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US & World Economy –

Animal spirits are back! With Europe in a mild but stable recession, China on an upswing, US housing starts and prices rising (Case Shiller Index up 8.1% over the last 12 months ending in January – best since 2006), and the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both making new all-time highs, consumers and businesses alike are feeling better. Consider these new economic levels:  the stock market at new highs from 2007, S&P 500 quarterly earnings at new highs, US household net-worth at a new high ($69 trillion vs. $67 trillion), and household debt service to income ratios at a 30 year low (J.P. Morgan).

US & World Economy –

The world breathed a sigh of relief after the recent Fiscal Cliff vote and all of us are happy to remove that phrase from our vocabulary. The US economy is in good shape to absorb the changes to the taxes and likely debt ceiling outcome (more on that below) and according to most economists, should grow at 1.5 – 2.2% in 2013. In other words, more of the same slow growth we have experienced for the past couple of years. Regardless, a serious cloud has been lifted and businesses can now plan with greater confidence. In addition, China’s economy and US housing starts are building strength and will help the economy this year. While there is always something to worry about, the scope of our problems have become smaller over the last few years.

US & World Economy –

While the US economy continues to slowly grow, all eyes are on the election and the 2013 “fiscal cliff”. Job growth has stalled and productivity per employee has little room to grow. We seem to be treading water with Europe’s recession pulling us down and a slightly faster growing Asia pulling us up.  Corporate cash holdings are at high levels as businesses continue to be cautious. The wait is almost over.

US & World Economy –

Weak second quarter job growth and earnings have dominated recent headlines. After a healthy 226,000 per month average job growth in the first quarter of 2012, a measly 80,000 jobs per month were added in the second quarter of 2012 – stalling the decline in the unemployment rate (currently 8.2%). Corporate earnings growth is also slowing. Combined with the start of a recession in Europe, this resulted in a strengthening dollar and weak commodities. The price of oil dropped, despite the continued rumbling from Iran. Add the continuing drama from Greece and Spain and you end up with heightened volatility in the financial markets and lack of confidence from investors.

US & World Economy –

What a difference a few months can make! Last year’s fears of double-dip recessions and Greek tragedies have given way to large job growths (636,000 job gains in the first quarter), improved investor confidence, and the best first quarter for the S&P 500 in 14 years (up 12.6%). The question is will this growthcontinue or peter out like it did after the spring gains in 2011 and 2010? With a large Band-Aid on Europe, a 7.5% soft landing in China and continued modest growth in the US (2 – 2.5% GDP), we expect the economy and financial markets to churn mostly sideways through the Fall, and not experience the 16-18% mid-year drops of the previous two years.

US & World Economy –

2011 was a wild year for the economy and financial markets. Optimism and continued growth early in the year gave way to fear and double-dip fears in the fall, only to end the year back where we started. (The S&P 500 Index was up 0.003% but the average US Stock fund lost about 3%). The rest of the world did not fair as well: Latin America -22.2%; Europe -15.2%; China -20.2%; India -39.1%. Remarkably, despite continued negative headlines, no country is currently in an announced recession. In fact, worldwide growth appears to have picked up in the forth quarter, especially in the US where auto and retail had their biggest gains in years. The S&P 500 will report not only record earnings, but earnings 15-20% higher than their 2007 peak.

US & World Economy –

The US economic growth stalled over the summer as consumer confidence dropped to a 30 year low amidst the disappointment of watching a nearly nonfunctioning Congress and the first time ever downgrading of our government debt. This has led economic forecasters to increase the likelihood of a recession to 50/50, produced sharply lower worldwide stock prices and reduced earnings estimates. Inflation fears have also receded and interest rates were driven to multi-year lows. All of which has left US consumers a bit shell shocked as they continue to deleverage to shore up home finances and trim spending, while the stock, corporate bond and commodity markets had their worst quarter in almost three years.

US & World Economy-

The US economy, along with much of the world, has been experiencing an easing in the pace of recovery growth. This is common in post-recession rebounds and usually lasts 4-6 months unless accompanied by tightening from the Fed (fortunately, the US Fed is still very accommodating with low short-term interest rates). Recoveries are usually uneven. Our housing market and bank lending industry are the largest laggers inside the country and euro-zone sovereign debt crisis along with China’s inflation/growth fight are the current biggest international concerns. Nevertheless, we continue to slowly grow and the S&P 500 is expected to earn a record $100 per share this year for the first time. California businesses are also recovering and many valuations are back to or nearing all time highs as well.

US Economy-

The US Economy continues to chug along, rising for seventh consecutive quarter, fueled by strong corporate earnings, a long awaited drop in unemployment, renewed consumer confidence and earnest attempts to focus on our out of control budget deficits – all of which caused the stock market to post its best first quarter since 1998 (after a 6.4% pull back, which fit neatly into our last quarter newsletter’s 5-7% pull back forecast). However, the news has not been all good. The CPI rose almost 2% (8% annualized) over the quarter as the dollar continued to fall and commodities, led by oil, rose swiftly. Inflation is heating up around the world and foreign central bankers are starting to raise interest rates. It is only a matter of time before our zero interest rate policy comes to an end.

US Economy-

The economic expansion we had forecast is finally in full swing. Market pundits and economists are continuing to raise GDP and profit expectations for 2011, while the stock market has followed with uninterrupted gains since the major structural shift in the financial markets in early November (see December 3, 2010 update). In fact, investor sentiment may soon get too far ahead of the economy, leaving the stock markets vulnerable to a pull back.