The pieces keep falling into place.
- A JPMorgan forecast reported yesterday calls for corporate earnings to decline through this year, pulling down the stock market and, of course, the value of a lot of retirement accounts.(1)
- Federal data published today shows that retail sales fell in December. Excluding autos, sales were down almost 2% from 2017. If you can’t sell products at the Christmas holidays, when can you sell them?
- Of course we already knew that, give retail layoffs and store closings already announced for this year. Sears may have survived (barely), but overall retail has been ugly.
- As has been widely publicized, auto makers are dropping product lines and shuttering plants, having entered the new year with a glut of unsold inventory.
Of course, we still have the influx of H1-B immigrants, needed to fulfill jobs that most Americans don’t have the education to perform. As bad as things may get here, it’s still better than living in a war zone. We’re not one of those, yet.
Last year, the government was about juicing the economy before the midterm election. This year, there’s no national election and the artificial stimulus isn’t there either. Last year, we worked to build up the deficit to the record $22 trillion we have now. This year, we start having to pay interest on it, and the US credit rating is slipping.
Meanwhile, the government is intent on investing in a border wall that at best might preserve some poverty level jobs for unskilled workers, and probably won’t even do that. The government could be investing in training, reducing the cost of education or forgiving student loans, to help people get on with their lives and get the economy moving. But no, they want a wall.
Of course, at times like these, some people turn to fantasy for rescue — typically historical or religious mythology, but also hatred and bigotry. That doesn’t make anything better, either.
It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s time to hunker down. The rest of 2019 promises to be a really wild ride.
- “ADVANCE MONTHLY SALES FOR RETAIL AND FOOD SERVICES, DECEMBER 2018,” US Census Bureau, press release, February 14, 2019.