Is a Recession Coming?

Stock Market

Having spent many years in the Middle East, your author has some awareness of ‘the ways things work’ in the sand kingdoms. They respect authority. They ‘dis’ feckless wandering. Note the current response to our ‘war talk’ from the region…

Labor Day celebrates the worker in each of us. It is a joy to work, to do our job well, to be respected for our expertise. No matter the task, when we are good at it, we know it and the world knows it. There is a certain pride in workmanship that is less celebrated today than in past days. A shame about that.

Part time employment has risen significantly since the recent ‘recession’. Some say this is because firms don’t want to have to pay the upcoming healthcare premium slanted for full implementation in 2015. Yet, the increase in part timers has been ongoing for several years. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) can only be partially responsible. Women returning home to have children and be full time family members may be another cause. Boomers retiring but ‘keeping their hand on the tiller’ may be another reason. Men seeking part time work as they pursue other interests may be a third. Living at home or on the dole may be a fourth. Be wary of simplistic answers – they are nearly always wrong.

The fourth quarter of 2013 (4Q13) has to impress. It must come in with a growth in GDP of 4-5% to meet the Feds forecast of 2.5% annual growth. The comments from the punditocracy are revealing in this week’s Barrons: “We can only hope,” says a Big Name on Wall St.

I am from time to time asked by the journalist community to suggest future events: what will the market do? What areas are best for investment in 2014? Will we have another recession soon?

Frankly, I respond that I have no idea what the future will bring. Those who do are simply guessing. A stopped watch is right twice daily. Soothsayers have been around for centuries. They have yet to prove any skill – at all. Still, people keep asking them questions and they continue to respond. As P T Barnum said in 1843, ‘there is a sucker born every day.”