Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Global Economy is Firing on All Cylinders

What a difference 12 months can make.
Just one year after every national economy on earth was in deep trouble, a powerful global rebound is underway. In fact, the global upswing is a lot stronger than most investors realize.
So don’t let a few days’ decline here and there cause you to lose sight of one of the most important investing trends investors will find today.
According to ISI Group researchers, the transformation has been a dramatic one. A year ago, every national economy on earth was declining at the same time – some dramatically. Today, however, every economy is now improving – though at different paces.
ISI points out that last week’s highlights included China’s third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) rising at a 12% quarter-over-quarter rate, and Korea’s economy rising at around 8.2%. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) sales in China were reported up 30%. China retail sales are up 24% annualized in the past nine months. And China industrial production is up 21% in the last 10 months. Across the China Sea, export orders and industrial production in Taiwan are up at around a 51% annualized pace.
Over in the developed world, we’re seeing much of the same: The U.S. leading indicators are rising at the fastest pace since 1983. Canadian retail sales are up 3% annualized in the last eight months. And Japanese exports are up at a 31% annualized pace in the past half year, while Australia is smokin’, with auto sales alone up 12% annualized.
Amid this drama, copper prices are up 120% this year, while commodity memory chips (dynamic random access memory chips, known as DRAM), are up 71%.
Here in the United States, chain store sales are up at a 5.5% pace over the last 10 months and are likely to be much better than the National Retail Federation is predicting, which is negative 1%. And employment? Glad you asked. As mentioned last week, unemployment claims have declined 127,000 in the past six months, which amounts to a faster rate of descent than seen in the last two jobless recoveries.
I want to throw out a shocker of an idea for you to think about until next time. ISI points out that payroll losses have been improving (i.e. falling less) by 77,000 jobs per month on average over the past six months. If that keeps up, payrolls will rise by 137,000 in January next year. And if that occurs, regression analysis suggests that GDP growth for the quarter will come in at around 4%.

Is it possible? Well, virtually everyone seems to think it’s impossible – which increases the likelihood that it could occur. But if you look at trends of unemployment claims, temp employment surveys, layoff announcement tallies and the like, they are all moderating in syncopation.
Pessimists will call this just a lull and a fake-out, but I would just note that improvements have become the norm overseas. As mentioned last week, ISI reports employment is already on the rise in Sweden, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Finland, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Canada, in order of strength.
The theory is that employment was cut too much last year as companies anticipated a depression. Models of behavior suggest that employment should have only been cut by 3.5%, and instead almost 6% of jobs were cut away. This is why productivity and earnings gains have been so amazing.
Ultimately, and perhaps as soon as right now, companies will start hiring again to reverse their “throw everything overboard” mentality of last year. That will have the effect of moderating earnings gains, but it will also put money back into workers’ pockets and in turn, help boost revenue.
In summary, don’t let the short-term setbacks we’ve seen of late cause you to lose sight of the big picture: Long-term global growth trends are in place. As shown in the chart above, it would be natural for the rapid ascent of the past eight months to taper off into a sideways consolidation before its next leg higher. A total collapse is always possible, but it’s just not the most likely scenario now, no matter what the bears say.
Courtesy: http://www.moneymorning.com/2009/11/02/global-economic-growth/

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