Wyoming Liberty Group
On July 30 the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released an advance-estimate version of its GDP numbers for the second quarter of 2015. For the first time since before the Great Recession it looks like there is some real strength building in the economy. First, the summary from the BEA:
Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2015, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.6 percent (revised). The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency ... The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending, private inventory investment, and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
Never bark at the Big Dog. The Big Dog is always right.
On July 28 the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) published its quarterly update on state government revenue. While CREG as usual takes a low profile approach to the state's revenue problems, the actual message in the report deserves some real attention.
In her big speech on economic policy on July 13, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outline a vision for expanding the American welfare state. At 17:45 into the video, Mrs. Clinton summarizes her entitlement agenda:
Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and our growth.
Ever since Colorado decided to legalize marijuana there has been an increasingly intense discussion in Wyoming over whether or not the Cowboy State should go the same way. Some people have (for unclear reasons) confidently, consistently, told us that it can never happen here. However, as I explained last year, whenever there is the prospect of a new tax, anything can happen, even in Wyoming. Alas, from KGAB:
This week's big news on the economic front is the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. With a debt at 70 percent of its GDP the U.S. territory has assumed debt payment obligations that go well beyond what its $28,500-per-year GDP per capita can pay for. Time is running out for San Juan to come up with a solution; if they don't, bankruptcy is a real possibility.
Earlier this week, in an outlook toward the federal government's budget problems over the next few years, I outlined a troubling but entirely realistic scenario:
It is the spring of 2020. The U.S. economy is humming along at an unimpressive growth rate of a bit more than two percent per year. The federal budget has been running growing deficits for the past few years, and the forecast for 2020 is a deficit of $554 billion. Congress is borrowing more than eleven percent of every dollar it spends. Interest rates on Treasury bonds are at four percent, with forecasts predicting an upward trend for the rest of the year. Total unemployment, six percent, is steady and shows no tendency of shrinking. Almost 9 percent of America's youth are unemployed, with no decline in sight. A recession begins. Normally, this would be not be much of a problem. Normally, the American economy could ride it out - much like the Millennium Recession - and get back to business in 18-24 months. This time, though, it is going to be different. Painfully different.