Economic glass: Half-full or half-empty?

Is the economy really starting to turn? Or is it an illusion?

Consider:

– Metro Atlanta home prices are stabilizing, with at least one expert bullish on the upcoming quarter.

Consumer confidence and consumer spending are up.

– The Dow is approaching 11,000.

But, there are still lots of problems.

Unemployment is very high, there are five job seekers for every opening in Atlanta and foreclosures are still setting records.

So, how do you see things?

Slow, steady progress? Continued trouble on the horizon? Both at the same time?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

92 comments Add your comment

TnGelding

March 31st, 2010
9:35 am

TnGelding

March 31st, 2010
9:36 am

Summary: half full.

Ron

March 31st, 2010
10:42 am

Less than half-full. The housing numbers and consumer spending numbers are simply reflecting some variation at their current record low levels. Today, these variations are in the positive direction. Tomorrow they could very well be in the negative direction. It’s statistics and and using these stats to predict economic behavior is like milking mice. There ain’t a whole lot there. Now, if consecutive periods show positive increase then we have something to talk about.

The real important stat is the unemployment figures for – the nation, Georgia and Atlanta. Some argue that we’ll have a jobless recovery. Basic economic models don’t support that thinking. We may bottom out and see a slow, small, stagnating recovery from the bottom but with our high unemployment a significant recovery is highly unlikely.

During the past week I’ve spoke with business people, real estate people, legal people, banking people and consulting people. None of these see any rebounding in the economy. Everyone is cautious about the economy. Everyone is both mad and frightened by the government.

Mr. Obvious

March 31st, 2010
11:12 am

The ‘Economic Glass’ suddenly became HALF-FULL last week for all the lazy, stupid, shiftless, bottom-feeding leeches of our society when King Obama gave them all free healthcare on the backs on those of us who actually work for a living and contribute something (of POSITIVE value) back to society.

Those losers can take their so-called “Hope” and shove it STRAIGHT UP those same rectums on which they spend all day sitting.

GPB

March 31st, 2010
11:23 am

Housing numbers are likely masked by the tax credit. When it ends, watch it come back down.

I don’t see employment returning anytime soon. Now that most companies have found they were able to trim fat, new businesses will have to open up to employ people. Construction should likely stay down as people continue to purchase existing homes rather than go new. Landscaping might see a rebound and some people would be employed from that but not many.

I think it matters too what the skills are of the unemployed. Are they lawyers, construction, teachers, fresh from school students, lesser educated workforce? Jobs are great but if we create jobs that don’t serve the unemployed, then it’s just silly.

Things will get worse before they get better.

Yup

March 31st, 2010
11:25 am

Just wait till the commercial real estate bubble bursts… that will be tragic.

Economy

March 31st, 2010
11:27 am

The recent surge in shopping is simply the results of tax refunds. Don’t get too excited. That money will run out faster than the paper it was printed on. The economy still sux. Until there are jobs, 45 million people in this country will still be eating beenie weenies and ramen noodles. And for them, hitting the mall actually translates to digging through racks at Goodwill.

BTC

March 31st, 2010
11:29 am

Still way too many houses in inventory as well as developed lots. The banks aren’t showing these on their books. There is still a VERY long way to go.

Tom

March 31st, 2010
11:30 am

cant get me a job. can you get me a job?

bobby1976

March 31st, 2010
11:33 am

Cant help myself….saw the Pulte sign on the front page. DONT BUY PULTE….their homes stink!

David

March 31st, 2010
11:37 am

Economy is bad, what few homes that sell are due to such low prices, jobs are still very hard to come by. I own my own buisness and I work for commercial customers and they are giving away stuff at cost just to keep cash flow coming in no huge profits, that has to change first before our economy changes and more jobs become availble.

Jerry

March 31st, 2010
11:38 am

I almost have my house paid off! Once I do I will put it in my elderly mothers name, see that I get fired from my job and collect unemployment, foodstamps and get free healthcare.
Why work? When I can live off the system, instead of paying into a sytem that covers all the deadbeats!

nevermind

March 31st, 2010
11:39 am

I agree…the housing market still sucks…only investors are out there buying up foreclosed properties and renting them back to the homeowners who lost them. No real stablization in the housing market at all.
The recent increase in spending- TWO WORDS: TAX REFUND, that is all!

jd

March 31st, 2010
11:44 am

EVERY major newspaper in the country failed to report the ongoing criminal housing Ponzi scheme while it was happening. It’s still happening, and the newspapers, like the rest of the important institutions in our society, look the other way while the criminal bankers and the craven housing “industry” continue their house flipping madness.

Are we out of the woods? He!! no.

Is it that Obvious?

March 31st, 2010
11:46 am

Mr. Obvious. You seem to be a little angry. Maybe some classes will on dealing with your emotions may help. Now, god forbid if you ever lose your job you can still get that help. Is that plan the best thing in the world. NO!!! But is it better than nothing? Yes. Will it need to be tweaked? Yes. What do you say to the families who can’t get healthcare for their loved ones even when they do work and make positive contributions to society? I have a friend whose brother played foot ball in college very healthy. Found out he had cancer, now he is past the age where his parents insurance can cover him and no one will insure him because of his preexisting condition. It’s bankrupting his family…… What do you say to them? Tough? Remember the saying “But for the Grace of God go I? Try to remember that from time to time.
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of bottom dwellers that will benefit but they are not the only ones. Trust me I am pissed too, I just did my taxes and my bill is 62k.

GPB

March 31st, 2010
11:49 am

“Why work? When I can live off the system, instead of paying into a system that covers all the deadbeats!” – Jerry

Because living like that sounds like it sucks. I assume you (like me) would prefer a better quality of life if it was available to you. And I don’t know if Georgia allows you to collect unemployment if you have been fired for reasons that are your fault.

jd

March 31st, 2010
11:52 am

We will be on the way to a true recovery (new, healthy economy) when the AJC fires that guy who has written a real estate column for them every Sunday for at least the last decade. He is nothing but a craven mouthpiece for the realtors and builders, but is suppose to offer “expert” advice for the reading public.

This is the kind of obvious conflict of interests that has killed the mainstream media.

BC

March 31st, 2010
11:53 am

Hey YUP, that’s already happened. especially in the Central Business District.

It’s a great time to start a business, space is cheap right now, and people taking advantage of that is what will get us put of this. We have to have more jobs.

msniss

March 31st, 2010
11:54 am

It’s called Income Tax Returns…..as to why all this big spending is goin on everybody got a little money in their pocket round about now.

Jerry

March 31st, 2010
11:55 am

To GPD

It’s called, hide your assets! And, there are ways to get fired without it appearing to be ones fault.
Furthermore, not saying that I’d really do it, but there are those that will have their own sleezy ways to live off the system.

Libby

March 31st, 2010
11:55 am

“King Obama gave them all free healthcare on the backs on those of us who actually work for a living and contribute something (of POSITIVE value) back to society.”

How dare you talk about our President like he is common royalty! His name is ObamaGod and we shall follow him! Hail ObamaGod Hail!

J

March 31st, 2010
11:58 am

Stocks are higher because corporations have been more profitable by the force of downsizing. Unemployment is around 13%, and that’s what is being reported. The number of people underemployed or on a part time basis is very high. Only a small percentage of the population has the credit and job security needed to purchase a home. I am a real estate agent in South Carolina…. I truly expect housing to worsen as the tax credit deadline nears and the shadow wave of foreclosures begin to surface. My glass is half empty and I am afraid it will be that way for about 2.5 to 3 years. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Ha

March 31st, 2010
12:00 pm

It’s an illusion!!!! These people out spending are using Credit that they probably will never pay back! But guess who will? That’s right…the responsible ones who pay taxes and have good credit!!

jd

March 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

Profitable vs. productive. Many of our major corporations have become profitable but not productive (i.e. off shoring jobs).

All of our fundamentals are wrong-the nutty teabaggers, Tim Geithner/Larry Summers, Obama’s persistent desire for bipartisanship (wasn’t that concept destroyed during the Reagan years?), Repubilcan “leadership” (what a joke), Democratic “leadership” (more tea sir?) and the complete failure of our leadership in just about every sector and level of our society.

Wow! Isn’t that what they called a failed culture? Failed state to come next.

Drevilo

March 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

When a business like Myfield Dairy raises the price of an ice cream cone from $1.50 to $2.50 at their “Store” in Braselton, GA you know there is something very wrong with the thinking of their management. If the economy were jumping this could be expected, but its not. Mostly children and elderly shop at this “Mayfield Store.” Very sick thinking in my humble opinion, and this increase should be eliminated before the kids start showing up on the buses for the Dairy tour.

The Economy

March 31st, 2010
12:08 pm

Half Empty, there is a 2nd wave of foreclosures coming that will dwarf the SubPrime mess. Obama isnt at fault for the current state of the economy, it goes back 4 Presidents ago. Obama is a Socialist, the damage he is doing will be felt for years, even after we overturn everything hes done, and vote him out of office. Speaking of office, theres a huge commercial foreclosure wave happening, will take down more banks with it. You cant have a jobless recovery, any 2nd year economics major could tell you that. People havent learned to live within there means, still spending like idiots. It’s all right, I’m gonna pick up some nice investment properties over the next 12 months. PS, if you live in an apartment, and ur driving a 50k car, you will never get it. glta

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:08 pm

Double Dip. Once the tax credits run out the housing market will cool again. It seems to me more than 10% of people are unemployed. I have friends who are ‘unemployed’ and other friends who are stocking shelves. The economy is bad. As long as we are stupid and our population spends more than we bring in, our corporations spend more than they bring in, and our government spends more than it can bring in, then we are in SERIOUS trouble. But we are a live for today nation of fools. As long as the government keeps bailing us out, we won’t change our behavior and this cycle will continue to repeat. We should have just taken it on the chin. That would have changed behavior and maybe saved future generations.

CL

March 31st, 2010
12:10 pm

I have never seen such ignorance. Corporate America has raped us over and over to the point where they have shipped away jobs, received all manner of illicit tax breaks from states and feds, failed to sustain their own business which we had to bail out, and you still wanna blame Obama?

The reason people have ANY money is because the stimulus has provided an 8,000 incentive to purchase homes, not because banks are lending anything……..but all of you keep hollaring Obama like the idiot savants that you are. You dont have to vote for or like him, but at least give some credit. At least he isnt pissing away party money at the stripclub like your boys are.

Jerry

March 31st, 2010
12:13 pm

As a result of the healthcare bill, property taxes in the southern states will increase in order to fund the lack of revenue the states will incurr.
Historically, southern states have paid lower taxes because the state did not have to offset medicare, unlike the northern states that have huge taxes.

Lance

March 31st, 2010
12:15 pm

Economy and The Economy. You both are so dead on the money! And yes, I agree, How can you have a recovery with the jobless rate we have now. I reccomend Dave Ramsey to EVERYONE!!! the truth will set you free folks. Get out of debt now and live stress free.

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:17 pm

Watch out! The liberal Obama sheep will be coming soon…..Here they come. BAH BAH BAH!

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:19 pm

Corporate American is the Debil! Liberal Politicians will save us all. Corporate America is corrupt. There is no corruption in government. BAAAAAAH BAAAAH BAH!

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

Corporate America has you all fooled, but Liberal Politicians are all honest and care about you. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Libby

March 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

How dare the AJC take the picture down of the of the Real Houswives of Atlanta out for their daily shopping fix! Those women are the ones who are helping the econmy, and thanks to free ObamaCare they can now afford to go to the mall and shop! Americans can now spend money because the government is going to take care of everyone except rich Republicans!

Tom

March 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

its an illusion. Where are you getting your information from? CNN, trying doing some more research dude.

The Economy

March 31st, 2010
12:25 pm

Lance, you are 100%, live like no one else, so you can live like no one else. Love D. Ramsey, if you fallow his advise, your life would be as good as mine. I could have bought a 600k-900k house, but I didnt. Live in a modest house 220k+ paid off. Cars are older and paid for. Wife and I were making 250k in 2006, last year we made under 90K. Didnt bother us in the least, cuz we got NO DEBT! We saved, now we will capitalize on this mess, maybe a bigger house, will pay in cash 350k for a house that was selling for 700k in 2008. Maybe buy a couple of rental, no sure yet. But the fact of the matter is, we lived below our means, saved, and now we will reap the rewards. I had friends who lived WAY beyound the incomes, house GONE, new cars GONE, credit cards and scores GONE, marriages on the rocks, AND I WORNED THEM FOR YEARS WHAT WAS COMING, o’well. You can lead a horse….. never mind, stupid is as stupid does.

David S

March 31st, 2010
12:29 pm

What isn’t empty is the cache of newly printed worthless Federal Reserve notes – nearly 3 trillion in the past year. I smell hyperinflation around the corner, and it won’t be pretty.

Nobody could possibly look at any of the economic signs and actually see recovery. Virtually every statistic is being propped up by government spending. Heck, even the Census jobs are just makework and are so numerous as to wonder what the hell any of them are doing every day. Real jobs and real growth require the private voluntary sector, not the parasitic government sector. Anything the government spends is either taken from the private sector or must be paid back by the private sector. The end of civilization as we know it has just been postponed. If that is good news, then rejoice. I would rather the free market be allowed to sort out the problems and begin a real recovery. But that’s just not in Obama’s play book (or that idiot Bernanke’s either).

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:30 pm

@The Economy, but, but….I need that large screen TV. The interest rate is only 4%!

c

March 31st, 2010
12:31 pm

Is Obama and the left leaning jack@#es still making decisions? You figure it out. We haven’t even begun to feel the destruction these fools and the fools who voted for them have created.

David S

March 31st, 2010
12:33 pm

For those of you complaining about inflation and blaming businesses, remember, inflation is a monetary phenomenon and has nothing to do with prices at the onset. The government is printing worthless money to pay its debts. Once that money gets fully into circulation, prices rise as a result. Business has no other choice but to pass on costs.

Blame the Federal Reserve. Audit the Federal Reserve. End the Federal Reserve!

Republicats

March 31st, 2010
12:33 pm

The government is veiling our HUGE financial woes in the form of new legislation and bailouts. The concealment will only last so long though and they’re hoping that’ll last to the next administration because Obama will not gain re-election. As someone who’s out of work I can tell you it’s bad out there.

Obammy Mammy

March 31st, 2010
12:34 pm

Is it that Obvious? @ 11:46am

Are you bitter because you and your “Domestic Partner” having been getting your “Life Partner” benefits to which you apparently feel you are entitled?

Do you get back down on your knees after showing your affection and pray to your “god” Obammy?

The Economy

March 31st, 2010
12:35 pm

Blame the Federal Reserve. Audit the Federal Reserve. End the Federal Reserve!

These are the MOST important words posted on here, understand that people. Good job.

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:39 pm

NO! It is the Republicans and Big Business. The leftest politicians are honest and wholesome!

Old McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:40 pm

Our country became terminally ill in January of 2009.

Atl Resident

March 31st, 2010
12:53 pm

EOld McDonald

March 31st, 2010
12:40 pm
Our country became terminally ill in January of 2009.

No, that happened when we stepped foot in Iraq. That’s where most of billions was first spent. But everyone knows that everyone is spending now cause of tax refunds from tax credits. Let’s measure this again when summer comes or better when unemployment constantly goes down. The media needs to keep it real with public.

I'm just sayin'.....

March 31st, 2010
12:56 pm

One thing is certain —Obama and the out-of-touch democrats have squandered an entire year on things that a majority of Americans say should be a low priority and on political pay-off to groups well outside the mainstream of American economic thinking. That year should have been spent improving the economy in a way that fosters free enterprise job creation. So far, the only job growth has been at the federal government level, where most people are overpaid, underworked, and unaccountable for results (you know who you are and you know it’s true). A negative view? You bet! Light at the end of the tunnel? Absolutely. November can’t come soon enough for those of us who still believe in free enterprise.

Libby

March 31st, 2010
12:57 pm

“Our country became terminally ill in January of 2009″

Those people that got sick would feel much better if they switched from Tea to KoolAid! ;)

Lets be honest

March 31st, 2010
12:58 pm

WHEN UNEMPLOYMENT STARTS TO DECLINE, THEN LETS TALK…

#1 Foxy Lady

March 31st, 2010
1:00 pm

NOW THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS FIXED HEALTHCARE, IT’S ALL GOOD!!!

HE IS SOLVING ALL OF THE PROBLEMS. JOBS IS NEXT ON HIS “FIX-IT” LIST.

THANKS TO OBAMA THE GLASS IS MORE THAN FULL!!!