Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Has the Fed Let the Inflation Genie Out of the Bottle? - 10th Aug 20
The Strange Food Trend That’s Making Investors Rich - 10th Aug 20
Supply & Demand For Money – The End of Inflation? - 10th Aug 20
Revisiting Our Silver and Gold Predictions – Get Ready For Higher Prices - 10th Aug 20
Storm Clouds Are Gathering for a Major Stock and Commodity Markets Downturn - 10th Aug 20
A 90-Year-Old Stock Market Investment Insight That's Relevant in 2020 - 10th Aug 20
Debt and Dollar Collapse Leading to Potential Stock Market Melt-Up, - 10th Aug 20
Coronavirus: UK Parents Demand ALL Schools OPEN September, 7 Million Children Abandoned by Teachers - 9th Aug 20
Computer GPU Fans Not Spinning Quick FIX - Sticky Fans Solution - 9th Aug 20
Find the Best Speech Converter for You - 9th Aug 20
Silver Bull Market Update - 7th Aug 20
This Inflation-Adjusted Silver Chart Tells An Interesting Story - 7th Aug 20
The Great American Housing Boom Has Begun - 7th Aug 20
NATURAL GAS BEGINS UPSIDE BREAKOUT MOVE - 7th Aug 20
Know About Lotteries With The Best Odds Of Winning - 7th Aug 20
Could Gold Price Reach $7,000 by 2030? - 6th Aug 20
Bananas for All! Keep Dancing… FOMC - 6th Aug 20
How to Do Bets During This Time - 6th Aug 20
How to develop your stock trading strategy - 6th Aug 20
Stock Investors What to do if Trump Bans TikTok - 5th Aug 20
Gold Trifecta of Key Signals for Gold Mining Stocks - 5th Aug 20
ARE YOU LOVING YOUR SERVITUDE? - 5th Aug 20
Stock Market Uptrend Continues? - 4th Aug 20
The Dimensions of Covid-19: The Hong Kong Flu Redux - 4th Aug 20
High Yield Junk Bonds Are Hot Again -- Despite Warning Signs - 4th Aug 20
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 4th Aug 20
“Government Sachs” Is Worried About the Federal Reserve Note - 4th Aug 20
Gold Miners Still Pushing That Cart of Rocks Up Hill - 4th Aug 20
UK Government to Cancel Christmas - Crazy Covid Eid 2020! - 4th Aug 20
Covid-19 Exposes NHS Institutional Racism Against Black and Asian Staff and Patients - 4th Aug 20
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Stabilizing Tax Revenues Is this Economic Recovery Secretly Strong?

Economics / Economic Recovery Mar 16, 2010 - 02:29 AM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Economics

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleLong time readers of Thoughts from the Frontline will be familiar with the name The Liscio Report. It is one of my "secret" sources of high quality analysis on a wide range of topics including taxes, employment and the underpinnings of the economic headlines that we read which can be so distorted. I say secret because they get nowhere near the attention their work deserves. Philippa Dunne & Doug Henwood, authors of The Liscio Report, do actual on the phone conversations with each of the various states on their tax collections, employment and so on. I find their primary research to be invaluable. Their real time proprietary research based on state withholding and sales tax receipts gives their clients a unique insight into the state of the US economy.


I have talked them into letting me send out their most recent letter, which I found very informative. While their work is not inexpensive ($7,500 annually), for hedge funds, banks, proprietary trading desks and those who need to know what is actually happening as opposed to whatever spin is being put out in the press, you should check them out at www.theliscioreport.com.

And before we jump into their report, I feel the need to comment on the revelations this last week about Lehman and what looks like can only be called fraud. How much more of this is going on? Regulators now have a road map to know what to look for. Auditors are now on notice that this lack of transparency and cooking the books at quarter's end must not be condoned.

And while we're on the topic of transparency, for God's sake, can't we get credit default swaps on an exchange before they blow us all up again? Please? Someone? Anyone? It's been two years. It's what brought Bear and Lehman down. Bluntly, the reason the banks oppose this is that the commissions for an OTC credit default swap are astronomical when compared to what will become a $10 commission on an exchange.

OK, I'll now stop my rant, and allow you to enjoy The Liscio Report. Have a great week.

John Mauldin, Editor Outside the Box

Revenues stabilizing, though it helps to be rich

The Liscio Report By Philippa Dunne & Doug Henwood

In February, 56% of the states in our survey met or exceeded their forecasted sales tax collections, up from 50% in January, and 13% reported positive collections over the year, down from 30% in January. Our intensity index, over-the-year rate of change weighted by state population, was -2.33%, about even with January's -2.28%, and the aggregated divergence from forecast held in the positive range at 0.26%, down a bit from January's 0.5%.

Both of the two last measures are showing real improvement: the over-the-year change, although still negative, is well off its record-setting lows (see below) and the divergence from forecast, with a few small exceptions, hasn't been positive since the fall of 2006.

For the various geographic regions, the good news is generally of a muted variety, and uneven no matter how you break them up. The best results came from states with large investment banking sectors--a few were both positive over the year and above forecast, one quite substantially so. The housing-bubble states without such sectors are slowly clawing back in the long, slow haul they anticipated, with one actually beating forecast by a hair.

The Midwestern manufacturing states continue to report mixed results. One reported the strongest year-over-year gains in the survey, and our contact there believes the relative stability of the major auto-makers is allowing "those who have jobs" to spend a bit more freely. Other states in the region did not do so well, but continue to report a stabilizing trend.

Greatest impatience was expressed by revenue officials around the country in smaller states with mixed economies. They expect to see revenues now moving into positive territory and another month of disappointing results is hard to take.

affluent tightwads

For the last two years, Gallup has been asking 1,000 Americans every day how much they've been spending at stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online. The average for upper-income households--those with incomes above $90,000--in February plunged to a new low of $98, down 13% from January. The numbers aren't seasonally adjusted, so the monthly changes have to be taken with a grain of salt, but the yearly change is a sharp -19%.

By contrast, spending by middle- and lower-income households has been more or less flat for a year. Both are way off their May 2008 peaks--down by almost half for both groups.

As Gallup's chief economist, Dennis Jacobe, pointed out in reporting these results on Wednesday, the retail economy badly needs freer spending by the well-off. That's where most of the discretionary juice is; households of more modest means just don't have the money to ramp up spending beyond the level of basics.

Jacobe attributes this tight-fistedness to "the new normal"--a general cautiousness born of economic uncertainty. Upper-income households are much less exposed to the vagaries of the job market than middle- and lower-income ones. For example, as a study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University reported in February, at the end of 2009, the average unemployment rate for the upper fifth of the income distribution was 2%; for the middle fifth, it was 6%; and for the bottom fifth, it was 19%.

the new normal

It's not just Gallup that's talking about a new regime of lower spending. In a new joint report, the consulting firms Kantar Retail and Price Waterhouse Coopers declare that "an enduring shift has taken place as a result of the Great Recession." Conspicuous consumption will give way to a more mindful sort of spending, and "rampant deal-seeking will be replaced by more purchases selectivity." Over the near future, people will apply the tools and consciousness they learned during the recession even as the economy recovers. Shoppers will put more effort into buying. Gone are the days of recreational browsing and impulse buying; shoppers will plan their purchases more, making lists and Googling for deals. There will be a stigma attached to wasteful spending--and purveyors of luxury goods will have to content themselves by selling to the actually rich alone, without any help from the aspirationally affluent. "Good enough" will take the place of the very best. The mix of goods may change. As Boomers approach retirement, they'll spend less and save more, ceding the cyclical lead to Gens X and Y--which means a bigger role for high-tech gadgetry. But overall spending is likely to remain muted.

Or so they say. The older among us, or the subset of those with still-intact memories, will recall that similar things were said in the early 1990s, when private labels and generic goods were all the rage. That trend faded as the job market recovered, the stock market bubble got going, and the former Chevy driver eventually just had to have an Escalade. Still, this sobriety is likely to be with us for some time--at least until the job market seriously recovers.

That said, spending on nonessentials has been recovering in recent months. Its growth rate is still lagging that of essentials, but the gap is closing. That's to be expected, but a return to 2006 certainly isn't.

By the way, as the graph below shows, the yearly change in sales tax collections in the SDI's universe correlates very nicely with movements in spending on nonessentials (r=0.87). This makes sense, since so many essentials are exempt from sales tax, but it's always gratifying when you can confirm good sense empirically.

Is this recovery secretly strong?

Every now and then you hear respectable analysts claiming that this recovery is stronger than anyone knows, or admits, or wants to contemplate. Rodney Dangerfield, who couldn't get no respect, is invoked in support of this claim.

We wish we could find something this encouraging in the data. To take the measure of the recovery, we've put together four cycle graphs, showing the behavior of some important indicators for the year before and after business cycle troughs. In all but one case (more on that one in a bit), values are indexed so that the trough month = 100. (We're assuming that the trough of the recent recession was in June 2009.) But instead of the usual recovery average, which blends together all upturns since the end of World War II (and which is how we've done this exercise most times in the past), we've done two averages--one representing the weak recoveries of 1991-1992 and 2001-2002, and the other, the strong recoveries of 1975-1976 and 1982-1983.

Graphed below are payroll employment and the unemployment rate. The recent trajectory of both measures is a lot closer to the "weak" line than the "strong." Employment is actually weaker than the "weak." In fact, if employment were hugging the "weak" line, there'd be over 600,000 more jobs in the economy than there were in February. If it were following the "strong" path, there'd be 3.2 million more jobs. Unemployment is close to the "weak" line; if it were following the "strong" path, the jobless rate would be a full point lower than it was in February.

Of course, the job market is only one part of the economic picture--though it's a very important part. What about the broad business cycle indexes? These have the virtue of giving a composite picture of all the economy's major aspects--and using them is a nice check on the temptation to cherry-pick data to prove the point you want to prove.

Two of those composite indexes are graphed below--the Conference Board's coincident index and the Chicago Fed's National Activity Index (CFNAI). The Conference Board index, after having fallen hard in the recession (like the employment indicators), is almost a dead-ringer for the "weak" line.

The CFNAI is the only one of these indicators that isn't indexed so that the trough month is set to 100. The reason for that is that the index itself is normalized over time so that its long-term average is 0, which is also the economy's long-term trend growth rate. Any value above 0 is over trend; any under 0, under trend. A value of 1 is a standard deviation above average. Values above .70 are thought to be where the economy is running far enough above trend that inflation is a worry. Historically, the CFNAI has proven to be a good real-time measure of the state of the business cycle.

Here too, we're much closer to "weak" than "strong"--and still below 0. Seven months into a strong recovery, the CNFAI has averaged 1.0--meaning that we're more than a standard deviation below a strong recovery's reading.

So, no, this is not a Rodney Dangerfield recovery. Maybe it will become one--but we doubt that the markets will be inclined to badmouth the strength of the thing in the coming months.

Philippa Dunne & Doug Henwood

John Mauldin
Editor, Outside the Box

By John Mauldin

John Mauldin, Best-Selling author and recognized financial expert, is also editor of the free Thoughts From the Frontline that goes to over 1 million readers each week. For more information on John or his FREE weekly economic letter go to: http://www.frontlinethoughts.com/learnmore

To subscribe to John Mauldin's E-Letter please click here:http://www.frontlinethoughts.com/subscribe.asp

Copyright 2010 John Mauldin. All Rights Reserved
John Mauldin is president of Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. All material presented herein is believed to be reliable but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. Opinions expressed in these reports may change without prior notice. John Mauldin and/or the staff at Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC may or may not have investments in any funds cited above. Mauldin can be reached at 800-829-7273.

Disclaimer PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN MANAGED FUNDS. WHEN CONSIDERING ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules