In January 2009, I pointed out:
The Telegraph’s lead economic writer, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, has an interesting article arguing that we are in 1931-like conditions:
- A big crash has already happened
- Things are very gloomy
- But we haven’t been hit by the biggest crash, the “second leg down” which didn’t end for a couple of years
What’s he talking about?
Well, look at this chart:
(click here to see full image).
As you can see, the 1929 crash was actually very small compared to the “second leg down” crash which didn’t end until 1932 or 1933.
Today, CNBC is reporting:
“Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it…there was a head and shoulders pattern that developed before the Depression in 1929, then with the recovery in 1930 we had another head and shoulders pattern that preceded a fall in the market, and in the current Dow situation we see an exact repeat of that environment,” Guppy said.
(Robert McHugh is saying the same thing.)
And yesterday, Evans-Pritchard gave an update on macroeconomic trends in an article entitled “With the US trapped in depression, this really is starting to feel like 1932”:
“The economy is still in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession,” said Robert Reich, former US labour secretary. “All the booster rockets for getting us beyond it are failing.”
“Home sales are down. Retail sales are down. Factory orders in May suffered their biggest tumble since March of last year. So what are we doing about it? Less than nothing,” he said. [You can read the rest of Reich’s essay here]
California is tightening faster than Greece…. Can Illinois be far behind?
Roughly a million Americans have dropped out of the jobs market altogether over the past two months. That is the only reason why the headline unemployment rate is not exploding to a post-war high.
Let us be honest. The US is still trapped in depression a full 18 months into zero interest rates, quantitative easing (QE), and fiscal stimulus that has pushed the budget deficit above 10pc of GDP.
The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June actually fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. This is the real stress indicator. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Eight million jobs have been lost.
The average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks. Nothing like this has been seen before in the post-war era. Jeff Weninger, of Harris Private Bank, said this compares with a peak of 21.2 weeks in the Volcker recession of the early 1980s.
“Legions of individuals have been left with stale skills, and little prospect of finding meaningful work, and benefits that are being exhausted. By our math the crop of people who are unemployed but not receiving a check amounts to 9.2m.”
Dean Heller from Vermont called [the jobless facing an imminent cut-off of unemployment benefits] “hobos”. This really is starting to feel like 1932.
Washington’s fiscal stimulus is draining away. It peaked in the first quarter, yet even then the economy eked out a growth rate of just 2.7pc. This compares with 5.1pc, 9.3pc, 8.1pc and 8.5pc in the four quarters coming off recession in the early 1980s.
The housing market is already crumbling as government props are pulled away. The expiry of homebuyers’ tax credit led to a 30pc fall in the number of buyers signing contracts in May. “It is cataclysmic,” said David Bloom from HSBC.
Federal tax rises are automatically baked into the pie. The Congressional Budget Office said fiscal policy will swing from a net +2pc of GDP to -2pc by late 2011. The states and counties may have to cut as much as $180bn.
Investors are starting to chew over the awful possibility that America’s recovery will stall just as Asia hits the buffers. China’s manufacturing index has been falling since January, with a downward lurch in June to 50.4, just above the break-even line of 50. Momentum seems to be flagging everywhere, whether in Australian building permits, Turkish exports, or Japanese industrial output.
On Friday, Jacques Cailloux from RBS put out a “double-dip alert” for Europe. “The risk is rising fast. Absent an effective policy intervention to tackle the debt crisis on the periphery over coming months, the European economy will double dip in 2011,” he said.
There is alot of talk of a massive new round of quantitative easing. But as long as the real problems with the economy are not fixed, the additional stimulus will just create a larger drag on the economy.