In usual fashion, Wall Street's economists have missed the boat!
Yesterday morning, the latest survey of business economists conducted by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) revealed that the number of economists who now expect the U.S. to fall into a recession next year almost doubled over the past two months.
Although the majority of economists surveyed still expect the economy to expand in 2008, survey participants lowered their estimates for both job and profit growth. More than two-thirds of the economists polled said the chance of recession was at least 25 percent.
In the current quarter ending Dec. 31 of this year, those economists expect economic growth to slow to an annual pace of 1.5 percent. That equates to a year-over-year rate of 2.4 percent.
As you can see in the chart above, economic growth has slowed considerably since June 2004. Yet, most of the regular financial TV pundits have repeatedly told investors over the past few months that the U.S. economy is in good shape and that there's nothing to worry about.
They've also claimed that U.S. exports will continue to rise, largely as a result of rapid economic growth in China, India and numerous other emerging economies. According to these so-called "experts," expanding exports will enable the U.S. economy to continue expanding at a "healthy rate" in 2008.
I've yet to hear any of these "experts" mention the fact that only a very small percentage of total U.S. exports goes to any of the world's emerging economies.
Nor do they mention that economic growth in the countries to which the U.S. exports the largest amounts of its goods — Mexico, Canada, Japan, and Germany — has slowed over the past few quarters.
Why, one may ask, are these well-educated economists so late in recognizing what most clear-thinking everyday consumers are able to grasp much earlier?
The answer is really quite simple —– they are trained to analyze data in the past, rather than to look into the future. As a result, even the most well-intentioned of these economists tend to be of little value to investors.
Worse yet, most Wall Street economists end up being nothing more than cheerleaders who often steer investors in the wrong direction by persuading them to buy "cheap" stocks when they should be exiting the equities market.
Even those economists who earn their degrees from the most prestigious educational institutions often miss the boat in their analysis because they are taught, primarily, to analyze only macroeconomics — big picture data.
As a result, they often overlook other important data. For example, they rarely (if ever) review companies' financial operating results. If they were to analyze such data, they might recognize that FedEx, the second-largest U.S. parcel shipper, recently cut its profit forecast for this quarter and the full year because of weakening demand for freight shipments.
They might also have noticed that Lowe's, the second-largest home-improvement retailer, cut its earnings forecast yesterday for the second time in two months, following a 10 percent drop in quarterly profit.
They might also pay attention when proven, billionaire investors like Warren Buffett sell their positions in key sectors of the economy, Just last week, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sold its investment positions in Union Pacific, the biggest U.S. railroad, and Norfolk Southern, the fourth-largest railroad.
So, as I've stated on numerous occasions in the past, you might want to stop listening to these "experts" and to instead regularly read our MoneyNews articles. Our goal is to keep you informed as to what's really happening in the economy and to help you profit, whether stocks are going up or down.
Click here if you'd like to stay abreast of my latest economic analysis and to learn about the wonderful world of investing in ETFs.
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