First quarter 2016 Newsletter on selected US Economic Data
By: Thomas J Connolly
March 27, 2016
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”…. Theodore Roosevelt
We are at a crossroads with so many intersecting paths before us. The Global nature of our connectivity has never been more apparent. Influences of one country’s policies to another, of one country’s events to another, of the speed of information flow across borders, all coalesce around human emotion. In a calm environment we feel free to choose as our individual preferences lead us. We act according to our own set of untroubled individuality. But, throw in turmoil and uncertainty and people move together as a herd, falling back on past lessons and on emotion that is comforted by the sense of consensus. We become predictable.
The level of uncertainty that abounds around us, the complexity of the crossroads we currently face, are breathtaking. The volatility of the first three months of 2016 have deep underpinnings. They have not been solved or cured. Strong leadership and conviction, coupled with intelligence and respect have never been more important to our future. We all must recognize the role we need to play to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our actions as we fulfill our roles, coupled with the information below, may reflect the beginning of an inflection point to a higher place of growth and promise, or a continued glide path lower. If it is to be higher, we must find the will to be part of a global solution, otherwise we will find that being alone is a very unsatisfactory outcome when it comes to the key principles of human growth and joy.
The following economic data and discussion is like a report card of how we have weathered a great storm. We have moved away from the dramatic loss of growth that we experienced during the recent Great Recession, but we did not move into a period of sustainable productivity. That is what I see and what I try to share below. Central banks have acted as the Emergency Room team, but true recovery will require coordinated global political agreement and action, and that is the true challenge which is before us. I pray we navigate it well, and that the data sets below find positive change from handshakes across the world and a willingness to work together for the benefit of mankind, as well as our planet.