Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Economists Don't See The Recession That Has Already Started

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

A just released survey of 43 mainstream economists polled this month by the AP pegs the chances of the U.S. falling into recession in the next year at only 26% (one in four). As a group, the economists predict the economy will expand by over 2% in the second half of the year. Other news that appeared with the survey results included an article about how food stamp use in the U.S. is skyrocketing - a highly unlikely occurrence during an economic recovery.

When deciding how much credence should be given to the current recession view of the economics profession, investors should consider how accurately they predicted the Great Recession - the worst one since the 1930s. The recession began in December 2007. That same month a survey of 54 mainstream economist was published by Business Week under the title, "A Slower But Steady Economy" (AP could have used the same title for its current survey). How many of these highly-paid top economists realized that the U.S. was in recession?  None, zero, nada, zilch. How many thought that the U.S. was about to experience the worst recession in almost 80 years? None, zero, nada, zilch.
Unless you have reason to believe that establishment economists have been regularly taking handfuls of smart pills in the last three years, it's unlikely that their views are any more accurate today.

Instead of listening to the miss-opinion of mainstream economists constantly being shoveled out by the mainstream media, investors would be wise to look at the hard evidence of what is actually taking place in the economy.  Approximately 46 million Americans (15% of the population) are on food stamps. The number has increased by 74% since 2007. One wonders how big the increase would have been without the economic "recovery" that has supposedly taken place. Many of the people who receive food stamps are employed part-time and sometimes full-time in low paying jobs. If so, they are not part of the unemployment statistics and are considered successful examples of the U.S. pulling itself out of recession.  

Of course having a large part of the country on food-aid is an expensive proposition. How exactly has the U.S. paid for this?  Well, one way is through the approximately $2 trillion in money that the Federal Reserve has printed since 2007. Two trillion dollars of phony money can really juice up an economy. Without it, the GDP would still be in a deep hole from its 2007 levels and the illusion of  economic recovery wouldn't exist. If it turns there's no free lunch after all, the U.S. is going to be hit with a very big inflation bill in the future. Don't expect Fed Chair Ben Bernanke to see this coming though. After all, the Fed remained oblivious to the Great Recession long after it had started. Even in the spring of 2008, their meeting notes indicate that they were still hopeful about avoiding the recession that had begun months before.  

Investors should expect an ongoing stream of articles in the next several weeks or even months about how the U.S. is not going to experience another recession. The stock market is sending a very different message though and even the fluffed up economic statistics the government produces are likely to  look a bit anemic this fall. But don't worry, establishment economists are optimistic as they always are when a recession begins.

Disclosure: None

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. There is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security. Investing is risky and if you don't think you are capable of doing it yourself, seek professional advice.

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