The Week: Most Recent U.S. Economy:The U.S. Recovery recent posts.en-usWed, 06 Feb 2013 07:16:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent U.S. Economy:The U.S. Recovery from THE WEEKWed, 06 Feb 2013 07:16:00 -0500The housing roadblock that could kill the recovery<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The recently-tightened mortgage lending standards have been widely cited for preventing a faster turnaround in the housing market. But the bigger culprit may be the slowdown in construction loans for builders.</p><p>Real estate industry experts and home builders have been warning for nearly a year that the lack of new home construction could slow the housing recovery. That moment may be here. The supply of existing homes for sale in December fell to its lowest level in more than 7 years:&nbsp; 4.4 months worth of homes are for sale at the current pace, according to data from the National Association...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Steve YoderWed, 06 Feb 2013 07:16:00 -0500An austerity program that both Democrats and Republicans can support<img src="" /></P><p>It should be a truth universally acknowledged that America's fiscal deficit requires urgent reduction. It should be, but it isn't. Instead, abetted by the insufferable arrogance of those who claim that the current deficit is a low priority, my generation faces a terrible plight. Like Atlas shouldering the celestial sphere, we will, without action, be left to struggle under an insurmountable burden. Whether to avoid a debt-saddled future or a recession induced by market panic, logic demands that we cut spending now.</p><p>With politics being the art of the possible, we need austerity to win bipartisan...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/tom-rogan" ><span class="byline">Tom Rogan</span></a>Mon, 04 Feb 2013 07:00:00 -0500Why the stock market boom doesn't signal an economic recovery<img src="" /></P><p>The S&amp;P 500 is coming off one of its strongest runs in years.&nbsp;The index enjoyed an eight-day&nbsp;winning streak&nbsp;earlier this month&nbsp;</span><span>that saw it close above 1,500 for the first time since 2007. And the S&amp;P isn't alone.&nbsp;</span><span>All three major indices have come out swinging in 2013, with each up several percentage points since the start of the year.&nbsp;</p><p>But before you pop the champagne and declare 2013 the Year of the Booming Economy, take a breath. Beyond the stock market, the wider U.S. economy still has a whole bunch of problems.</p><p>Sure, rising earnings at publicly listed...</p></span> <a href="">More</a>By Graham WinfreyWed, 30 Jan 2013 14:55:00 -0500The miserable GDP report: Is the economy in trouble again?<img src="" /></P><p>The U.S. economy stumbled badly in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Commerce Department, which reported on Wednesday that GDP shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent, compared with 3.1 percent growth in the third quarter. It is the first time since the second quarter of 2009 &mdash; when President Obama was just starting his first term, and the labor market was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs per month &mdash; that the economy has contracted. By all accounts, the miserable report came as a shock to economists, with most predicting at least some growth in the fourth quarter.</p>... <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Wed, 30 Jan 2013 10:25:00 -0500How investing in infrastructure could reduce our long-term debt<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Suppose we could enhance our long-run growth prospects, reduce our long-term unemployment problem, and reduce our expected future debt at the same time. Would that be a policy worth pursuing?&nbsp;</p><p>Infrastructure spending in an economy such as ours, one with high and persistent unemployment and considerable infrastructure needs, has these features. It puts people to work on projects that promote economic growth &mdash; economic growth is one of the best ways to reduce the long-run debt burden &mdash; and money spent on infrastructure maintenance and repair saves us money in the long-run.</p><p>How...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Mark ThomaTue, 29 Jan 2013 15:50:00 -0500The Fed's historic bid to lower the jobless rate<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The Federal Reserve has come a long way since the days of former Chairman Alan Greenspan, who used to be an expert practitioner of Fedspeak, a dialect (only remotely related to English) that befuddles mere mortals with its utter inscrutability. His successor, Ben Bernanke, has pledged to make the Fed's intentions more transparent, and on Wednesday he made good on that promise, with the central bank announcing that it would keep its benchmark interest rate target at ultra-low levels until the unemployment rate dropped below 6.5 percent or the inflation rate topped 2.5 percent. <strong>It is the first time...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Wed, 12 Dec 2012 16:55:00 -0500The surprisingly solid jobs report -- and how it strengthens Obama's hand in the fiscal cliff talks<img src="" /></P><p>The Labor Department on Friday reported that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, and that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest level since December 2008. The labor market's performance was far better than expected, with most analysts projecting a deeper economic fallout from Hurricane Sandy, which battered the East Coast in late October, bringing economic activity in some areas grinding to a halt for much of early November. That the economy could literally weather the storm with relative ease is just the latest evidence that the agonizingly long recovery from the Great...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Fri, 07 Dec 2012 09:27:00 -0500The Great Recession's baby bust: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>"The U.S. birth rate dipped in 2011 to the lowest ever recorded," and reliable records go back to 1920, report Gretchen Livingston and D'Vera Cohn at the Pew Research Center. What's going on? The most likely culprit is financial insecurity. America's birth rate has stayed relatively steady since the mid-1970s, but that's because the higher birth rates among the increasing number of immigrants canceled out the dropping rates of U.S.-born mothers. But fertility rates tend to decline during hard economic times, the Pew researchers note, and there's been "a plunge in births to immigrant women since...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Fri, 30 Nov 2012 07:10:00 -0500What Black Friday says about the economic recovery<img src="" /></P><p>Retail analysts are forecasting the biggest Cyber Monday in history &mdash;&nbsp;$1.5 billion in online sales&nbsp;today. And on Black Friday, internet sales topped $1 billion,&nbsp;with millions of shoppers also rushing to snag deals at brick-and-mortar stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, which kicks off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday sales at stores were down 1.8 percent compared to last year, although that might have been because some of the day's spending was siphoned off by earlier-than-ever sales at Walmart and other major retailers that started late Thursday. What does this...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 26 Nov 2012 10:03:00 -0500Will the economy rebound no matter who wins the presidency?<img src="" /></P><p>Distracting gaffes aside, the economy has been at the heart of the 2012 presidential campaign, and when voters go to the polls on Tuesday, many will pull the lever for the <strong>candidate they believe is better equipped to lead the recovery</strong> and put Americans back to work. "Mitt Romney says Barack Obama's policies will consign the U.S. to an extended period of sluggish economic growth, at best," say Rich Miller and Steve Matthews at <em>Bloomberg</em>. "The president says his Republican challenger's plans will sow the seeds of another mammoth recession. <strong>Both are wrong</strong>."</p><p ><em>No matter who wins the election tomorrow...</em></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 05 Nov 2012 14:28:00 -0500October's solid jobs report -- and what it means for the presidential race<img src="" /></P><p>Are we heading for a winter of recovery? The Labor Department reported on Friday that the economy added a solid 171,000 jobs in October, beating the consensus estimate of forecasters. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent, but the increase was driven by more people returning to the labor force and looking for work &mdash; an indication that the labor market is on the mend. And in further good news, the Labor Department upwardly revised its numbers for September and August, showing that the economy added 84,000 more jobs than initially reported. The report was largely...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 02 Nov 2012 09:25:00 -0400The incredible shrinking manufacturing sector<img src="" /></P><p>Call Bruce Springsteen a prophet. "These jobs are going boys, and they ain't coming back," roared The Boss in his Reagan-era song "My Hometown."</p><p>During the second presidential debate, President Obama echoed those lyrics. Today, only 9 percent of Americans work in manufacturing jobs. American industry has declined on Obama's watch &mdash; something he readily admits to. During Tuesday night's debate, he channeled Springsteen, saying that "some jobs are going, and won't be coming back."</p><p>Part of this is unavoidable. It has to do with globalized markets and outsourcing. The obvious benefits of high...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-k-lewis" ><span class="byline">Matt K. Lewis</span></a>Fri, 19 Oct 2012 06:13:00 -0400Everything you need to know about the gold standard<img src="" /></P><p><strong>What is the gold standard?<br /></strong>It's a monetary system that directly links a currency's value to that of gold. A country on the gold standard cannot increase the amount of money in circulation without also increasing its gold reserves. Because the global gold supply grows only slowly, being on the gold standard would theoretically hold government overspending and inflation in check. No country currently backs its currency with gold, but many have in the past, including the U.S.; for half a century beginning in 1879, Americans could trade in $20.67 for an ounce of gold. The country effectively abandoned...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSun, 07 Oct 2012 16:00:00 -0400The Fed's stimulus program: Proof Obama has failed?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">This week, the Federal Reserve announced a new round of monetary stimulus to jumpstart the economy, pledging to purchase tens of billions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities from banks and other entities every month until the labor market finally shows some improvement. (Read a primer on the plan here.) It is the third time since 2008 that the central bank has used its unlimited source of cash to flood the economy with money, prompting Mitt Romney's campaign to describe the move as "further confirmation that President Obama's policies have not worked." Is the Fed's stimulus proof that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 14 Sep 2012 12:10:00 -0400The Fed's big new stimulus program: 6 takeaways<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The Federal Reserve is bringing out the big guns &mdash; again. On Thursday, the central bank announced its third major round of monetary stimulus since the 2008 financial crisis, in a new bid to jolt an economic recovery that has failed to pick up steam. The Fed vowed that it would buy $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities per month. Add to that previous commitments the bank has made recently, and Ben Bernanke's Fed will swell its balance sheet with longer-term securities by $85 billion per month. And in a significant change from previous asset purchases, the Fed promised that it would...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 13 Sep 2012 15:40:00 -0400How the iPhone 5 could juice the U.S. economy<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The iPhone 5, which is expected to be unveiled Wednesday and go on sale later this month, "could get credit for something Congress, the White House, and the Federal Reserve have struggled to do," says Sudeep Reddy at <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>:&nbsp;"Boost the U.S. economy in a measurable way." In a report titled "Can one little phone impact GDP?" financial analysts at JPMorgan Chase predict that sales of Apple's new phone could be so large that they'll significantly lift the entire U.S. economy. Here, a guide to the little phone that could:</p><p class="p1"><strong>How would the iPhone boost the economy?</strong> <br />The analysts estimate...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 11 Sep 2012 12:15:00 -0400