The US economy is levelling out, according to the Fed. The Second Greatest Recession ever is no longer. Wall Street dined out on the Fed’s statement early this morning, rebounding from the biggest fall in a month the day before. Basically the sentiment went: “It’s over, Fed says it’s over”.

The market has been yelling that now for months, redisovering risk and all the bad old trading habits. Commodities are rising, speculators are being pilloried by politicians and the US deficit is growing while thankless bankers take home billions of dollars in compensation, all financed by the lowest interest rates on record.

The Fed said it will slow the pace of its $US300 billion program to buy US Treasuries and anticipates that the full amount will be purchased by the end of October, not September as previously stated. But while that’s helped pump $US258 billion into the US economy in what’s called Quantitative Easing, it hasn’t held US interest rates down: they’ve risen from around 2.50% for the 10 year bond around March 18, when the Fed announced its policy switch, to a high of 3.99% in June and 3.71% overnight.

Here’s a check list of other figures to remind us of just where the US economy is placed.

$US27 billion: America’s trade deficit in June, a rise of 4%. Bulls saw 2% rise in exports to $US125.8 billion as a big tick. Imports rose 2.3% to $152.8 billion mainly because of the 30%-plus in oil prices in the month. Yep, its back to the bad old days of 2007 and early 2008.

6.7 million: that’s how many people have lost their jobs in the US since the recession started in December, 2007.

90%: the level of US economic activity accounted for by the service sector … with consumer spending falling at a 1.2% annual rate in the second quarter, and household confidence down in July, its no wonder service industries again shrank last month, according to the Institute of Supply Management.

$US165 billion: Moody’s estimate of the value of commercial property mortgages to be refinanced in 2009.

70,000: the size of the International Energy Agency’s upward revision to its 2010 estimate of daily global oil use

85.25 million: number of barrels of oil used each day.

1.8%: the fall in 2009 from 2008 US petrol consumption.

200,000: the rise in US oil consumption by barrel in 2010, from 18.4m b/d, to 18.6m b/d. That’s a rise of 5.4% on 2008, while 2010’s estimate is up just 0.9% on this year.

61.7: days in the buffer of oil stocks in developed countries at the end of June, steady on May’s figure.

1,000,000: number of barrels a day diesel demand has dropped by this year, perhaps the most telling of all the statistics issued overnight. Diesel (or distillate) is basically an industry fuel (with rising demand from automotive users) used in transport (cars, trucks and ships) and power. Demand was high up to the end of last year with mining going full bore, then slowing

0.6%: the surprise size of the fall in eurozone industrial output in June after a similar rise in May. Oops.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%