The drop in the stock market (now about 1,000 points on the Dow) is a graphic indication of the stark fact that we are entering the infamous double dip of the recession, long feared and predicted.
The economy is not in a V after all (down and then up), but in a W (down, up, down again, and then, finally, up). And the cause of the second dip is not the recession itself, but the cure administered to it by President Obama and the Democratic Congress.
Consider the indications (data provided by the New America Foundation, analysis by Sherle R. Schwenninger and Samuel Sherraden):
• GDP growth has been 2.2 percent, 5.6 percent, and 3.2 percent for each of the last three quarters, well below the rebounds typical in past recessions.
• Total civilian employment has rebounded by only 1 percent since the depth of the unemployment five months ago. In 1973, at a comparable point, it had rebounded by 7 percent. In 1981, by 8 percent. In 1990, by 4 percent. And in 2001 by 3 percent. U-6, the broadest measure of unemployment, stands at 17.1 percent, and we need 12.8 million new jobs.
• Housing prices have dropped by 30 percent since 2006 and "many economists expect housing prices to decline at least another 10 percent," according to Schwenninger and Sherraden.
• While corporate profits are 30.6 percent higher than a year ago, wages are up by 1.6 percent, less than half their rate of increase two years ago.
• Financial-sector profits make up 35.7 percent of all domestic corporate profits. These gains are driven by trading revenue, which does not reflect real economic growth. Schwenninger and Sherraden report, "In the first quarter of 2010, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America earned 72 percent, 45 percent, and 16 percent of their net revenue [respectively] from trading profits."
• Personal savings dropped from a high of almost 6 percent to 2.7 percent in March 2010, so households have cut their debt by just $300 billion since it peaked in 2008. Household debt, which rose from 60 percent of GDP in 1990 to almost 100 percent in 2008, has dropped to 97 percent. It has a long way to go before it's down enough to free consumers to spend more.
• Meanwhile, retail sales have averaged only a 1.7 percent increase over the past three quarters, half of which was to restock inventories. Schwenninger and Sherraden note "in a typical recovery, the rebound is closer to 3.5 percent." And most of that increase is due to expanding government cash transfer payments, which now make up 18.3 percent of personal income. "Excluding transfer payments, personal income increased just 0.3 percent since the third quarter of 2009."
• Stimulus spending, which has failed to generate private-sector growth, is winding down. Only 43 percent of the tax benefits and entitlement spending remain to be doled out, as does 63 percent of the contracts, grants, and loans in the stimulus package.
• The strengthening of the dollar due to the collapse of the euro will dry up U.S. export trade. Exports to EU nations account for 21 percent of American and 20 percent of Chinese exports. Schwenninger and Sherraden note, "A European slowdown will reduce demand for the two primary engines of world economic growth."
But this second downturn in the economy will be accompanied by inflation, making it worse than the first recession. With interest rates set to rise (because the Fed is no longer massively purchasing securities to keep them down), taxes set to go up (because of Obama's ideology), and global energy use about to increase, sending prices higher (because the rest of the world is recovering), prices have to go up. But with no growth in real personal income and household credit close to all-time highs, there is not enough demand to pay the higher prices, so a deeper slump will ensue.
The solution? Cut taxes. And bring down the deficit through massive spending cuts. Reduce our borrowing needs by slashing our spending. Free up capital to feed job growth.
It should be evident to all that Obamanomics is a disaster. It reminds one of nothing so much as the medieval practice of bleeding the patient to make him well by expelling the evil spirits that dwelt within. When the patient did not recover, they just bled him more and, when he died, they just said that the spirits killed him. The practice of spending, borrowing, and then taxing to fuel job growth is the modern analogy.
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann