Waiting for the economy to improve before turning off the printing presses is likely to take a very long time. The August numbers on the economy were disheartening for those waiting for such an improvement: U.S. durable goods production fell for the third month in a row, astonishing economists who had predicted much better numbers. GDP continues to slow, and companies such as Caterpillar, the world’s biggest construction and mining equipment manufacturer, cut its earnings outlook because of the continuing slowdown in the world economy.
A preview of the upcoming Census Bureau's upbeat analysis of the economy was met with little enthusiasm and contrasted sharply with reports from FedEx and elsewhere.
When the Federal Reserve announced last week its plan to buy more treasury securities, only a few read the fine print. Many observers envisioned sugar plums dancing in their heads as the Fed’s plan would lead, no doubt, to more economic growth, more jobs, more profits, and more stocks to sell on Wall Street. But in fact, unemployment not only hasn’t fallen significantly since the start of the Fed’s rollouts of Quantitative Easings, but it has remained higher longer than any time since the early 1980s.
If the Fed decides to extend its Operation Twist program beyond the end of the year and into the year 2015, then the math is irrefutable: 40 months of purchases totaling $85 billion a month is $3.4 trillion. The Fed’s balance sheet is currently at $2.7 trillion. That brings the Fed’s balance sheet, if nothing changes, to a mind-bending $6.1 trillion.
The U.S. tax code is a complex and burdensome maze of rates, exemptions, exclusions, credits, deductions, phase-out levels, and exceptions. People may not agree on anything else, but the nature of the tax code is certainly something that anyone of any political persuasion would agree on.