Sunday, October 19, 2008

Slowdown or recession?

"The US is plunging into a nasty recession with a lot of suffering to come even if policy makers succeed in unfreezing the credit markets” quipped Mr. Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for economics and Professor of Princeton University and New York Times columnist in an interview. He referred the situation as “baked in” and continued to add that there was a lot of downward momentum and put the unemployment rate at 7per cent, the highest figure in the past five years. The chances of the US economy falling into recession intensified with the report that retail sales had fallen for the three straight months.
What is the difference between recession and slowdown?
Many people mistake economic slowdown for recession. However, textbooks define recession as a period of two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s GDP and is expected to last anywhere between six and eighteen months. Economic slowdown on the other hand is just a slower growth in economic activities. The impact of economic slowdown may affect particular sectors whereas recession will have a wide ranging impact on most of the industries.
What is the source of concern?
It all started with sub-prime crisis in the US and the reasons for the crisis are now known to everyone. It has resulted in fall in real estate prices across US as home loans were foreclosed and the starting price of many of the properties started with an asking price of $1.99. Many important things that followed suit included the fall of Lehman brothers and with a concomitant fall in the value of Dow Jones and NASDAQ to 29 per cent till this day.
I live outside the US and am I safe?
The international economy has become like a single family because of globalization and the interdependent nature of each sector. That is the reason why when US sneezes, the rest of the nations suffer from cold. It may sound like a joke but it is true because the US is the single largest producer of natural resources. Whenever the crude skyrockets, the impact will be felt more by the Asian tigers like China and India. So, it is not a question where do you live but you are affected by the slowdown in one way or other.
Be prepared for that and fasten your seat belt.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

At last, the Wall Street bailout materialized!

The bill passed by the Congress on Friday to bail out the ailing financial institutions at a cost of $700 billion has given the much needed relief to one and all and will help to reduce the panic in the global stock markets. It is expected when the government steps into the blood bath, the bleeding in the market will hopefully stop.
But wait… Don’t jump in happiness and there is a lot to do to lift the ailing US economy and in turn the global economy. What can you expect from the passage of the bill?
Stock Markets
A cooling in the nerves of the stock market is expected in the days to come along with the return in the confidence of the investors. The markets are expected to be less volatile but with the cooling global economy and lower profits for the American multinational companies will have a negative impact on the growth of stock markets.
The banks are safe. The bill makes it clear that depositors need not worry about their hard earned money because the amount of deposits covered by the FDIC is increased from $100,000 to $250,000 and there is no need to get scared even if the banks fail. The recession is already on and the economic downturn will add oil to the already burning fire.
A latest estimate says that the job cut is 159,000 in the month of September and is the worst in the last five years. The picture in the coming months is not rosy either and more job cuts are expected forcing the customers to be spendthrift, deepening the gloom. The major sector that contributes to the US growth, the auto industry is deep in trouble and its sales in September touched the lowest point in the last 15 years.
Tax relief?
The ordinary US citizen can expect a lesser tax relief than expected because of the bailout package. But there is good news in that the tax won’t be raised because the sale of the troubled securities would yield dividends to finance the extra burden. The loans advanced by the banks to consumers will become scarce, let it be for car, home, credit card purchase or vacations.
But homeowners have the option to renegotiate their loans with the bank but time only will judge how effective these measures are?