Summer won’t technically end for almost a month, we’re still a couple of weeks away from Labor Day, and many of the nation’s children haven’t yet returned to school. But no matter when one thinks summer ends, it’s already way past obvious that the Obama administration’s “Recovery Summer” has been and will end up being a big, fat, embarrassing failure.
How bad? The housing market’s worst-on-record June for new construction was followed by its worst-on-record July. In each case, the year-over-year decline from 2009, when what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid economy since the middle of 2008 supposedly hit its trough, was about 10%. In what are usually two of the best months of the year for builders, in a nation with almost 130 million housing units, construction began on barely over 100,000 new ones. That’s about 65% lower than the 1959-2007 average for the same two months.
An economist quoted by the Associated Press on August 19 described the construction situation for office buildings, malls, and hotels in three words: “Dead, dead, dead.”
Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims have headed back upward. The talk about the unemployment rate is no longer about when it will finally get below 9%, but how much it will rise from its current 9.5%. Retail sales are not impressing anyone. Manufacturing, which appeared as if it might lead the way to recovery just a few months ago, seems to have gone into reverse, perhaps in a big way.
Looking at the bigger picture, second quarter economic growth, currently pegged at an annualized 2.4%, will almost certainly be revised significantly downward. The New York Times has admitted to “somewhere around 1.7%.” There are solid reasons to believe that it could even come in below 1%. That’s significant, because almost everyone thinks that the third quarter, which roughly tracks the beginning and end of what is really turning out to be our “Recovery Bummer,” will be worse. The journey to a double-dip recession is not at all far.