To Recession or not to Recession – THAT is the question

A ton is going on in the world, all very relevant.  Seriously, I could write a novel about the last two weeks.  So, in the interest of time, I’ll keep this one as short and sweet as I can.Preliminary Gross Domestic Product numbers came in at a meager +0.6 for 4th quarter ’07.  Not the thrilling growth that our country has come to know and love, but also not indicative of a full-on runaway recession.

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 356,000, higher than expectations of 340,000.  The stock market continues to erupt on a daily basis in an aggregate downslide.  The ISM Index (which indicates the health of the manufacturing sector of our economy) hit its lowest point in 7 years last week.  All bad news, and all pointing toward a potential recession.

On the bright side (if you want to call it that), the house just passed a 170 billion dollar version of their economic stimulus plan to basically give away “free money” in an effort to stimulate con­sumer spending.  Elections are bringing our economic woes even further into the spotlight.  The Fed just got done with the most aggressive rate cut in the past 20 years by dropping 1.25% in 9 days.  Big Brother is at least trying to help avoid a recession.

What you’ll need to watch out for is the possibility of inflation after we thwart this slow growth.  Short term, the current economic slowdown will counter-balance these overly aggressive monetary and fiscal policies.  Inflation should stay tame.  But in 12-24 months, don’t say that I didn’t warn you.  Hellooooo $4.00-5.00 per gallon.

 Super Tuesday sealed the inevitable victory of John McCain for the GOP presidential candidacy, forcing Mitt Romney to tactfully bow out of the race.  Hillary and Obama are still enjoying a tight race on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Bonds have taken a beating from our weak economy.  Consequently, mortgage rates aren’t lower­ing as quickly as one would hope.  Companies offering financial services are still shrouded heavily in doubt and skittish to make loans.  As Wall Street flushes out all of these faulty investments backed by bad mortgages, lending standards are remaining tight.  The last thing any bank is will­ing to do is risk the chance of writing MORE bad loans right now.

Maybe we are headed toward a mild market correction.  Maybe we’re not.  It shouldn’t make a difference in how you approach these times.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Take a helicopter view of what is going on in your financial household and protect yourself accordingly.  This storm isn’t close to being over. 

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