Omigod! It is like spotting the robins romping in the snow. We can see a few glimmerings of hope in this economy. Mainstream media will miss them or ignore them, but they are there.
One is that one of the car companies reports pickup sales are pickin’ up. It has re-hired a bunch of workers to churn up production to meet the growing demand.
Another glimmering is that housing figures have begun to improve. Especially the sales of existing houses.
Meanwhile, retail sales moved up one percent last month. Barely anyone expected this. This is the first increase in seven months. Sales of all sorts of merchandise increased. Sales of cars increased.
Another hopeful sign came with unemployment data. The number of people signing up for unemployment went down. Also a surprise.
Don’t dig out the party hats. Happy days are not here again. Nor is Spring, for you robin watchers. Not yet. We know unemployment figures will probably get worse, for instance. So many big companies have been laying off.
I don’t know about you. But in spite of another 3 feet of snow and zero temperatures I still welcome the sight of the robins.
Why are we seeing these glimmerings? After all, our economy is on the express train to Armageddon. Or so some politicians tell us. The banks are busted. The car companies are nearly kaput. Housing company execs spend their workdays playing cards. How can we possibly be seeing a few hopeful signs?
Let us think about that. Let us remember. Way back last fall. Remember when earlier stimulus packages sent out checks to millions of folks? The folks were supposed to spend the money and fire up the economy. A lot of them deposited the money into their bank accounts and decided to wait things out.
A lot of them stopped their spending and started saving big time. Our savings rate has soared. Americans are sitting on their wallets and purses. Which have been growing fatter.
In other words, there is a reason why Americans may be starting to spend money. They have saved a lot of it.
Clearly the new stimulus package has not affected spending yet. It will be many months and many years before all that government spending trickles into the economy.
Ah, but maybe people are feeling better? They like our new president. He makes them feel good. He got the stimulus package through. And that means the government is “doing something”. Which makes some people feel better. So much better that they are beginning to spend again? Is this a possibility?
Sure. A very real possibility.
Are there other reasons why these glimmerings should appear? One is as big as a mountain. Gas and heating oil prices.
The amount of money people have received from lower gas and heating oil prices is greater than the money in the checks they got last fall. And it keeps on coming. Americans are collecting the equivalent of a nice pay increase.
So, prices have fallen all around them. Prices have fallen for houses, mortgages, clothing, food, travel, appliances, cars and pickups and more. While lower gas prices have put more money into their pockets. More money plus lower prices. That combo can work wonders.
Now, if we could just get more optimism and less talk about catastrophes out of Washington, maybe we can start to recover.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
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