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Signal Still Mixed on the US Economy

CIN Alert for December 20, 2011
Signal Still Mixed on the US Economy

As the curtain comes down on 2011, it is still very difficult to determine where the US economy is headed. It seems like every week we have yet another series of contradictions. For example, here are the top headline articles taken from the pages of CIN’s Economy Section over the weekend of December 17-18:

  • Fixed mortgage rates drop again to record lows;
  • U.S. Economy Showing Growth, But Vulnerabilities Remain Abroad and at Home;
  • Job market brightens as unemployment claims sink;
  • More hunger, homelessness seen in ’12;
  • Defaults down, credit companies may issue more cards;
  • New Foreclosure Wave is Coming;
  • Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income;

Now we defy anyone to make a firm prediction about the direction our economy will take in the new year, based on this sampling of recent headlines.

Wall Street’s volatility would seem to indicate that the Street’s wizards also share some apprehension on the state of the economy as we enter a new year. Recognizing this, your CIN editors keep this issue clearly in focus in our Economy Section.

Here at CIN we track the actions, reactions and ups and downs of politics and government, Wall Street, banking, consumerism and other related areas that generate news, research and commentary impacting community development, housing, credit, economic justice and you.

Reports from the Labor Department, actions of the Federal Reserve, and new laws passed by Congress are just a few of the items monitored and reported on in this special CIN Section.

The US economy is complex, difficult to comprehend, and sometimes puzzling, but it does impact are daily lives and our futures. It will also be the subject of numerous political commentaries as we enter a Presidential Election Year.

You’ll need a dependable source to cut through the red tape and the politics to present timely, factual information regarding our economy. CIN is always prepared to be that source for you. Now here’s a closer look at those seemingly contradictory headlines we listed earlier in this alert:

Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates Again At Historic lows  
(USA Today)
The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage has dropped back down to 3.94%, a record low set earlier in the fall. These historically low rates offer a great opportunity for those who can afford to buy or refinance.

TD Economics: U.S. Economy Showing Growth, But Vulnerabilities Remain Abroad and at Home
(Source: TD Bank)
Despite encouraging signs of progress over the last few months, the U.S. economic recovery remains vulnerable, according TD Economics an affiliate of TD Bank. TD Chief Economist Craig Alexander says that despite some massive headwinds, the U.S. economy has proven to be surprisingly resilient.

Job market brightens as unemployment claims sink
(Source: Los Angeles Times) The outlook for the U.S. job market is looking brighter.
Far fewer Americans are seeking unemployment benefits than just three months ago, a sign that layoffs are falling sharply. The number of people applying for benefits has dropped to 366,000, the fewest since May 2008. If the number stays that low consistently, it would likely signal that hiring is strong enough to lower unemployment.

More hunger, homelessness seen in ’12
(Source: Chicago Tribune) A survey of 29 cities shows hunger has risen in most of them in the past year and is expected to increase in 2012 as the United States faces a sluggish economy. Homelessness also rose an average of 6 percent for the surveyed cities, with the increase in homeless families far outpacing the number for individuals.

Defaults down, credit companies may issue more cards
(Source: Boston.com) Credit card defaults dropped so sharply this year that banks may pick up their pace of opening new accounts in 2012. Potential customers with moderate credit scores should find cards easier to obtain in the coming year.

New Foreclosure Wave is coming
(Source: CNBC) Despite a seasonal slowdown in overall foreclosure activity, and a process still impacted by the “robot-signing” processing scandal, the U.S real estate market is about to be hit by another surge of bank repossessions, according to a new report from the online foreclosure sale site RealtyTrac. As banks resubmit millions of documents and courts begin hearing cases again, the backlog of over four million delinquent loans will start surging through the pipeline again.

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income
(Source: Boston.com)Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of nearly 2-in-1 Americans have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

We cannot underestimate the impact the economy has on our lives. Knowledge is power — and CIN’s special section on the economy is designed to empower you with the ability to comprehend what’s happening on Wall Street and Main Street.  It can be easily accessed from the top of our CIN Home Page. Read it every day and learn what needs to be known about the economy.

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  1. January 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm

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