One Foot in Front of the Other

In a steady crunching beat over crispy snow it’s one foot after the other. Head down to measure every step for solid footing before the next careful crunch. There’s nothing but grey sky tinkled with flakes if you bothered to look ahead anyway. Most of the US has experienced that this December, but the economy has been doing that for at least four years now. And like a brisk and noisy walk through the cold eventually you find that you have actually gotten somewhere.

Along with the blustering weather news that has dominated this month there has been a lot of good economic news. Most recently the growth in GDP for the third quarter came in at a rosy warm 4.1%.. The National Retail Federation tells us that the holiday retail season is indeed going to come in with an impressive 3.9% growth over 2012, the high end of predictions. But not everyone thinks the future is so bright. It’s worth running down the reasons for both naughty and nice economic news for next year.

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How ya doin’? It might be a simple question from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe it’s someone closer who is worried about you and trying not to be obvious about it. But if you’re in the business of gauging consumer confidence, it’s a very serious question. And every month two different groups ask the question of 500 to 3,000 people just to see how we, the consumers of the US, are doin’.

The answer overall is that for all the asking and telling it’s amazingly hard to tell. Both the Conference Board and the University of Michigan / Reuters groups that do the surveys found October and November to be big downers, but the latter tells us there was a big rebound in early December. It’s difficult to say why, so the professionals that have to explain it are scrambling. Like so many important indicators there is both good news and bad. Let’s try to sort it out.

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How Good Will It Be?

The economy is indeed getting stronger – and is probably setting itself up for the best holiday season since the big downturn in six years.  That’s a strong statement to make five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 which set off the worst recession and second slowest recovery since the Great Depression.  But there is every reason to believe that 2013 is indeed going to be the year that everything turned around – and by mid 2014 we will have recovered all the jobs lost since the downturn started.

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At the Break, Hometown Team Leads

How is that recovery going for you?  Overall, the first quarter of 2013 has been a decent one.  Nothing is moving very quickly, but we are seeing progress.  It’s time to check back on the predictions Barataria made for the year and see how we are doing.

Back at the start of the year, it seemed as if the recovery had something to prove.  2012 was not a bad year, but it was only the foundation of a recovery.  A little bit of faith that things were getting better certainly had  a lot to do with Obama winning re-election, among other things.  But 2013 is indeed shaping up to be the year the recovery starts to seem real.

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Keep it Going!

The parties are over, and we got through the New Year and the Inaugural.  Everyone in Washington is back at work and ready to make great things happen.

Not so fast.  A lot has happened since the start of 2009, a convenient time to look back over the economy for a lot of reasons.  It was the start of Obama’s presidency, but more importantly it was when the financial collapse triggered by the fall of Lehman Brothers really hit the economy in general.  It was the start of final phase of this Depression.  So how are we doing?

It’s worth looking back if for no other reason than to make a few predictions – or at least know what to look for in 2013.  Let’s break it down.

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