Today, it seems ubiquitously accepted that the American economy is weak, and that it's a foregone conclusion that we're headed into economic oblivion. We have a bad day in the stock market and Chicken Little shows up everywhere bemoaning our demise and lamenting about our dismal futures. Besieged by all this bad news, it can be very hard to remain optimistic about our future, but I am, and with this article I will highlight some reasons why.
Our Economic Prowess is Great
First of all, I do not believe that our economy is weak. Instead, I believe that America's fundamental economic strength is the strongest and most powerful that has ever existed on this earth. My basis for such a contrarian viewpoint is our economy’s innate ability to produce more goods and services than our population is capable of consuming. To me, a weak economy is one that is not capable of providing its consumers the basic necessities of life. In other words, to me a weak economy is one that cannot feed, clothe, shelter, transport or entertain its population. This does not describe the American economy. True economic strength is based on productivity, and the US economy is very productive.
If you really think about it, our economic problems are a result of excess, not scarcity. For example, prior to the 2008 collapse we built too many houses, not too few. Consequently, one of our biggest economic challenges now is to mop up our excesses. And, it would be naïve to believe that we have built our last house in America. In other words, painful as it may currently be, the time will once again return when America's construction and housing industry is vibrant again. And, quite frankly, I believe the healing would occur a lot sooner and more robustly if the government stayed out of it, as I believe they should.
Trends Magazine September 2011
Trends Magazine is currently running a series of articles discussing our current economic outlook. For those interested in learning about a more balanced and more positive view of our country's future, the price of a subscription to Trends Magazine would be money well spent. The general theme of this series of articles is far different than the ordinary fare we find in the public media. Where the major news services are bombarding us with a steady stream of doom and gloom based on their presentation of bad economic news, Trends Magazine offers a refreshingly different and more optimistic viewpoint. The following listing of titles from their current issue provides a glimpse into what I'm referring to, and I have included sample graphics from each.
Restoring America's Economic Vitality:
Amongst other things, this article highlights Stanford economist John Taylor's plan which articulates a target goal of generating 5% annual real economic growth in America. Here is a link to Prof. Taylor's blog for those interested in becoming better informed about laissez-faire free enterprise.
There are two essential factors to John Taylor's plan:
- Employment growth, and,
- Productivity growth. Additionally, 12 of our greatest challenges are listed and discussed with possible solutions and forecasts.
Removing the Economy's Housing Anchor:
This important article talks about how government actions have either been ineffective or have worsened the problem. They cite three developments to backup their claim. And at the end of the article they offer three forecasts for their readers to consider:
- A housing recovery beginning in 2013.
- A transition of today's foreclosures to the rental market.
- Forecasting that the construction market will rebound once excess inventory is worked off.
Global Demographics Favor U.S. Business:
Contrary to what a lot of demographic forecasters are suggesting, this article suggests that changes in worldwide demographics actually favor the US. The forecasts they offer for consideration are American population growth in the coming decades helping to enable a new era of prosperity, America's ability to attract talented ambitious immigrants, and along with this, the US should also attract global companies and become a de facto headquarters for the global economy.
The Pro-Growth Energy Economy Begins to Emerge:
This article discusses how America can better exploit our rich natural resources and those of our immediate neighbors in order to reduce our economic vulnerability to geopolitical turmoil.
Liquidating Unnecessary Federal Government Assets:
This article estimates that our federal government owns assets that serve no purpose for the people of the United States totaling at least $1.6 trillion. Although not a complete solution to our massive debt issues, this is at least a solution that would have some impact. The following excerpt talks about the amount of gold the federal government is hoarding:
"9,000 tons of gold are currently in the federal government's possession. Because we've been off the gold standard since 1971, there is no practical use for these holdings. The argument for retaining the gold is to save it for a national emergency. The question is: What emergency would be greater than the fiscal debt cliff we are quickly approaching? Selling just half of the gold would generate more than $200 billion in revenue — and it would still leave the U.S. with the largest stockpile of gold in the world. With gold prices at historic highs, now would be the time to sell."
Hard Realities Put Regulatory Assumptions Under a Microscope:
This article reviews the undeniable reality that exploding costs to US businesses driven by bureaucratically created unnecessary government regulation is crippling America's businesses. The article states that:
"a realistic goal, within the context of achieving annual real 5% economic growth, would be eliminating at least $1 trillion in annual regulatory compliance costs within five years. When combined with the other trends we've identified in public policy, this new regulatory paradigm would lead to a dramatic surge in America's standard of living and quality of life."
Taking Advantage of the Opportunity
I've been struggling with what could be done with this information. Unfortunately, Trends Magazine is offered by subscription and therefore not readily available. Nevertheless, here is a link to their guest edition.
I find it a shame that some of the, what I consider to be best and mostly positive information, can only be found through subscription products. There is so much information they offer that could help people see our great country and its economy in a different and better light. Hopefully, what I've written will at least let people know that there exists, other more benign and even positive views, of our country and our great future potential than what is generally talked about in the mainstream media. For example, one of the five forecasts, and my favorite, in the Restoring America's Economic vitality article is as follows:
"Forth, when the Fifth Techno-Economic revolution finally moves into the implementation phase, it will fully unleash the unprecedented productivity potential we've been discussing."
The prospects for economic growth and prosperity behind this statement are exciting and uplifting. In a previous article I lamented that we needed to be discussing solutions to our problems.The current issue of Trends Magazine provided many potentially viable answers and solutions to some of our greatest problems. I am a believer in our free enterprise system and have great confidence that it can and will solve any and all of our economic issues far better than can be done by meddling government and Keynesian economic policy.
I feel strongly that all we really need is a good dose of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith. The Keynesian social experiments, with all of their costly and potentially inflationary stimulus plans and monetary meddling have not worked during our current malaise, nor have they ever worked over the last hundred years. I believe it's time we wake up and trust the economic system that in spite of all our meddling with it, has still produced the greatest economic prosperity that mankind has ever known. But more importantly, if we trust in it and let it alone, it still holds the potential to exceed anything that has been achieved for us so far. Free enterprise works, bureaucracy doesn't.
Thanks to Pessimism Great American Businesses Are On Sale
The good news is that many of America's greatest businesses that stand to benefit greatly from the many potential opportunities discussed here are currently on sale. The businesses we are specifically referring to continue to have good and stable business results and prospects, but have been unjustly sold off because of pessimism and fears of a bleak future. This extreme negativity has caused investors to flee stocks in droves at what might precisely be the best time in decades to own them. Will we ever learn to buy low and sell high, instead of buying high and selling low?
The following five high-quality blue-chip great American businesses are currently selling at their lowest valuations in decades. The earnings and price correlated F.A.S.T. Graphs™ with accompanying performance reports vividly illustrate the low valuation relative to historical norms the market is currently placing on their shares. Historically, the market has valued their shares at a premium to their orange earnings justified valuation line by awarding these blue-chip dividend growth stocks additional credit for their strong and growing dividends.
Today's pessimism has not only made them available at an attractive cost, but it has simultaneously created an abnormally high entry-level dividend yield. But perhaps most importantly, this is occurring at a time when earnings growth is strong. Only the energy company Exxon has shown any real earning stress over the past few years, however, even their earnings are clearly recovering. Today’s herd mentality is clearly fleeing equities of all kinds, and even the high quality blue chips depicted below have not escaped. However, as I have often said "the reality of running with the herd is that your ultimate destination is the slaughterhouse."
It has been my observation over my last four decades of studying the stock market that investors have a penchant for projecting into the future what is currently happening. In other words, when the market is behaving badly, they tend to believe it is going to continue to behave badly far into the future. And as I reflect on this, it occurs to me that every bull market has ended with a bear market, and conversely, every bear market has ended with a bull market. The most important attribute to remember about free-markets is that they self adjust. Most know this as the law of supply and demand.
Disclosure: Long PG, JNJ, PEP at the time of writing.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this document are for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the stocks mentioned or to solicit transactions or clients. Past performance of the companies discussed may not continue and the companies may not achieve the earnings growth as predicted. The information in this document is believed to be accurate, but under no circumstances should a person act upon the information contained within. We do not recommend that anyone act upon any investment information without first consulting an investment advisor as to the suitability of such investments for his specific situation.