• 21 hours Is A Global Currency Necessary?
  • 2 days America Has Shed 500,000 Millionaires Since The Coronavirus Lockdown Began
  • 2 days Trump Wants Another $2 Trillion Economic Intervention
  • 3 days The Surprising Businesses Deemed “Essential” During The Coronavirus Lockdown
  • 3 days Priceless Van Gogh "Spring Garden" Painting Stolen
  • 3 days Oil Falls To $20 For First Time In Nearly Two Decades
  • 3 days COVID-19 Could Be The End Of U.S. Coal
  • 4 days How Much Does Your Social Security Number Cost? $4 On The Dark Web
  • 5 days Silver Stocks Have Been Decimated In The Coronavirus Sell-Off
  • 6 days How Blockchain Tech Could Make Mergers And Acquisitions More Efficient
  • 6 days America’s Shortage Of This Metal Keeps Trump Up At Night
  • 7 days Bidet Bonanza: Defying The Toilet Paper Shortage
  • 7 days U.S. Auto Sales Fall By 75%
  • 8 days Violating Quarantine? Big Brother Is Watching
  • 8 days Does Gold Still Have Some Room To Run?
  • 8 days Major Acquisition Gives The World’s First Green Ride-Share Another Edge
  • 9 days U.S. Pushes For Digital Currency For Immediate Stimulus
  • 9 days The Impossible Challenges Created By Growing Population
  • 9 days Gold Skyrockets After Fed Pledges "Unlimited" Cash To Boost Economy
  • 10 days World’s Richest Lose $1 Trillion In Stock Market Rout
What's Behind The Global EV Sales Slowdown?

What's Behind The Global EV Sales Slowdown?

An economic slowdown in many…

How The Ultra-Wealthy Are Using Art To Dodge Taxes

How The Ultra-Wealthy Are Using Art To Dodge Taxes

More freeports open around the…

John Rubino

John Rubino

John Rubino edits DollarCollapse.com and has authored or co-authored five books, including The Money Bubble: What To Do Before It Pops, Clean Money: Picking Winners…

Contact Author

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Bad -- But Better Than What's Coming

Talk about diminished expectations. This morning's estimate of 1.4% Q4 GDP growth is being hailed as a pleasant surprise. Which is odd, considering that for most of the past century a number this low would have been seen as weak enough to require emergency action.

And that's just the headline number. Dig a little deeper and the picture -- at least when viewed through a non-Keynesian lens -- is of a system in crisis. Consider:

Corporate profits are, as today's Bloomberg puts it, sliding.

Sliding Corporate Profits

Meanwhile (also from Bloomberg),

A firm labor market and low inflation encourage households to keep shopping. Today's fourth-quarter growth figure reflected more spending on services, particularly on recreation and transportation. "It's really U.S. consumers who are powering the global economy forward at this point," said Gus Faucher, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh.

But if companies are earning less money, how likely is it that they'll step up hiring going forward? Not very. And since today fewer Americans have full time jobs than in 2007 (making the current stellar 4.9% unemployment rate look like a cruel joke) a new round of mass layoffs will make the job market even more dire for anyone hoping to support a family with full-time work.

"If profits remain depressed, the prospects for capex and hiring will come under greater pressure," Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote in a research note.

What are the chances of profits remaining depressed? Pretty good, considering that two of the big growth drivers of the past few years have been student debt and car loans. The former is, as everyone by now knows, at levels that consign a whole generation of kids to life in their parents' basements -- not a recipe for robust consumption.

Car loans, meanwhile, are starting to look like subprime mortgages circa 2006:

Unpaid subprime car loans hit 20-year high

(CNN Money) - Americans with lower credit scores are falling behind on auto payments at an alarming pace.

The rate of seriously delinquent subprime car loans soared above 5% in February, according to Fitch Ratings. That's worse than during the Great Recession and the highest level since 1996.

It's a surprising development given the relative health of the overall economy. Fitch blames it on a dramatic rise in loans with lax borrowing standards that have helped fuel the recent boom in auto sales. More Americans bought new cars last year than ever before and the amount of auto loans soared beyond $1 trillion.

Fitch points out that the subprime end of the market is where there's increased competition to peddle loans. The ratings firm flagged an increase in loans to "borrowers with no FICO scores," lower downpayments, and extended term lending.

Toss in contracting global trade, turmoil in Europe and Latin America, and a grinding multi-month decline in US manufacturing output and the year ahead doesn't look any better. Here's the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow measure of current growth, which shows a huge drop in just the past month:

GDPNow

What does all this mean? Very simply, if you borrow too much money life gets harder and the things that used to work stop working. For a country, lower interest rates no longer induce businesses and individuals to borrow and spend, and government deficits no longer translate directly into more full-time private sector jobs. Growth slows, voters get mad, politics gets crazy, and generally bad times ensue. The only question is why this is a surprise to the people whose choices brought us to the edge of the abyss.

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment