Is This the Beginning of the Next Recession?

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“Significant risk” of “falling into contraction” with “worse to come.”

The US economy is largely service based. So when the “manufacturing renaissance” and “on-shoring” that everyone had been waiting for turned into no-shows, and when instead manufacturing started slowing in early 2015, it was no big deal, according to the meme.

OK, it was terrible for the folks who lost their jobs. But manufacturing accounts for only 12% of the US economy and employs only about 9% of the workforce. So overall, it’s not the end of the world, we heard constantly. And besides, we could always make it up with fast food.

Manufacturing alone can’t drag the US into a recession, we were assured. And the service economy would continue to be strong. That was the meme.

Then, a few days ago, Evan Koenig, Senior Vice President at the Dallas Fed, gave a presentation that showed that manufacturing contractions preceded service contractions in the run-up of the past two recessions. When service sector growth begins to dwindle – so still growth, but slower growth – after the manufacturing sector has already begun to shrink, that’s the point he called “prelude to recession.” And when the service sector begins to actually shrink, that event marks what officials will later call the beginning of the recession [read…  “Prelude to Recession”: the Dallas Fed’s Unsettling Charts].

That “prelude to a recession” happened a few months ago. At the time, manufacturing was already shrinking; and the services index had just started heading south. But now the services index entered a contraction as well. So this could mark the beginning of what will much later be officially called a recession.

Different indices differ, depending on who does the counting, and they can be volatile, but over time, they agree on the trends. Koenig was using the ISM indices for manufacturing and services. Today we got Markit’s national Flash Services PMI, and it was a doozie.

The survey’s respondents – companies in the service sector – said that business activity in February fell, pushing the index to 49.8 (below 50 = contraction). The index has now plunged three months in a row, from 56 in November to 49.8 now. During the heyday in 2014, the index was above 60. This was the first time since October 2013 that the services index was in contraction mode.

But the “contraction” in October 2013 was a one-month affair. The index plunged from 58 in September to 49 in October and then jumped back to 57 the next month. It was triggered by the government shutdown. And after the brief scare, the service sector expansion continued.



Beyond the one-month Congress-induced scare, the index for the service sector has not been below 50, and therefore in a contraction, since the Great Recession. So this is a significant event. Markit:

Reports from survey respondents suggested that softer underlying new order growth and uncertainty about the economic outlook had weighed on business activity in February.

The report also blamed the weather. Snowfalls on the East Coast caused some “disruptions.” But during the harsh polar vortexes of prior years, which covered a big part of the US, the index didn’t dip into contraction mode. And so the report cautioned that “the weather can only explain part of the slowdown.”

The upturn in new work was “one of the slowest since the survey began in late-2009.” Service firms complained that “some clients were more reluctant to commit to new projects, in part reflecting uncertainty about the economic outlook.” And “the degree of confidence” fell to “the lowest recorded for five-and-a-half years.” The report doesn’t let up:

Optimism about the outlook has been on a downward trend over the past two years, with worries about the global economic outlook, financial market volatility, and presidential election, and interest rate policy all taking a further toll on business morale in February.

Any bounce-back from the weather may therefore prove to be only a temporary improvement in a steady downward trend of business conditions”

So the US economy faced “a significant risk” of “falling into contraction in the first quarter,” while “slumping business confidence” and the further deterioration “in order book backlogs suggest there is worse to come.”

Yet, service firms were still hiring, and hiring levels remained above “the average seen since the jobs recovery began six years ago.” So this is the good news.

This pattern explains the relatively strong employment figures and low weekly unemployment claims despite the weakness in manufacturing and services. This too was the case during the Great Recession: the recession officially began in December 2007, but the unemployment rate didn’t begin to jump until six months later! So the fact that the numbers for the job market haven’t cratered yet is not a propitious consolation.

Plunges like this only occur when something big is going on. Read… Restaurant Industry Suddenly Tanks, Worst Plunge since the Beginning of the Financial Crisis



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  58 comments for “Is This the Beginning of the Next Recession?

  1. Michael Gorback
    February 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Can we finish the previous recession first?

    • Vespa P200E
      February 24, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Yes as did the last Great Recession really end for most of the people?

      • polecat
        February 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

        uhhh…no..

    • CrazyCooter
      February 24, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      I love that comment. I am VERY GLAD we don’t have voting, but that sir is worth a gentleman’s tip o’ the hat!

      Regards,

      Cooter

    • LG
      February 25, 2016 at 1:20 am

      + 100 for that Michael .
      I won’t even try to top your comment.

    • Jerry
      February 25, 2016 at 3:02 am

      Love it, very funny

    • d
      February 25, 2016 at 6:16 am

      NO YOU CANT.

      Some idiot directed QE II and III into banking instead of infrastructure so now

      The Second half of the double dip that was averted in 08 will (And in fact MUST) occur.

      This is not a new recession, it is simply a continuation of the 08 one that was not allowed to bottom out.

      Markets can only be manipulated for so long, then natural forces must and will take control.

      There is too much Non performing and general debt.

      Too much financial engineering, and no real profit making activity, let alone growth.

      The system must be allowed to bottom, the weak must be allowd to fail then there can be consolidation and forward movement that may turn into recovery.

      China has again done what it has repeatedly done since the 1400’s and before, plunged the world into a manufactured global trade downturn.

      Part of the cure is to remove global overcapacity.

      China of course wants everybody else to reduce their capacity to 0.

      Whilst it continues to increase its overcapacity. So that everything is made in china or by chinese company’s, and china is the only nation gaining from the global trade system.

      This article http://rielpolitik.com/2016/02/20/das-kapital-the-silver-age-of-the-central-banker-ends-badly/ makes some nasty but serious suggestions as to where the global system is. Regarding cooperation

      And some of what will happen. As a result.

    • Petunia
      February 25, 2016 at 6:55 am

      MG,

      I thought you are a doctor. It cost 2k to have my son’s wisdom teeth pulled. At those prices how could you guys not be doing well.

      • Michael Gorback
        February 25, 2016 at 8:10 am

        “I thought you are a doctor. It cost 2k to have my son’s wisdom teeth pulled. At those prices how could you guys not be doing well.”

        Perhaps it’s because dentists remove wisdom teeth, not doctors, and oral surgery is largely a cash business and a free market. Bear in mind though that the $2K was not pure profit. Whether done at the office or an ambulatory center, a lot of the money goes to equipment, supplies, and staff.

        Some doctors are doing well, many are not. A lot of practices have gone belly up in recent years as fees have stagnated or decreased for over 20 years, while regulatory and paperwork burdens have increased substantially.

        • Tim
          February 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

          Yes, this is the reality of professions: professionals are also under the iron law of wages. Oh, they have a fancier dwelling, fancy car, etc. (maybe, maybe not), but they are really on the treadmill like most folks.

          The only people not under the iron law of wages are oligarchs.

        • polecat
          February 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          So when can I, as a poor plebe, pay for services rendered……in goats, potatoes,……. or, say, honey ….since if the Masters of Fucktopia have their way, they’ll be banning cash ????

        • Michael Gorback
          February 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm

          Polecat, I already accept barter but my homeowners’ association will probably frown on goats.

          I think if they ban cash there will be a lot of barter going on. Good for us, since barter is much harder to trace than cash. It will be a taxation nightmare. If I give you $100 worth of medical care and you give me $100 worth of potatoes, we save a boatload on taxes if we keep our mouths shut.

        • interesting
          February 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm

          “fees have stagnated or decreased for over 20 years”

          welcome to the party……it’s starting to get crowded in here.

          and there in lies the problem, there can be no increase in demand if there is no increase in income

        • joe
          February 29, 2016 at 4:04 am

          i just had two of my wisdom teeth pulled , for a total of 150 bucks (without insurance) .
          It was in beautiful Budapest (not some 3rd world country….) . Im pretty sure the equipment and supplies you talked about are actually MORE expansive over there than in the u.s. – so in reality its simply just staff costs here and someone is just heavily getting overpaid. I encourage all to leave and get these done over there, a plane ticket is only 600 bucks… so you easily have another grand to spend on this “vacation” and still come out ahead…

  2. Chris
    February 24, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    This recession will be much worse than 07/08.
    Never before have we had so many negative triggers.

    • polecat
      February 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      I can the klaxons wailing louder, and louder with every passing day…..

  3. A girl from Scandinavia
    February 24, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Recessions have historically appeared with 7-9 year intervals.
    2008 + 7 = ?

    What worries me is that the upcoming one will likely be more violent (civil unrest) and damaging to the poorest

    • Yoshua
      February 25, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      “Norway is ready to abandon the Geneva Convention if Sweden collapses. The border will be closed by force, and Swedish refugees will be rejected without the possibility to seek asylum. “We are prepared for the worst,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.”

  4. retired
    February 24, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Lord Acton said “The issue that has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks”

    It’s as simple as that…. if we included the whole financial sector along with the banks!

    The simplest way of saying it is that the world’s economies are being devoured by the financiers & speculators in the financial markets.
    Economies are shut out & starved for capital & liquidity,after the financial vultures are done feeding.
    They are too weak to function!

  5. Bigfoot
    February 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Is this the beginning of the next recession?? I find that question almost laughable. After having to shutter a small business in 2008 after 20 years, allowing me the humbling experience of searching for a job, I stand by the slow grind syndrome.

    In retrospect, it’s been a long slow decline for decades just based on the monetary debasement. I remember as a kid, you could move out on your own, take one of the lowest paying jobs & still be able to rent a place, run a car down the road, buy groceries, & even have some party money left over. Those days are long gone.

    Ever look at cumulative world GDP to debt ratios ? Yes, the financiers are standing over there in that dark corner awaiting the time when there is blood in the streets & they can once again scoop up the prime assets for pennies on the dollar. Same old song & dance as that time grows closer.

    On a bright note, the weather is just about there to start my garden. Added one more raised bed this year & a few thousand sq ft of flatland garden. OT- in my commute I’m perpetually amazed at how few gardens I see & how much arable land there is.

    • A. Price
      February 24, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Everyone needs a garden. Every bit helps the household budget.

      • Toddy
        February 25, 2016 at 2:57 am

        Who needs a garden when you can print your food…

        http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/06/tech/innovation/foodini-machine-print-food/

        • Petunia
          February 25, 2016 at 7:03 am

          I don’t need no stinkin garden. I’m saving up to buy Glenn Beck’s food insurance. When the whole world collapses, UPS will bring my food right to my door.

        • polecat
          February 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm

          RIGHT!!!!!!!———————the happy/shiny star trek future….NOT !!

    • CrazyCooter
      February 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      I have a very unique opportunity that I am holding on to for dear life, but all things have a cost. One of them, in this case, is a farmers market or a chance to have a garden. Your story just reflects on what people know and where they come from (i.e. they don’t get it on average).

      My fondest memories as a child are coming home from school and raiding my old man’s garden. I used to take my shirt tail, hold it, and fill it with mild peppers, tomatoes, and anything that looked good at that moment in time (but never more than I could eat). I would pull the shirt tail up over my spoils (it was my basket in a sense), sneak in the house, and head to the shitter where I would eat my spoils (busy house – only privacy and chance to not get caught).

      This is really funny because my dad was fussing about his plants not putting out as they had in previous years. Eventually I got caught and he figured out where the produce was going, but it was later in the year (he was a finance major and had logs of production – he was down some percent YoY).

      Must be genetic. That said gardens are the best and everyone with a seven figure wealth should take on such a simple and deeply rewarding task. Some people are so poor all they have is money. I hope to have one again one day – I feel poor!

      Regards,

      Cooter

      • polecat
        February 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        I’m RICH i tells yah…………..in blueberries !!

        • polecat
          February 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          “This Suckers’ Goin Down”…………………….to the garden compost bin!

      • Bigfoot
        March 3, 2016 at 8:30 pm

        Good land, good water, & good health to do something about it. A true blessing!

        In 2001, after shedding the few employees I had, dropping the appropriate amount of customers, & scaling back my workload to about 3 days a week, I had time to grow a huge garden.

        Soil structure on my plot is sandy so I had to import a lot of organic matter to build it up (horse/cow manure & wood shavings). I had a dump truck & equipment so it was relatively easy for me. My Dad, in his early 80’s at the time was still gardening & I did some massive prep for him as well. He grew up on a sharecropper farm in IL through the depression years. Any way, his corn that year was 9′ tall & fantastic. He was so proud he had to send pics up north to show the relatives he still had it after all these years (green thumb). Fond memories.

        I did all my prep the summer before, tested my soils & come fall, sewed winter rye. In the spring, I almost tilled my planting areas but noticed an extreme lack of weeds & knew if I tilled, that would change. I grew crops in blocks (John Jeavons bio intensive style) & manually scraped troughs to be seeded, leaving the rye in place. I had to do very little weeding due to this process. Not something I read about in a book, just a natural discovery & thought I’d pass it on.

        I did a lot of canning that year, got into making my own tomato sauces, & bread, & ate may fine meals out of that garden. I had so much surplus that a few neighbors & friends also enjoyed the bounty. I started some raised beds 2 years ago. Probably the older I get, the higher the raised beds will become :)

    • LG
      February 25, 2016 at 1:23 am

      Amen big foot!

  6. Cameron
    February 24, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    There never has been a true recovery from the GFC induced recession as we have an ongoing weak and struggling real economy.

    The Federal Funds rate being reduced to near zero, way below the norm is ridiculous. It was supposedly an emergency measure and we have had about 7 years of ZIRP plus QE ONE, TWO AND THREE. Sound economies do not need 7 years of emergency monetary policies of this magnitude or duration.

    Then there was the recent absolute hysteria about the DEC 17 2015 FED Funds target rate increase which in the grand scheme of things was absolutely miniscule.
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20151216a1.htm

    You would have thought it was being increased to 4.25% there was so much hand wrenching going on. So much for a sound real economy. A sound economy does not need monetary policy running like this.

    There has been no recovery in the real economy and just blowing up asset prices in particular sectors ( the FED does this time and again) to absurd levels with years of QE and ZIRP monetary policies is not economic recovery and does not actually produce anything or cause productive investment but, rather, asset speculation and a severe mis-allocation of capital.

    Then we have the phony official US real GDP figures published each quarter with much fanfare and then much more quietly adjusted later on as the initial estimates are rarely correct. The problem with these numbers of course is that the inflation factor used to adjust the nominal dollar GDP for price inflation is completely bogus and is very much understated. Consequently, when you use an artificially low inflation factor you end up with an overstated real GDP result and everyone is kidding themselves as to what is actually happening with GDP. How then you can make sensible economic policy decisions when you are playing with distorted data which does not give you the true picture? When you see a GDP real growth figure below one percent the true picture is most likely negative.

    Announced USA Real(inflation adjusted) GDP Growth for 2015:

    Quarter 1 Minus 0.2%
    Qtr 2 + 3.7% (adjusted after initial estimates were announced at +2.3%)
    Qtr 3 + 2.0 %
    Qtr 4 + 0.7 % (estimate only , these will be adjusted) http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2016/pdf/gdp4q15_adv.pdf

    • DV
      February 25, 2016 at 5:50 am

      You are absolutely right about bogus statistics. But more impotant is to understand where all this came from. First, this was as a result of Bush’ war on “terrorism” (which was in fact a consequence of Clinton’s ealier support of the very same “terrorism”), when billions were thrown in the air without much achievement, which had to be borrowed thereafter (or rather printed) during Obama’s years. The side effect of those wars was the spike in oil prices, which ultimately tipped the global economy into the Great Recession. So then came the “shale revolution”, driven by the purely political consideration of getting rid of energy dependence on the Middle East. The “revolution” was in itself without any solid foundation, pretty much like renewables. As energy prices corrected, it has become clear that niether can exist without huge subsidies. The shale production was uneconomical from the very begging, meaning that it did not make economic sense in terms of energy consumed for the production. So sooner or later someone had to pay for this, i.e. money spent on non-productive investment. Then what we have in addition is Obama’s international policy, which by the end of his second term has become as biligerent as that of Bush, requiring still higher funding. This, of course, was explained by the fact that US should “regain” ground lost, while it was in the Great Recession. So we now seem to have come a full circle, except that the government debt (which now includes a lot of private debt taken on ealier) is now well in excess of 100% GDP and growing!

    • Jonathan
      February 25, 2016 at 8:38 am

      You are living in a deflationary world, if you somehow live in an alternate dimension with these CBs and economists where you eat consumer electronicsas food and drink crude as water.

      • ucde
        February 25, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Its quite unfortunate that the one economic indicator/heuristic people generally have any confidence discussing is inflation/deflation. I find it to be a blinkered explanatory paradigm which people reach out to because its one of the only things that easily understandable… movements in prices…

        But what is often reported as inflation is actually monopolistic price gouging on the part of oligopolies/near monopolies. Wolf mentioned this in a comment about the American healthcare industry. An increase in healthcare prices does not reflect a depreciation in the value of the currency, but rather the fact that in the US healthcare suppliers can jack up their prices without anyone having an alternative.

        The same is true of rent and housing, where there is basically a vast open conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of people, whose unspoken ethos is to keep rent and home prices high. Increases in the cost of rent under these circumstances indicate successful market capture by “Market Forces” — in my analysis the inevitable outcome of free market rapture.

        Rule of the market ends up as rule of the “Market Forces” which end up being the biggest and baddest players. Think of how many companies Apple and Google and Yahoo and IBM and Facebook have swallowed, small fledgling companies that may have needed to be acquired for funding reasons, given our government’s unwillingness to fund startups (why?). Now their ideas get swallowed up into the belly of enormous corporate hegemons.. because the “market” couldn’t support their early unprofitable phase, the “market” will tolerate them only if they are buoyed up by FANG monster cash-streams. What were those principles of free market enterprise we so admired? How the little guy can always disrupt an industry, if he focuses enough on quality and providing value? Oh yeah and increasingly, if he makes the right friends…very powerful friends..

        Our current cash-starved environment its like a world that has somehow selectively removed a crucial vitamin from all of its foodstuffs. Everyone is walking around basically withering on the vine. Then there are the few cartels who control access to this vitamin (which is 1s and 0s in a bank account) and they are so full up with it, that they are literally getting sick from having too much of it. For christ sake, we can’t even fund startups in this country without making them bow before Wall Street and VC.

  7. Baboo
    February 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    The Chemical Activity Barometer slipped in February.

    • polecat
      February 25, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      You mean of the hallucinatory kind ??

  8. Kreditanstalt
    February 24, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    This is all so silly…

    Even “a recession” is so very technically defined – “two quarters of negative GDP” (or some such…) – as if that resulting number, based itself on a contorted, manipulated, paper dollar-denominated, subjective “measurement” of “GDP”, means anything…

    Only someone wedded to “aggregate” statistics and to the idea that central planning can measure anything at all could impute any meaning to such meaningless number-worship…

    Even IF one gives credence to the idea that “GDP”, in the aggregate, can even BE measured, and that THIS Fed-crunched number represents that measurement, it is truly stretching credulity to assert that “+0.1%” has any real-world difference to “-0.1%”…

    Meanwhile, among the serfs on Main Street…

    • February 25, 2016 at 12:40 am

      On the other hand, we can all just make up our own numbers as we go.

      • Toddy
        February 25, 2016 at 3:02 am

        There are lies, and damned lies, and then…. there are statistics.

      • Kreditanstalt
        February 25, 2016 at 10:32 am

        On the other hand, we can all open our eyes and ears, walk the streets, ask questions of our neighbours, watch store traffic and draw logical conclusions of our own via observation.

        • February 25, 2016 at 11:08 am

          Yes, but many places are BOOMING, including the Bay Area where I live. So my views of the national economy would be tainted by the boom around me.

          There may be cracks appearing in the Bay Area, and I’m just in the process of writing about them, but using my own field of vision doesn’t give me the national picture. Because if you live in Oklahoma, things are decidedly NOT booming. And even if you live in the Bay Area, you may well be excluded from the boom, and all you’re stuck with are the high prices.

          Whether we like it or not, we’re stuck with sorting through the data that others collect and publish if we want to get a feel for what is going on in the overall aconomy.

          I agree with you that GDP is a terrible measure of an economy. But that’s the measure we have, and that people have agreed to use and discuss. So until something better becomes the standard, we’ll have to live with GDP.

          I’m more a fan of per-capita GDP, which represents the economy the way people are feeling it. In an economy that grows 1% (GDP) when the population grows 1.5%, per-capita GDP is negative. And that represents a better look at reality.

  9. Mike R.
    February 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

    There are a number of fascinating intersections of world affairs occuring right now that didn’t exist in 08/09. And as indicated above, nothing has improved structurally from an economic standpoint; most is much worse off.

    Some of the issues:

    1) The Saudis are ‘acting out’ against parent US (Obama). It is not clear how far they will go with this over and above the oil production piece. Would they renounce the Petro Dollar?
    Will they send troops into Syria?

    2) Iran has stated they will sell oil in Euros. No retribution (yet) from Obama/US. Is this the final crack in the Petro Dollar?

    3) Another round of US QE will further alienate other countries from King Dollar. Yes, we’re the least dirty shirt, but we also have a very enviable/unfair advantage. How much more dollar printing will the world accept?

    3) China is a mess. Japan is more of a mess. Europe is a mess. All well known and acknowledge messes. Wasn’t the case in 08/09. This makes the dollar stronger and imports deflation to the US; totally opposite of what the Fed wants.

    4) Obama is checked out. See the State of Union address? He’ll do a few things here and there but mainly expect his ‘staff’ to keep things between the ditches.

    I’m sure there are more. But these alone make this a totally different ball game. I expect those ‘running the show’ are also burned out, tired of the whole game. This is when things fall apart. There is only so much one person can do and when the President has checked out, it gets really hard to stay motivated.

    Like most above and for the above listed differences, I see a very high probability of an economic crisis this year. It will be as big as 08/09 and probably bigger.

  10. Julian the Apostate
    February 25, 2016 at 10:58 am

    An interesting mix of commentary. Petunia, that 2K punch in the nose must have really stung. I happen to share your view of gardening my parents and grandparents were all gardeners every summer. I got to do all the grunt work. I did it but never had the gardening gene. It was a good lesson however in the fall I enjoyed the fresh food as much as anyone. I hated lumping freight in my chosen profession but I did it because it went with the job. These days the company pays for lumpers and I no longer have to do it. Postponing gratification is a lost art these days.

    • polecat
      February 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      I live 100 miles from Seattle, Wa. ………………..let me tell you, things are definitely NOT booming here…….hence, the garden, laying hens, bees , fruiting trees/shrubs, etc., etc. ……..

      • polecat
        February 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm

        Not something I can imagine Billy Gates doing…too dirty for his liking, or just not the right kind of dirt, perhaps………..

        although I’ll bet he clips ‘white roses’ on the mansion grounds…….

  11. polecat
    February 25, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    and may the odds be so ever in his ilks favour !!!

  12. interesting
    February 25, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    “when instead manufacturing started slowing in early 2015”

    started?? it “started” Q3 2014 and by Q1 2015 it was as if somebody turned off a switch and it’s been recession ever since.

    i am off to a great start in 2016 however.

    • February 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Do you have a manufacturing firm, or run one? If yes, could you give me some hints about your sector?

      • prepalaw
        February 26, 2016 at 1:29 am

        For 35+ years, I have overseen a MI-based co, which designs, manufactures, installs and services proprietary warehouse packing and processing equipment, machinery and systems for large corps in the US and Canada, as well as privately-held companies. We are really in the automation business, permanently destroying 2 human jobs on a production line per 8-hour shift with every new system installed.

        Our business is steady. The backbone of our business is the special 24/7 service we offer plant managers and their operators to keep downtime to a minimum. The results for 2016 will be the same as 2015 and a tad lower than 2014. Some of our service techs spend 6 months a year on the road and get W-2s just shy of 6 figures. Simply stated, we make the best equipment in this niche business and deliver the best service.

        • February 26, 2016 at 1:51 am

          Thanks for the info.

          High quality at the right price in a good niche will always do well. Glad it’s going well for you. The fact that even this business seems flat to slightly down (compared to 2014) seems reflective of much of what we have seen in our economy.

    • February 25, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks again for getting in touch via email.

  13. Blackbox
    February 25, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Below is a bit of observation to add to your market intel. I live in Oklahoma City. The news has obviously been negative with shale companies announcing and carrying out large layoffs on what seems to be an increasingly urgent schedule. I never got on board that boat as my dad told me a story about how he almost got on that board in the 80s right before the bust and was glad to have stayed on shore.

    Overall the economy here is still moving forward in some areas (home sales, car sales seem fair.) They are building many huge gas stations and office buildings around here. But at the same time I’ve noticed 3 of my favorite restaurants went out of business in the last 2 months. These were well liked and used to be very busy. Coincidence? Unlikely. Meanwhile I have friends in commercial real estate here that are beginning to voice a cautious alarm.

    I follow this site, ZH, Bloomberg and CNBC daily. Trying to get a balanced diet of news from all sides. The bears have this right, the only question is how big and bad it gets. I’ve read an armful of economic books and tend to believe the demographic cliff by Dent is on the mark. Demographics are setup for commodities, equities & PMs to grind lower for the next 5 to 10 years. To an extent I’d put oil in that category. It seems an artificial floor may have been reached as we are basically at full storage capacity and have no place to put anymore supply (not at Cushing anyway.) If supply could physically grow any more we might go lower…?

    That doesn’t leave much to invest in these days. Treasuries and small entry level rental units seem like the place to be for now. Outside of that, starting an actual productive business in a recession proof niche might be the only path to wealth (imagine that.)

  14. ERG
    February 26, 2016 at 9:18 am

    The Big Picture Number – GDP – just came in at +1 % for Q4.

    There goes the narrative again…

    • February 26, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Yes, 1% annualized is very slow. It’s half of the already very slow 2% growth that US is been mired in. The US population is growing at a rate of almost 1%. So per-capita GDP is about flat. And that’s what the economy feels like.

      • Michael Gorback
        February 26, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        I don’t want to belabor the discussion of the flaws of GDP much more, but if you look at the numbers consumer spending was down and what brought the number up was a lower than expected decline in inventories. So it seems to me that we’re saying hooray stuff didn’t move off the shelves

        • February 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm

          Yes, indeed! If you remember, I started lambasting the rising inventories a year ago. It’s getting worse and worse. I’ll probably do another article next time the new “business inventory” numbers come out (in a couple of weeks). They’ll have the all-important inventory-sales ratio, and it looks HORRIBLE.

  15. Jonathan
    February 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

    This morning I overheard some PBoC chief saying something about China’s economy is “structurally sound” and they have “plenty of ammunition”. Plenty indeed, for the upcoming weapons of mass distraction and nationalism-pandering South China Sea war.

    • Michael Gorback
      February 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Well there you go. We now have the official denial.

  16. Yannick
    March 3, 2016 at 5:51 am

    just a thought on the current employment increase. It seems like service industry just behaves like oil industry: given a lower income perspective, those that can maybe try to multiply openings to still show an increase in EBITDA and keep their access to the credit markets.

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