by Jared Cummans
Back in May of this year, Marc Faber-- a famous "doom and gloom" name in the financial world-- stated that his certainty of another U.S. recession is 100%. Faber is often referred to as Dr. Doom, though that title is more famously used for Nouriel Roubini. Faber's theory was based on the slowdown in China and India, and that another global economic recession would soon follow. Of course, that is nothing compared to Robert Wiedemer (who called the 2008 recession) who feels that stocks could be poised for a 90% drop around the world.
It's been nearly three months since Faber made his remarks regarding the global economy, so we thought we would check in on the U.S. to see if any trends have developed thus far in 2012.
U.S. GDP growth sank from 3% to 1.5% over the last three quarters and there is no need to mention our towering debt piles, as those have been well-documented for quite some time. Our unemployment rate has risen from 8.1% to 8.3% since May (though it should be noted that actual unemployment is in the range of 15%), and domestic industrial production has dropped since May (though levels are still higher than they were earlier in the year).
Retail sales had been weak for the summer, but last week's report showed a major increase in consumer spending which could be a sign of increased consumer confidence. Inflation has fallen off significantly from 2.3% in May to just 1.7% in the last two months. In short, economic indicators are all across the board, making it difficult to say whether or not we are truly in a recession.
Of course, all of these figures may be obsolete if a third round of quantitative easing is announced, as it would dramatically shake up our economy; if the program works, stocks will rise as will key economic indicators, if it fails we will simply bury ourselves deeper into a hole with a devalued currency and a complete lack of confidence from consumers and investors.
From a financial standpoint, stocks have had a strong year. The S&P 500 has jumped by nearly 11.8% as markets have charged higher throughout the majority of 2012. For many, this is really the only stat that matters. As long as stock markets continue to perform well, investors likely won't be arguing about a recession or not. But of course, it remains to be seen if equities can maintain their momentum, as the past few weeks have been relatively rocky.
All in all, calling ourselves in a recession currently is factually inaccurate, but whether or not we are heading into one is a different story. All it takes is two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, and we are right back where we started. For now, investors will ride out the storm as best they can until markets decide which way they will be heading for the future. So what do you all think, are we heading towards a recession or is Mr. Faber a bit brash on his bold prediction?
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.