More Fodder For The Bulls

Michael Panzner
updated | Author's Website

Given that stock market likes loves bad news (which is not surprising when you have a trading crowd infected with dot-com-era delusions and the likes of Helicopter Ben Bernanke in charge), I reckon the following collection of items from today’s news trawl could easily send the Dow up a thousand points on Monday.

“The Pinocchio Recovery” (MarketBeat)

It’s been nearly three years since the recession’s official end, and the economy remains mired somewhere between stall speed and escape velocity. Nobody can quite figure out how to keep it away from the former and get it past the latter. The usual prescriptions aren’t working.

What we’ve got on our hands is a Pinocchio recovery, a puppet that wants to be a real boy, but remains just a wooden toy that moves only when somebody’s pulling the strings. It needs massive amounts of stimulus — government spending, cheap interest rates, tax holidays, tax breaks on equipment purchases, and so on  – to move it.

“More Americans Find Aging Is a Gateway to Poverty” (Macroscope)

Over the last several years, more Americans have found that aging has left them in the clutch of poverty. Between 2005 and 2009, the rate of poverty among American seniors rose as they aged, as did the number of people entering poverty, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Poverty rates fell in the first half of the last decade for almost all age groups of older Americans (defined as age 50 or older) but increased since 2005 for every age group.

“Wage Growth in the U.S. Will Feel Effects of Great Recession for Years to Come” (Conference Board)

The Great Recession has confronted U.S. workers with an extended buyer’s market in jobs, according to a new Executive Action Report from The Conference Board, leading to overall wage growth between 2008 and 2010 that was the weakest since the 1960s. Feeling the Pain: Wage Growth in the United States examines prevailing trends in recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and finds workers and wages still reeling from the downtown, with significant disparities across states and demographic groups in how strongly wage pressures have been felt.

Said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board and a co-author of the report: “While there were signs of modest overall wage improvements in 2011, the severe depression of wage growth during the Great Recession — turning negative in the hardest hit regions — is likely to impact consumer spending, inflation, corporate profits, income inequality, and employee engagement for many years to come. Moreover, the uneven distribution of this pain among different groups may carry deep social and political implications for the future development of the economy.”

“U.S. Financial Comfort Falls to New Low” (Gallup)

Sixty percent say they make enough to live comfortably, down from 65% in 2011

PRINCETON, NJ — Americans’ financial comfort is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, with 60% saying they currently have enough money to live comfortably and 39% saying they do not. Americans’ peace of mind with their finances was fairly stable at a high level from the first asking of the question in 2002 through 2007, but has since faltered.

“Expected Retirement Age in U.S. Up to 67″ (Gallup)

Average expected retirement age was 60 in mid-1990s

The average nonretired American now expects to retire at age 67, up from age 63 a decade ago and age 60 in the mid-1990s.

The results are from Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted April 9-12.

The same poll finds a new low of 38% of nonretirees saying they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, down slightly from 42% last year. When Gallup first asked the question in 2002, 59% thought they would have enough. The percentage dipped below 50% during the recession and has remained below since.

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