If you’re like most people living paycheck to paycheck, you have a simple problem at the end of the month – not enough cash. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about here – it’s a common problem that is faced by a large number of families as the economic recovery struggles on.
But if you’re an S&P 500 company, you may have a different problem – too much cash. Not precisely too much cash on hand, that is, since that’s never a problem. You may have something like cash sitting around somewhere in the world that you have trouble bringing home to make use of the way you want to.
Therein lies the problem with this economy – not that there isn’t enough to go around, but that it isn’t going around.
Though the stock market is hitting new highs, many people are less than impressed. It’s commonly believed that the Federal Reserve’s $85B per month spending on mortgage backed bonds is all that is holding things up more than reality. That was backed by the big rally after Bernanke announced the program (aka QE3) would not “taper” in the near future, but continue.
But the truth is that corporate profits are at levels that they have never been before, meaning that there is underlying value in the stock market that is driving the rise. More importantly, corporate profit margins (profit over gross revenues) are also at unknown highs. It points to not only how we get out of the job shortage that is the reason the Fed keeps buying, but also the most obvious ways to close the budget deficit – and gives a little more definition to the boomtimes that probably like ahead in the 2020s.
If you’re a fan of NFL football, you know that the fourth quarter is when all the action comes in most games. The teams that win consistently are the teams that get tougher in the last 15 minutes week after week. The economy is no different, relying on the holiday season to make or break any given year.
Last year, Hurricane Sandy made for a wet and limp holiday season. There are many good reasons to believe that 2013 will be much better – except, of course for the government shutdown. We don’t know where that will leave us until long after it’s over. But as we check in with Barataria’s predictions for the year we can get some idea where we stand heading into the critical last quarter.
Except, of course, for the final unemployment stats. But let’s check out what we can and see how we stand for now.