Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bullish or Bearish on the Economy, or Do We Just Muddle Along?

The stock market has returned to the levels that existed prior to the financial crisis.  Market experts are discussing whether the bull market can continue or whether the bottom will drop out again soon.  Opposing views can be found in many places, including this link

I am not as concerned about the equity markets as the economy as a whole.  Is there reason to be bullish on the economy or not?  On the plus side:  the American economy continues to be more innovative and resilient than most economies; immigration reform may actually come and immigrants tend to offer dynamism to the economy; households are getting their financial house in order--most corporations have already done so; inflation is still contained; productivity is high; among other things.

What about he negatives? These include: the recovery is very tepid and shows little sign of picking up soon; labor force participation rates, especially of men, are down; baby boomers are entering retirement age implying further reduction in labor force participation rates and increased transfer payments in the form of social security and medicare; there is too much of a concern over the short run--this includes the government, pundits and the Fed; dysfuntional government; a larger share of the population is dependent on the government for their income; Europe has problems; among other things.

I tend to be optimistic most of the time, but it is difficult to be optimistic right now.  I suspect we will continue to muddle along for awhile, but not see robust growth any time soon.

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