Archive for the ‘recession’ Category

Fearless economic forecasts

March 10, 2009

Dominique Strauss-Khan

In a warning delivered by IMF Managing Dir. Dominique Strauss-Khan during a conference of African finance ministers and central bank governors, the International Monetary fund (IMF) speaks of the deepening global financial crisis and the possibility that the world’s economic growth will be zero.

The financial meltdown can cause massive suffering, social displacement, and chaos in vulnerable countries.

The effects of the downturn may not be fast in reaching Africa, but Srausse-Khan said, “continued deleveraging by the world’s financial institutions, combined with a collapse in consumer and business confidence, is depressing domestic demand across the world.”—-Philstar (03/10/09)

Warren Buffet

On the other hand, American billionaire Warren Buffet who has the common sense of living “below his means” believes America will bounce back even though “it has fallen off a cliff.” The “Oracle of Omaha” who predicted the worst case scenario in the last 6 months, watches a nation swept with a housing slump, high unemployment, and inflation. He sees lack of confidence, confusion, and fear are defining consumer behavior at this time.—The Washington Times/ AP (03/09/09, Funk J)

Harry S. Dent

Similar gloomy predictions have been made by American economist Harry S. Dent in his book “The Great Depression Ahead : How to Prosper in the Crash Following the Greatest Boom in History.” The book is a good read. He speaks of this year as a bad season—ushering economic turmoil that none of the current generation has seen.

Nouriel Roubini

Nouriel Roubini, professor of NYU’s Stern School of Busicness believes the US recession could last up to 36 months. With no hope of ending the recession this year, “Dr. Doom” said,, “Growth is going to be close to zero and unemployment rate well above 10 percent into next year.”—-CNBC (03/09/09, Wells, J)

Pres. Barack Obama

But President Barack Obama offers bright economic forecasts with his proposed $3.55 trillion budget. He predicts that the economy will shrink by only 1.2%, and will recover in 2010 with a growth of 3.2%. However, non-partisan analysts believe this is overly-optimistic.—McClatchy Newspapers (02/26/09, Hall, K)

The public is less upbeat than Obama, but people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Midway in the 100-day honeymoon period after assuming presidency, he gets a 67% approval rating, a very good grade at this time when Americans are fearful and disconsolate over the financial ruin they are dealing.(Photo Credit: Atsibatsi)=0=

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Who says we are spared from the effects of recession?

February 26, 2009

Presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said the Philippines wasn’t among the Asian countries affected by the worldwide recession. It might be a lie that Malacanang Palace wanted us to believe. He based his conclusion to the non-inclusion of the country in the International Labor Organization (ILO) list which projects 113 million jobs loss in Asia as the world economy continues to falter (Malaya , 02/20/09 Bengco, R.) According to ILO, the expected unemployment number this year will be more than the 22.3 million jobs Asian countries lost in 2008.

It will do us good if we look closely at the data Golez is referring to before we celebrate. We aren’t that trusting anymore. The effects of the financial meltdown are just beginning to show. It is foolhardy for him and the government he represents to assume that we aren’t affected.

The unemployment we see in the street is a better gauge than the assurances of government officials. We see what food we eat and what clothes we wear. Most of us are familiar of the signs of chronic job loss and their aftermath. The employment stagnation in the country is long-standing and antedates the global economic meltdown.

5,500 OFWs lose jobs—–Arroyo

“Some 5,500 Filipino overseas workers have lost their jobs abroad and returned home over the past four months, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Thursday. The Department of Labor announced earlier this week that 39,000 Filipinos had lost their jobs since October, a number which included overseas workers.”—Agence France-Presse/ Inquirer (02/26/09)

Foreign companies are pulling out their business operations in Manila. Unemployment among fresh graduates continues to rise. There is pervasive underemployment and lay-offs. The rush for jobs abroad doesn’t abate even if applicants downgrade their qualifications just to grab work even if it is risky and suffers from inadequate pay. With a bearish investment climate, people are afraid to shell out money that stir spending and growth. The number of impoverished Filipinos continues to rise.

Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s job creation is too little to assuage the fear and anger of the public. The government projects that are quick-disbursing, high-impact, and labor intensive (according to Management Dir. Hermogenes Esperon) don’t come close to reality when one sees the widespread unemployment, poverty, and corruption in the country. That’s why we rely early on ourselves more than depend on announced legislated measures by the administration. (Photo Credits: Slavishtubesocks; JRIOrion)=0=

3,000 IT & 10,000 semiconductor jobs at risk

At least 3,000 information technology (IT) jobs are at risk in first quarter alone while 10,000 positions in semiconductor industry could be shed during the first half of the year due to the global economic slump.”—GMANewsTV (02/28/09)

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Obama psyches the Americans of grim economic times

January 8, 2009

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been affected by the financial crisis caused by the meltdown of business in America. The most pitiful are the people who honestly saved and invested only to find out their portfolio has failed. They don’t have the luxury of youth and time to recoup the loss.

Those who rely on fixed income may find themselves without money if retirement and pension don’t pay. The jobless and hungry are easily agitated. Economic hardship is a perfect recipe for social unrest. With the public’s high expectations on the new administration, it’s dangerous if Barack Obama fails.

Barely two weeks before Obama is to be inaugurated as president, his campaign promises don’t jibe well with the gloomy realities of the times. His dire warnings prepare the spooked public of the bumpy road ahead. Spending is needed more than what the government originally told the people.

Obama can only say in grim and gray terms on how he’ll solve the economic problem, but he doesn’t give specifics. The cost of the stimulus package he asks the congress on Thursday, January 8, 2009 hasn’t been determined, but experts say it should not be more than $1 trillion dollars. The federal budget deficit is huge and critics warn of deeper pain if the government shoulder the money woes of private entrepreneurs.

There’s no guarantee that the bail-out of the banking system, the auto manufacturers, and housing industry will work. The economy is rife with dreary predictions of worsening unemployment, bankruptcies,and unrelenting housing slump. Americans are confused and want transparency in the transactions which put their life savings and taxes in line.

At a Glance, January 8, 2009:

540,000 unemployed projected for Jan. ’09 (up from 492,000 in Dec. ’08)
4.5 million workers on unemployment aid
2.4 million jobs lost in 2008
1.2 trillion dollars Federal Budget deficit
1 trillion dollars—estimated stimulus package needed

As of January 8, 2009, the joblessness is expected to have risen from 492,000 to 540,000 based on the number of newly-laid off people seeking state unemployment aid. The approximate number of workers taking unemployment benefits is at 4.5 million, many of whom are finding hard to get jobs.

Assuming that 500,000 additional jobs have been lost last month, it is estimated that at least 2.4 million jobs disappeared in 2008. Business downsizing and closures continue. The trend will be more elucidated on Friday, January 9, 2009 when the Department of Labor releases the most current employment report. The federal budget deficit is expected to reach $1.2 trillion this year, about 3X bigger than the previous year.

Like most Americans, I want Obama to succeed. Casting away politics, I feel it’s in our interest that the economy bounces back on its track. Yet, the public is suspicious and worried; their confidence is at its deepest low. In spite of bipartisan support, many aren’t optimistic that a quick recovery will come. Obama is asking for more government infusion of money, a stage for a possible run-away spending that isn’t in his “change” and “yes, we can” campaign plan.

The uncertainty which fuels this lack of confidence is magnified by the ugly economic picture. Even if the public keeps quiet, the cultural and social environment which made the people endure and outlast the Great Depression in the 1930’s might be slipping away— at worst, it might be nonexistent. Today’s Americans belong to a different generation of innovators. Whether the values of trust, honesty, and fair play have been eroded to impair recovery, nobody seems confident to answer.

There’s real fear as there’s hope. But many are shocked that the rules of governance and citizenship are quickly being changed to suit a social agenda whose end they don’t know. They aren’t used to live in poverty or be dictated upon on how they will use their money. Even if they pride themselves of resiliency, industry, and independence, the overall picture isn’t good. (Photo Credit: bscott2007)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Dr. Doom’s economic crystal ball & the need to say the truth”
Posted by mesiamd at 10/30/2008

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Longer recession blues as more jobs are lost in USA

December 5, 2008

As the first week of December ends, Americans are bracing for bleaker economic news today as the report of joblessness from last November will be released by the Labor Department.

From October’s 6.5%, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to about 6.8% as more pink slips for laid-off workers, estimated to be about 320,000, are issued as the Christmas holiday closes in.

“Just in recent days, household names like AT&T Inc., DuPont, JPMorgan Chase & Co., as well as jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., and mining company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. announced layoffs.”—AP (12/05/08, Aversa, J)

It is said that since the start of the year 1.2 million jobs have been lost. It is feared that this can further aggravate the financial woes being suffered by the three big US auto companies: General Motors Corp (GM,) Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co.

Partly due to confusion, anger, and lack of knowledge, ordinary Americans are divided if bail outs of these companies are the solution to the problem. Capitol Hill is still weighing in whether to give the $34 billion asked for by the auto industry managers for their company’s survival.

The guarantee of tax-payers’ money to rescue these failing companies are the last that Americans want, but they seem to have little options. With a national debt of about $10.7 trillion dollars, America still talks big about money and spending. There are those who have been not been roused to the reality that the economy is truly in bad shape.

But, the conscientious public is thinking whether the nation can afford the extravagance, greed, and recklessness its leaders and citizens have been used to. In spite of assurances, the competence and ethical integrity of those running America are now being questioned. The issue of confidence in the American system is causing ripples in business circles worldwide.

As predicted by many business analysts, USA is likely to be stuck for a long haul in a deep recession whose post-war average duration is 10 months, the longest at 16 months. This December marks the 12th month of the current recession whose existence has been muddled for sometime by economic experts until just recently.

At the disclosure of the recession, President-elect Barack Obama announces a 2.5 million job generation plan which may cost the government $500 billion to finance. The staggering amount make the ordinary citizens dizzy as the new administration is headed for a glittery inaugural bash in January 20, 2009.

Confidence on America’s leaders has been under the cloud of doubt since the down-turn of the stock market and the failure of banking and housing industries. Next comes the the auto industry. The fall-out of these economic troubles to the world in spite of optimistic assurances isn’t completely known, but many are hurting and many more are going to be hurt. (Photo Credits: wwww.fortunewatch.com) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Mr. Fix & the tall challenge to keep USA & the world to believe that we can quickly come out of the financial mess” Posted by mesiamd at 11/22/2008; “Like Filipinos, Americans Have Money Troubles Too!” Posted by mesiamd at 7/16/2008

Mr. Fix & the tall challenge to keep USA & the world to believe that we can quickly come out of the financial mess

November 21, 2008

It is said that when a new president gets elected in the United States, Wall Street gets exuberant and the market becomes cocky. Renewed confidence and optimism bring an upward trend in stocks trading in America and the rest of the world. The upward trend hasn’t happened in President-elect Barack Obama, the Mr. Fix expected by many to deliver the world from this troubling economic mess.

Since the Great Depression (1930’s to the 1940’s,) America suffers from the worst financial downturn. On Friday, November 21, 2008, on midday trading, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJI) tumbled 67.47 points further, or 0.89 percent, to 7,484.82. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX) lost 8.85 points, or 1.18 percent, to 743.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) was down 17.82 points, or 1.35 percent, at 1,298.30.

In spite of the $700 billion bailout, the market continues to slide. With the public confused of what is going on, economic planners need more money for bailouts to keep the economy on track and stable.

There are those who seriously doubt whether this will work as instability and business losses continue. Financial leaders like Ben Shalom Bernanke of the Federal Reserve and Henry Paulson of the Treasury have a short window period to work on before the full blown effects of the crisis appear early next year.

Joblessness at 6.5%, the highest since 1994, is expected to top 8.5% in 2009. It feeds the fire of uncertainty, raising doubts on the usefulness of helping the floundering US auto and banking industry.

More business close-downs are feared. The housing market has almost screeched into a halt leaving many homes in foreclosures. American auto manufacturers brace for bankrupcies. The public is spooked by advisories of store closings. Americans are angered and worried.

The usual honeymoon period given to an incoming administration may not last long as the impatient public can’t wait for the magical fruition of Obama’s promise during the campaign. A scramble to form a government cabinet to help the new president shows signs of old hands from the Clinton administration which make people to ask if it’s the same traditional politics that will be at play. Without guarantee of success, there is palpable anxiety over leaders with checkered past trying to reprogram the nation’s socio-economic direction.

Obama is in a bind. There is a growing belief that the recession will last longer than what has been experienced in recent history. Some are thinking that it can grow worse to precipitate the hapless conditions of the Great Depression. Though not much can be done by individual US citizens to prevent the worse, sensible measures like focusing on one’s job, belt-tightening in personal finance, and deciding wisely on investment strategies are recommended.

Global economies are suffering. The American sniffle has worsened and spread into a global pneumonia whose end result is basically unknown. A protracted economic malady is likely to bring instability and stagnation. It makes civil unrest and chaos more likely particularly in the poor countries where hunger is common.

Meanwhile, the public overwhelmingly craves that Obama comes victorious in reversing the ugly course of business. How best he can do it is subject to debate and entails vigilant waiting. While he prepares for his inauguration in January, Americans gripped with worry need to give him time and the benefit of the doubt. (Photo Credits: JSDart)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Dr. Doom’s economic crystal ball & the need to say the truth” Posted by mesiamd at 10/30/2008

Layaway comes back

October 25, 2008

As a sign of difficult times brought about by the financial crisis, stores in America like K Mart, Marshalls, T J Maxx etc. are going back to the payment practice of layaway, a departure from the convenient credit card that modern-day Americans are used to. Lending institutions are tightening their borrower’s rules and store customers may use layaway to buy their favorite gifts for this coming Christmas.

Layaway plans aren’t free — most stores charge a fee for setting aside the merchandise, and ask for a down payment. Kmart requires customers to pay a $5 service fee and a $10 cancellation fee upfront, or put down 10% of the item’s cost, whichever is greater. Customers must make biweekly payments over eight weeks to pay the balance. In case of default, the item goes back into stock and the customer receives a refund, minus the $15.” Wall Street; Yahoo Finance (10/22/08, Bustillo, M.)

Layaway was popular in the Great Depression when credit crunch drove Americans to pay installments for merchandise to buy. It is again an option now that affordability and money have suddenly become scarce. Certainly, USA isn’t as different as different as Philippines when economic bad times strike. (Photo Credits: Crocidillicus.com; USCredit)=0=

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Increased suicide risk for white middle-aged Americans & the pessimism in time of recession

October 22, 2008

A research study covering the period of 1999 to 2005, shows a striking change in the demographics of suicide risk. From the records of the National Center for Health Statistics it is revealed that there is a sharp increase in the number of white middle-aged women who commit suicide compared to men.

To appear in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the report of Guoing Hu, PhD of Central South University in Changsha, China and Susan Baker, MPH of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has the following salient findings:

1. The suicide rate for white women 40-64 years old went up 3.9% per year during the study period.
2. The suicide rate among white men in the same age group increased 2.7% per year.
3. Overall suicide rates went up for whites — 1.1% per year. Suicide rates went down significantly for African-Americans — 1.1% per year.
4. Suicide rates remained stable for Asian and Native Americans.” —WebMed Health News (10/21/08, Colihan K, Chang, L. M.D.)

Because the exact reason for the increase in suicide in this period is unclear, Baker urges a review of the social changes that could drive more middle-aged persons to end their life. She says the new findings may help in the reorientation of mental health programs which focus on teenagers, young adult, and white middle-aged men, traditionally thought to belong to the high risk groups.

To guard against suicide, the authors suggest the following: learn new coping or problem-solving skills, adhere to cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide; develop strong support from the family and community members, and seek high quality treatment for mental or physical disorders or addictions.

Culled from data before the recent economic downturn, the report comes at a time when negativities and pessimism among Americans are high and on the rise. AFP (10/21/08.) Greater vigilance therefore against depression and suicide must be done as financial problems cause uncertainty, anger, and anxiety. (Photo Credit: by Coolcolonia4711; Laserbread)=0=