Still, the character-building experiences are priceless. Continue reading
The United States is lurching towards an epic financial catastrophe. This isn’t a novel insight. The great tragedy has been in the works for decades. Anyone with a mild inkling of curiosity knows what’s going on.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population clock, the U.S. population is over 334 million. This, no doubt, is a lot of mouths to feed and people to clothe and shelter. But that’s not all.
Many of these people also need some sort of medical care throughout the year. Some may break their arm. Others may have their appendix burst or suffer cardiac arrest. There are also serious medical emergencies from car accidents or other hazards.
In an economy characterized by limited government and individual liberty people are self-supporting. They provide the means to pay for these needs through the fruits of their own labors. Minors are supported by their families until they can provide for themselves. The elderly may fall back on their kids if they didn’t squirrel away enough nuts during their working years. Continue reading
The New Year brings both optimism and hope. A chance to start fresh. To turn over a new leaf.
The sentiment is welcome. The outcome, however, can be a grave disappointment.
If you recall, 2022 was supposed to be a year of redemption and prosperity. After the ugly coronavirus fiasco, the economy was finally reopening. The general belief was that the resurgence of economic activity was going to bring a new boom and a new cycle of prosperity.
But then something unexpected happened. On the first day of market trading, January 3, 2022, the S&P 500 hit a closing peak of 4,796. Yesterday, just over a year later, the S&P 500 closed at 3,808. Down over 20 percent.
Over this duration, the yield on the 10-Year Treasury note spiked from 1.66 percent to 3.70 percent. In other words, Uncle Sam’s borrowing costs have more than doubled.
At the same time, transitory inflation proved to be enduring. And gross domestic product (GDP) went negative for the first two quarters of 2022. Continue reading