LEAVING AMERICA IN THE DUST

15 04 2008

A new world order as US sinks

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Marcus Walker, James Hookway and James T. Areddy | April 04, 2008

HERE’S a big lesson of the first international financial crisis of the 21st century: some old-fashioned economies are weathering the storm better than those that borrowed big to spur growth or those that bet heavily on debt-strapped American consumers.

The US, the economy at the centre of the turmoil, is dragging down world growth. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave his most pessimistic assessment to date of the US economy’s outlook, strongly suggesting that a recession was likely.

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“A recession is likely”!? Yeah, about as likely as the nose on your face….meanwhile, from those crazy Trotskyites:

Recession takes hold in US

By Barry Grey
15 April 2008

The US stock market plunged Friday on news that General Electric’s first-quarter 2008 profits fell far below the company’s projections. Long considered among the most gilt-edged of stocks, GE shares fell 13 percent, their sharpest one-day drop since the stock market collapse of October 1987.

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You think the Trotskyites are biased?  How ’bout the New York Times?

April 15, 2008

Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies

The consumer spending slump and tightening credit markets are unleashing a widening wave of bankruptcies in American retailing, prompting thousands of store closings that are expected to remake suburban malls and downtown shopping districts across the country.

Since last fall, eight mostly midsize chains — as diverse as the furniture store Levitz and the electronics seller Sharper Image — have filed for bankruptcy protection as they staggered under mounting debt and declining sales.

But the troubles are quickly spreading to bigger national companies, like Linens ‘n Things, the bedding and furniture retailer with 500 stores in 47 states. It may file for bankruptcy as early as this week, according to people briefed on the matter.

Even retailers that can avoid bankruptcy are shutting down stores to preserve cash through what could be a long economic downturn. Over the next year, Foot Locker said it would close 140 stores, Ann Taylor will start to shutter 117, and the jeweler Zales will close 100.

The surging cost of necessities has led to a national belt-tightening among consumers. Figures released on Monday showed that spending on food and gasoline is crowding out other purchases, leaving people with less to spend on furniture, clothing and electronics. Consequently, chains specializing in those goods are proving vulnerable.

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Remember “The Domino Effect”? And no, I don’t mean how nostalgic people get when they hear “Blueberry Hill.”

NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) – The vacancy rate at U.S. strip malls rose to the highest level since 1996 in the first quarter of 2008, while that for big malls reached levels unseen since 2002, research firm Reis said on Friday.

The amount of space occupied by retailers fell for the first time since Reis began tracking the sector in 1980.

“Retailers are grappling with the implications of the housing and job market downturns for consumer activity, with the result that retail sector fundamentals — occupancy and rent levels — are being strained by anemic demand for space,” Reis chief economist Sam Chandan said in statement.

Strip mall vacancies rose 0.2 percentage points from the preceding quarter to 7.7 percent.

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And, speaking of “biased,” we all know that uber-liberal CNN has an axe to grind.  Why do they hate America?  Check this out:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — There is little debate about whether the U.S. economy is in a recession. The question is how painful and long the downturn will be.

There is a growing fear among some economists that the recession will be particularly bad.

“We just can’t believe it’s going to be short. The question is how bad can it get? The situation is moving more towards severe than towards mild,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the firm that officially determines when recessions begin and end, the last two recessions (2001 and 1990-1991) each lasted 8 months.

But Sinai and other economists cited numerous economic headwinds, including tight credit, falling home prices and mounting losses for banks, as reasons why this downturn could last longer and be more painful than seen in those last two recessions, with more job losses and a sharper drop in economic activity.

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