Back towards a US double-dip
“The US economy was supposed to be in bloom by late spring, but it is hardly growing at all. Expectations for second-quarter growth are not much better than the measly 1.8 per cent annualised rate of the first quarter. That is not nearly fast enough to reduce America’s ferociously high level of unemployment. The labour department will tell us on Friday whether the jobs situation improved in May, but there has been no sign of a surge in hiring. Nor in wages. Average hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory employees – who make up 80 per cent of non-government workers – dropped to $8.76 in April. Adjusted for inflation, that’s lower than they were in the depths of the recession.
Meanwhile, housing prices continue to fall. They are now 33 per cent below their 2006 peak. That is a bigger drop than recorded in the Great Depression. Homes are the largest single asset of the American middle class, so as housing prices drop many Americans feel poorer. All of this is contributing to a general gloominess. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence is also down. “