In this series on the near-term economic outlook, we’ve looked at housing, commerce, and unemployment data. [Start with part 1 here if this is your first visit to Lairig Marketing.] Now, let’s hear what the real experts are saying.
Here are some sources of economic insight that Ad Age or Mashable would never point you to.
First up are some long-time “Street” guys, writing for TheStreet.com. It’s hard to find serious analysis in a short-term bull market, but here is an interesting observation from Gene Balas, a CFA who has managed money using economic-based strategies.
Among his own ongoing series on the economy, Balas wrote a thoughtful piece on government stimulus. In sum, we are running out of ways to generate real gains in productivity, and almost none of the Fed’s “easing” over the recent years has had anything to do with technology or infrastructure. Money simply sloshing around on balance sheets.
Add to that the voice of another street.com contributor, Roger Arnold, an economist who earns respect because he is not an academic. Arnold has been brutal in his near-term evaluation of the U.S. economy, but always based on facts:
“…social security tax receipts collected by the U.S. Treasury from companies on behalf of their employees are declining, even as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment is increasing…[this] dichotomy is difficult to rationalize or explain, as is the lack of inquisitiveness by financial pundits and equity-market participants.”
“Freight and cargo shipments are declining rapidly worldwide.”
“Every post-World War II expansion in the U.S. has been led by housing.”
Great analysts keep an eye on the economic research group ECRI, which signaled the prior two U.S. recessions well in advance. Here’s what ECRI says now, as it signals another recession, in the face of so much mainstream-media twaddle:
“We find that year-over-year growth in ECRI’s Weekly Leading Index remains in a cyclical downturn and, as of early March, is near its worst reading since July 2009.”
Our own industry? It’s been forgotten already, but let’s recall that digital – yes, digital – ad spending went negative in Q4 2011, dragging the whole pile down with it. Kantar Media reports it was the fifth in a row of downtrending quarters of ad-spend “growth.” We’ll remind you that the ad industry is typically a leading economic indicator on the way in, lagging on the way out.
Finally, some contrarian views. First, the academically focused and tin-eared National Association for Business Economics. According to its January poll, these gray beards were MORE optimistic about GDP growth than its prior survey, with the typical “GDP is OK now, will improve later” outlook.
Confirming that we should “zig when they zag” is the just-released Business Roundtable Q1 CEO Economic Outlook Survey. The outlook index score from “the guys in the ivory tower” is now back to a level seen in late 2006.