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Worst Economic Contraction Since Great Depression Headed Our Way

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Worst Economic Contraction Since Great Depression Headed Our Way

With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to worsen here in the US, Wall Street is growing increasingly pessimistic when it comes to our economy in the second quarter of the year.

Analysts have been systematically lowering their estimates for Q2 GDP as the coronavirus continues to spread and has caused numerous industries to either shut down completely or dramatically scale back operations.

On Wednesday, all three major US auto manufactures (Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler) said they will close all of their plants by the end of the month, with Ford closing all of its plants in the US, Canada and Mexico last night.

Seeing these massive shutdowns cascading through our economy has Wall Street forecasters predicting that Q2 will be the single worst economic contraction since the end of World War II. 

The worst annual contraction was 13% in 1932 when the economy cratered during the Great Recession and at least one politician thinks that’s where we are headed.

“The United States is facing what could become the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” says Rep. Don Beyer (D) from Virginia, who is vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress.

The worst quarterly contraction on record was in Q1 1958 when the economy shrank 10% during what is now called the “Eisenhower Recession.”

Today’s forecasts are for a historically bad Q2 GDP, worse than anything anyone has seen before.

The most pessimistic forecast is from JP Morgan, who predicts the economy will contract an eye-watering 14%. Following behind them is Deutsche Bank, who believe the economy will slide 13%.

The other banks predicting a double-digit decline are Oxford Economics which sees a 12% contraction and Capital Economics predicts a 10% drop.

There’s also no clear predictions on when the economy could boom again, as most agree that it is entirely dependent on how soon the coronavirus can be brought under control.

President Trump believes that once the spreading of the virus is under control, the economy will come back stronger than before.

During a speech yesterday he said “We’ll be back and I actually think we’ll be back stronger than ever before because we learned a lot during this period of time.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says the economy will “roar back” in Q4 once the worst of the outbreak has passed and we return to a “normal world.”

Some of the same banks that are incredibly pessimistic on Q2 GDP are optimistic for the second half of the year.

Deutsche Bank predicts the US will grow 5% in the second half of the year, as the country goes through a “sharp V-shaped dip in economic growth.

Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sach’s chief economist says he expects GDP growth of 3% in the third quarter and a 4% expansion in the final three months of the year. 

Of course, all of these predictions or estimates assume that the outbreak will be contained sometime in Q2. If that doesn’t happen, all bets are off for GDP growth for the second half of the year.

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

Earlier this week we discussed four common regrets that retirees have when they look back at their golden years. One of the most common regrets was filing for Social Security benefits at 62, the earliest possible age. According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 out of 3 people apply for benefits at that age.

The regret is that if they had waited longer to file for their benefits, their monthly check would be much larger. For example, by delaying filing for Social Security until age 70, your monthly benefits can be as much as 75% larger than someone who filed at age 62. That’s because benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that you delay your claim.

But there are always two sides to a coin. Today we wanted to discuss the benefits of filing for Social Security as soon as possible. With this, you can decide which approach you believe will benefit you the most.

The Case For Filing Social Security Early

The earliest you can file for Social Security benefits is age 62, but each month you file before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) cuts your monthly benefit amount. As an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start your claim at age 62, your monthly check will be reduced by approximately 30%.

Despite the reduced monthly benefit that comes with filing early, tens of millions of Americans make that decision every year. And it boils down to one line:

We have no idea what the future holds.

The financial benefits of waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security make complete sense. But we don’t know how long we will live, so we don’t know if the trade-off is worth it. If we knew we would live a long, healthy life until age 100, we would all delay filing until age 70 and reap the maximum reward.

But if you decided to wait until age 70 to claim, and unfortunately passed away before that, you would have foregone all the retirement income from age 62 on.

Waiting to file is a gamble, but so is giving up guaranteed monthly income starting at age 62.

Deciding when to claim your benefits requires serious thought and shouldn’t be a hastily made decision. And we aren’t saying that filing Social Security immediately at 62 or waiting until age 70 is the right choice. Every situation is different. If you are still healthy and working, waiting a few years passed 62 to claim but not all the way to 70 might be a good compromise. You’ll get a larger check than had you claimed right away, and your regular working income can make up for some of the reduced benefit amount since you didn’t wait until age 70.

The most important thing, whether you file at 62 or 70, is to find enjoyment in your golden years.

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the next stimulus bill will be much more targeted than previous bills. He also said the goal is to get the next bill approved between July 20 and the end of this month. That time is when Congress will return from their holiday break and before they leave for August recess.

On Broad Stimulus Measures

It appears the White House will not support the type of broad stimulus measures of the previous bills. Instead, it will focus on direct payments to Americans. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Mnuchin said “we do support another round” of stimulus checks to individuals. This mirrors the $1,200 payments that the government sent out as part of the $2 trillion rescue legislation passed in March.

Mnuchin didn’t mention whether he supported the idea of a $40,000 income cap to receive a check that has been floated by GOP lawmakers. The income cap for the first stimulus check was $75,000. He did say that he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also mentioned the “level and criteria” for checks would be discussed when lawmakers return to Washington.

Any new stimulus bill would likely not include proposals from the Democrats that include hazard pay for essential workers. It likely won’t include a longer extension of strengthened unemployment benefits, mortgage and rent relief, and support for state and local governments, too.

Mnuchin reiterated that the White House isn’t in favor of more relief money for states and municipalities to make up for lost revenue. Some state and local governments are considering trimming essential services as costs balloon and revenues drop. He said the administration does not want to “bail out” states that were “mismanaged” before the virus hit.

On Unemployment Benefits

Another critical topic the lawmakers will tackle the end of the enhanced unemployment benefits on July 30. They will do so when they return to Washington D.C.

Mnuchin said the White House has no interest in extending the enhanced benefits any further. Instead, he said it wants to change how they pay benefits. He did not give details. However, he did hint that unemployed workers shouldn’t be able to earn more money compared to full-time employees

“You can assume that it will be no more than 100%” of a worker’s usual pay, Mnuchin said. This echoes many Republicans who argue the additional benefits are preventing some from returning to work. These workers do this so that they make more at home than they would at their jobs.

While Mnuchin says the White House isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits, it is extending the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans for small businesses. Earlier this week the Trump administration released a list of companies that received loans from the government. With that, backlash ensued as numerous businesses tied to wealthy individuals were found to have requested funds. Of the $130 billion remaining in the program, Mnuchin said he wants new relief to be “much, much more targeted” than past rounds of funding.

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow says that the country is squarely in the middle of the “v-shaped” recovery that everyone had hoped for, and despite reports of coronavirus hotspots popping up, shutting down the economy for a second time would make the “solution worse than the disease.”

Kudlow spoke on “Fox and Friends” yesterday and said that the White House is monitoring the jump in new coronavirus cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but added that as a country we now know what works to stop the spread, and just need to work together.

“We know the right mitigation, which has worked, and if we use that wholeheartedly and respect each other, I think we’ll get out of this pretty well and it will not stop the V-shaped recovery.”

On A Second Shutdown

He added that a second shut down would be a “really big mistake.”

“Another shutdown, in itself is controversial,” and would “do more harm than good,” said Kudlow before adding, “It would harm everyone. Not just businesses — the V-shaped recovery would give way. It would harm kids, we saw numbers on depression, drinking and so on… that solution would be worse than the disease.”

Kudlow highlighted the job growth in the last two months, and pointed out that jobs are being added back so quickly, workers are now quitting jobs to search for new, higher-paying ones.

He said there existed a “tremendous burst of jobs in May and June” and “tremendous record hiring rates. People are starting to quit their jobs again, which is extraordinary, in order to shop around for better jobs and wages.”

All those workers looking for jobs should bring down the unemployment rate to as low as 7% iby the end of the year, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard.

That would be quite a rollercoaster ride for the job market, which has swung from a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5% earlier this year, to a post-WWII high of 14.7% in April.

U.S. Economy Doing “Very Well”

Appearing on “Closing Bell” yesterday, Bullard said “I think we’re tracking very well right now. Seems to me like by the end of the year you can get down certainly to single digits, probably even below 8%, maybe 7% by the end of the year.”

A surge in new cases could slow the re-hiring of workers across the country, but Bullard believes that wearing a mask will become standard and that will help bring back jobs and boost the economy.

“If we get to that situation, we’ll have the disease under control,” he said. “What I like about that scenario is it does not rely on a vaccine coming or a therapeutic coming. We can use simple, easy technology that we have today, get a good situation, get most of the production back to normal.”

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