Forecasting a Springtime Pop
At a ripe 33 years of age, I have no right to call myself an old man, even though I always do. That said, a few things have become clearer with age: cereal boxes are constantly shrinking, sleeping in means anything past 7 AM, every healthy day is a good day, and many aspects of life hopelessly mirror the seasons, especially the economy.
Markets often dip in the dog days of summer, as we all get cranky with the prolonged heat and humidity. The economy always looks bright as the holiday shopping season approaches, until Christmas shopping data tames the party. At our present moment, like most years, investors grow impatient as winter lingers longer than wanted.
Supporting my little armchair economic history lesson, the Dow expanded at a solid clip last fall until just before Christmas. Since then, things have been stagnant, with many of the big economic indicators showing softness, with downward revisions in things like job/wage growth, manufacturing and GDP.
American markets rallied after yesterday's Fed statement, followed by another round of positive unemployment data from the Department of Labor showing 291K weekly initial unemployment claims. Not bad at all. Weekly unemployment claims remain at the healthiest point since 2000, and that is amazing for our future prospects.
That number, combined with signs forecasting future wage growth, further softness in energy prices (great for consumers!), a slowly rising housing market that's not overheated and continued weakness abroad (strong dollar) bolsters my feeling that we're going to see a growth spurt in the economy just as spring takes hold and sunshine washes over North America.
I'm just another crotchety fellow following the economy, so take my words with a grain of kosher salt, but I'm thinking our currently soft economy with its "moderated" growth is about to shake off its wintertime clothes, strap on a pair of running shoes and go for a vigorous sprint.