Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 Update (Glen Allport)

Glen Allport paints a grim picture of the state of the economy:

So far, 2008 has been a thrill ride of the worst kind: The Dow has given back nearly all its gains for the last two years, housing prices and sales continue dropping with "no sign of a bottom" (per S&P spokesman David M. Blitzer, quoted in Housing prices post record declines at CNNMoney.com), prices for food and other consumables are rising, "legions" of the newly-homeless are living in their cars or RVs, and oil is over $140/barrel, after hitting $100 for the first time on January 3 and then declining briefly to near $80. Gasoline has now been over $4/gal for some time, which is killing Detroit . Full-size trucks and SUVs, the cash cows of the American car biz, have become lepers on the car lots. High gas prices are also choking off what little disposable income still remains for the middle class.

There is more: Massive flooding in Iowa has dashed any hope for a generous (or even average) corn crop this year, which means today's global food shortage and attendant price inflation will intensify instead of easing. An attack on Iran remains a concern, as the drumbeat for war in the Corporatist Media continues. Could such an attack double or even triple oil prices? Some think so (link is to transcript of a recent speech in the House by Ron Paul condemning the "virtual war resolution" soon to be considered by the House of Representatives; a link to video of the speech [5 min 33 sec] is also included).

I could go on at length, because the past six months have seen a constant barrage of bad news. For a fuller (yet still brief) recap of the misery, here's Start of 2008 is the ugliest in decades by Kathleen Pender at SFGate.com ( June 29, 2008 ) which includes a table with details of the changes for economic and financial indicators since the start of the year. Number of those changes that look positive for the economy as a whole: zero.

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