The US Economy is Fine Now, But Watch Out for 2020

Rusty Tweed

Rusty Tweed

According to Paul Ashworth, who serves in the Capital Economics as the chief U.S economist and also the winner of March Forecaster of the Month award, he mentioned that the current status of the U.S economy is doing well, but as the next few years comes by, the stimulus is going to start fading away.

Mr. Ashworth added that his team was optimistic about America’s stability, and they assumed for such a long time that Washington’s United Republican government would bring about a good amount of stimulus, which happened and they were right. The move to cut taxes and end the spending restraint has given the economy of the U.S a great boost to survive the next two years.

What is in store for the U.S economy 2019 and 2020

After the next two years, what is going to happen? Ashworth stated,” There is a growing concern that the fiscal stimulus is fading, and this is bringing about a major concern.” For 2019 and 2020, Ashworth is expecting these years to be weaker because the Federal Reserve is expected to cut the country’s interest rates in 2020.

According to Ashworth and his team, they see that the economic projections of the Federal Reserve are optimistic at growing way above the trend up to the year 2020. This projection seems to be too far-fetched if you ask Micheal Pearce who is a senior U.S economist. He continued to share his sentiments on how the fiscal stimulus will send a boost to spending and incomes for one final time, unless the economy finds a new source of supply capacity to grow the economy; otherwise, growth will start to drop.

What is expected to happen after 2020

According to economists, they expect a modest downturn in the economy which should be reversed quickly after 2020, because the expansion will take some time to end. But by the time the downturn will be ending, the U.S economy will have undergone the longest expansion in its history.

Ashworth advises that people should think about what is going to happen in the next downturn. Although they expect it to stay for a relatively short time, it won’t be as damaging as the great recession that occurred in the year 2008-2009.

Some of the reasons that might cause the economic downturn

There is a premise that Ashworth does not accept. The premise involves how the Republican fiscal plan revolves around the supply-side economics that assumes businesses have for the longest time been holding back on investing in new supply because of high taxes and regulations.

Ashworth’s argument is related to how countries that had low corporate tax never see an economic boom in their investment afterward. He added that the U.S is known to raise its capital spending because supply is starting to hinder growth, and not because companies have been set free.

There is also the issue of the trade war that is going on between the U.S and China. This kind of talk is great for politics but is bad for economics. But will be seen in the next few months is the U.S government accepting some small concessions and reign supreme on the trade wars; the same way South Korea’s case was handled and is also expected to happen with NAFTA negotiations.

The Future of the U.S Economy for the years to come

Since the Trump Administration took power, he created a positive economic sentiment that was also taken by the Republican majorities. Trump’s administration pledged that they would pursue the reform, tax cuts and policy trifecta of deregulation.

What is known is that sentiment usually goes both ways. Just like the pro-business way that Trump is using can boost the confidence of the economy, the perception of leader who is not-for-business can bring down the confidence. Since sentiments influence the behavior of people, their impact is far-reaching. But the sentiment is not a great way to measure the actual economic prospects and development.

So far, when you look at the market’s reaction to Trump’s victory, there has seen a rise in stocks to multiple highs, but that has not been the case on “hard data.” Economic forecasters have only made some modest increase in their projections.

If the confidence in the US economy does not trickle down to hard data, expectations that are not met on corporate earnings and economic growth could cause the sentiment of the financial market to slow down, which will fuel market volatility and shoot down asset prices. This scenario will sputter the US engine to cause the global economy to slow down, especially if these scenarios cause the Trump administration to come up with protectionist measures.

Looming “Debt Hangover” Will Crush The Economy

Rusty Tweed

Rusty Tweed

A time will come when the U.S will inevitably have a debt hangover, it may not be the coming week or next month, but it will soon come. The continued effects of continued lowering of the tax-revenue, government spending, always-increasing interest payments, and increasing compulsory welfare payments will soon be felt, and that is a feeling that will not be a pleasant one.

How we got here

The current national U.S debt that is publicly held is 75% of the GDP. Although that number can be shocking to the average citizen, to economists, they see this number as a good figure. Before the recession of 2008, the national public debt in the U.S was at 35% of the GDP. Over the last decade, the debt has grown by 40%. Why is that the case?

The answer lies in government spending. The U.S government decided that the only way to get out of the recession was to spend. This was championed by the Federal Reserve and a handful of economists who encouraged monetary and fiscal authorities to continue deficit spending and issue more debt to institutions and individuals or borrow in order to spend. That decision worked, but some people argue that there was not enough money that has been spent.

The impact of debt hangover in the U.S economy

Currently, the U.S is undergoing low unemployment rates and a long period of growth that has never been seen in the history of the country. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it was highlighted that by the year 2047, while maintaining the same trend of fiscal policy, the U.S debt ratio will linger around 150% of the GDP. Imagine what is happening between Italy and Greece happening in the U.S; that is how bad the situation can get for the U.S.

The World Bank has put up estimates that every percentage point that goes above the debt to GDP ratio of 77% would lead to a decline in the annual growth by 17 basis points. This can translate to a loss of 12% of the growth of GDP in the next 30 years. Looking at it in another perspective, it would mean that the U.S economy will have stopped growing for over four years.

If you think that is the only consequence of the existing fiscal policy, you are wrong. The flexibility that Congress has on implementing expansionary fiscal policy in economic downturns will be less. Investors will be in need of higher rates of interest to be able to invest in an economy that is increasingly becoming volatile.

When the cycle of net interest payment increases and higher interest rates are resent, the result will be a net interest payment that will eclipse other major spending programs by 2047. If we decide to look at Medicare and Social Security, it will require large investments to keep the short-term solvency.

What the economists say

There are economists who argue that if the economy could be spurred faster than the compounding interest payments, and it ignores entitlement programs, then things would be okay. But spending is not the issue; the problem rests on the revenue and the GOP tax plans which do not help.

The GOP tax plan economics is not hard. When you talk to the Keynesian economists, they would argue that the tax cuts spur economic growth and stimulate the economy. But most of the economists are not supporting the tax plan and the basis behind it, especially when you look at the current economic status. Cutting taxes is not something that is needed at this time.

Most economists believe that the lack of tax revenue will increase the chances of a financial crisis. Estimates by the Dynamic CBO propose that the growth of the GDP due to tax cuts will be dismal and will be below the required levels that are to mitigate the impact of an increased portion of the U.S national debt to GDP.

At the moment, the U.S government is not armed with the right tools to deal with the debt hangover that is looming. Within the next decade, the economy will still maintain the healthy standards. The U.S will not be bothered by the impacts of the existing fiscal policy until the time when it is too late.

The GOP tax plan consequences should not be understated, and it was not only the tax plan that placed the U.S in this state. There needs to be an implementation of reforms that will alleviate the impending consequences of the existing fiscal policy. But sadly, the changes in policy that are needed do not appeal politically.

Revenue needs to be raised by the Congress, and spending should be cut without impacting Medicare and Social Security. There are a number of options that the CBO provides, and they are 115 in total. These options are meant to control discretionary and mandatory spending and stimulate revenue.

Current Market Indications Point to Potentially Robust Economic Growth in 2018

It has been nearly a decade since the end of the Great Recession. After such a lengthy period of recovery, there are now signs that the US economy is finally poised to experience robust growth throughout 2018. Perhaps most importantly, current market trends have economists especially optimistic about the possibility of pervasive growth, with many analysts expecting a significant acceleration in wage gains.

During the long period of economic recovery that began in 2009, the US economy posted an average growth of 2.1 percent, with 2.9 percent (2015) representing the high-water mark. Due to the expectation of continued business investment and rising consumer spending, analysts are projecting a 2.6 percent rate of growth for 2018, an increase of 0.3 percent from the 2017 projection (2.3 percent). Since the 2018 projection was made prior to the passage of tax legislation, it’s reasonable to conclude that the 2.6 percent figure might approach a full 3 percent.

Of course, these projections never rely on any single market indicator, and a number of recent developments have contributed to the optimistic economic projections for the year ahead. Consumer demand for automobiles, combined with continued technological innovation as well as the recent rally in oil production, has been instrumental in the recovery experienced in the manufacturing sector. With the global economy also growing stronger, other sectors in the US have enjoyed significant benefits as well.

These recent domestic and international gains continue to play an important role in the declining unemployment rate in the United States. At 4.1 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is the lowest posted in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when the unemployment rate reached 10 percent in 2009 (prior to 2009, it hadn’t eclipsed 10 percent since 1983).

Even at the current rate of 4.1 percent, analysts tend to agree that the downward trend will continue in 2018. This is good news for American workers, as employers will be forced to compete for new hires and will likely adopt stronger policies intended to retain current employees. Employers will also have to seriously consider instituting robust training programs to help fill existing vacancies, which will give American workers the opportunity to expand their skill set without investing in potentially costly academic programs or vocational schools.

It’s these conditions — an ever-tightening labor market at a time when companies have immediate and expanding employment needs — that have economists confident that wage growth with finally experience significant gains after stagnating for nearly a decade. According to current projections, analysts are predicting an increase of 2.5 percent for 2018, with gains growing stronger with each passing month until finally exceeding 3 percent at year’s close.

When wage growth rises at a rate approaching 3 percent, it’s only natural to expect a commensurate increase in consumer spending, which is responsible for approximately 70 percent of the US economy. Consumer spending is expected to increase at a rate of 2.5 percent, and business investment is projected to grow at a rate of anywhere from 4.5 percent to 6 percent or more.

The recent tax legislation is expected to further bolster these projections, although it remains possible that the overwhelming majority of corporations will opt to use the tax cuts to increase dividends or buy back stock rather than investing in employees by increasing wages or expanding benefits.

Although the full economic impact of the recently passed tax cut legislation remains to be seen, economists recognize ample reason for optimism about the possibility of economic growth in the year 2018. The most recent projections for economic growth are supported by a number of critical market indicators, including declining unemployment rates, increasing wage gains, and the likelihood of increased business investment, all of which contribute to the growing confidence in the future of the US economy.

Predicting China’s 2018 Economic Priorities

The priorities of the world’s second-largest economy are quite likely to shift in 2018, as those in charge of overseeing the Chinese economy seem to prefer a more cautious approach focused on protecting against the threat of a potential financial crisis. As a result, stimulating economic growth is no longer the chief concern of Chinese officials. According to several economic analysts familiar with the new priorities of the government, China’s 2018 economic growth target will remain somewhere around 6.5 percent, unchanged from the target set for the previous year.

Over the past year or so, China has sharpened its focus on limiting capital outflows and tracking down any potential “gray rhinos” — the unaddressed and eminently solvable threats that left unchecked might undermine the country’s manufacturing-driven economy. After capital outflows reached an unprecedented $725 billion in 2016, China instituted several policies designed to limit capital outflow. Those policies, as evidenced by the continued improvement in the nation’s foreign reserve funds, are rightly viewed as successful in achieving the government’s desired outcome.

This risk-averse approach is not necessarily welcome news for the local government officials with growth targets that still need to be met. In order to carry out its economic agenda, however, the current administration has expressed a clear willingness to part with any government official who disagrees with the economic plan as it currently exists. Given its firm belief in the course it has charted, it’s fair to predict that China will keep its interbank interest rates high while implementing additional policies intended to keep its money supply growth in check (a rate of 7 or 8 percent is a reasonable estimate).

China is also quite likely to reduce the pace of infrastructure growth, with its longstanding debt concerns representing the principal reason for the reduction. It’s also likely that the country will continue to shift its focus from an economy built on manufacturing to a consumer and services-based economy. As a number of other analysts have pointed out, growth stemming from such a shift is unlikely without further effort to promote the change, with tax cuts being the most frequently suggested strategy for realizing the potential gains of the ongoing economic transition.

Although Chinese officials are adopting a risk-averse approach with the goal of preventing a financial crisis, most authorities remain confident in the country’s ability to create a protective barrier around its financial and economic systems. In the view of these officials, such a barrier — along with the cautious economic plan it has outlined for this year — will effectively limit the impact of any internal or external shocks in 2018 and beyond.

The Recovery of the Housing Market Prices

When the United States went through the recession in 2008, not many analysts anticipated such a prolonged period of adverse consequences. The downturn in the economy, that was primarily caused by the housing market bubble, however, is now in the rearview mirror. Or at least, that is what the latest reports created by The Standard & Poor’s Case–Shiller Home Price Indices showcase.

Before diving into the number-heavy data that is the main reason to believe how the housing market is in its “rebirth” stage, defining Case–Shiller Home Price Indices must be done. Basically, Case-Shiller indices are the so-called house price indices for the United States. The numbers are calculated by looking at a minor subset of homes and then generalizing these results on large populations sizes with matching criteria. The ones that are going to be brought up here come from the 20-city composite index as well as the national home price.

With that being said, the latest 20-city index shows a 0.5 percent monthly spike that translates into a 6.2 percent yearly increase in the house prices. The national index, similarly, demonstrated a 0.7 percent increase on a monthly level while the annual rate accumulated to the same 6.2 percent. This is exciting news for the housing industry that has been recovering since 2008 when it faced some of its darkest times.

Even though the aforementioned data clearly presents a reason to be enthusiastic about the future home prices, there is always more to the equation. Case-Shiller’s index is a very prominent tool that millions of people utilize to track real estate prices, but it has its shortcomings. This is why looking at more reports will help minimize the margin of error and facilitate accurate results.

According to Trulia, another outlet that can conduct a market analysis of real estate prices, the nation is still not completely recovered. Ralph McLaughlin, the chief economist for Trulia, indicates that only one-third of all homes have been able to go back to the prices they held before the recession. The other 66 percent can expect to reach those same levels by 2025. If one was to neglect data from an outlet like Trulia and only focus on Case-Shiller’s index, they would expose themselves to wrong interpretations masked by positive numbers.

Regardless of the discrepancies between the levels of optimism shown by Trulia and Case-Shiller’s index, one thing stands – the country is moving in the right direction when it comes to the housing industry. Even if only one in three homes is back at its pre-recession prices, this is a clear sign that the economy is getting better and negative outliers could be neglectable soon. For example, the following data can be treated as a bottom line prediction for where the United States is headed:

  • Number of large cities that have seen positive changes to home prices: 17 out of 20
  • Number of large cities that experienced home price reductions lately: 3 out of 20

Importantly, the aforementioned only applies to monthly levels. When looking at those same 20 cities, every single one of them has seen positive movement in home prices on an annual level. Thus, 100 percent of the sample size analyzed by Case-Shiller’s Index is doing better yearly, while 85 percent is even doing better monthly.

No doubt, Trulia and its chief economist Ralph McLaughlin have a great point when it comes to holding people culpable and not letting anyone get overly excited. Nevertheless, the momentum that the housing market now holds might prove to be just enough to bring back the prices from 2006 or 2007.