Dow Jones

Stat Of The Day: America's New Growth Industry

Time for our every-now-and-then-peek into the world of finance, fiscal policy and macroeconomics — and their affect on the body politic. The widely quoted Kent Engelke (see Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Dow Jones, etc.), the chief economics strategist and managing director of Richmond-based Capitol Securities Management, today wrote this in his daily morning commentary, regarding one of the causes of out-of-control government spending at all levels:

About twenty years ago government workers gained incredible power by being allowed to unionize demanding private sector pay while maintaining generous government benefits under the guise that such were required to attract top talent. Twenty years later I believe the pendulum has swung too far. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics total employer compensation costs are $27.73 per hour in business and $39.81 in state and local government. Wow! Great pay, great benefits and a small probability of losing one’s job. Something is amiss.

Amiss, indeed. In fact, while the private sector is losing jobs, the public sector is adding jobs. Thank you, "stimulus" bill.) The only thing it is stimulating is the growth of government. Six of the wealthiest localities in the country now are those on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., including: Fairfax, Arlington, Stafford and Prince William counties, as well as the city of Alexandria (see Forbes). Not that this has gone unnoticed by the public at large. As Engelke writes, there is a political consequence to the Left's promiscuous unionization of what once was known as public service:

As all polls suggest, most have little regard for Congress reflected by 15% approval ratings. The President’s approval ratings are the lowest of any President at this time in any administration. The major reasons — (lack of)  jobs and out of control fiscal spending.

Lack of jobs, that is, except for those in government, America's new growth industry.

Follow The Smart Money: Falling Obama Popularity And Political Rebuff Reflected In Stock Market Rise?

Kent Engelke is the chief economic strategist and managing director at Virginia-based Capitol Securities Management, and is one of the most quoted market experts in the country. His forecasts largely get it right. I get his daily Early Morning Commentary and today's had some compelling statistics that should alarm everyone. People, take heed. Using the stock market as the predictor it is, he asks why equities have experienced a rally of late. He posits a theory that investors think socialized medicine will not occur. He cites President Obama's own economic team's warnings of financial disaster if the deficit is not reduced substantially. (Of course, they always say that and spend and tax and print money anyway.)

But take this with more than a grain of salt:

The 2009 fiscal deficit was an astounding $1.4 trillion as spending increased from $3 trillion to $3.5 trillion while tax revenue fell from $2.5 trillion to $2.1 trillion. The debt is now at $12 trillion and is expected to grow by another $9 trillion over the next decade. [Dow Jones]

CBO is estimating spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over $700 billion over the next 10 years while health care legislation is conservatively estimated to add another $900 billion to the deficit. [Dow Jones]

But most alarming is this:

Incidentally and as per the Organization of Economic Corporation and Development today 42% of U.S. GDP is comprised of federal, state and local spending. Wow! We all know the efficiency of the government.

Mr. Engelke doesn't pontificate political often in his writings, so a letter devoted almost exclusively to our current situation is remarkable. He also notes that since the Obama administration, by general agreement (and even Saturday Night Live) "is steep in hype but low in accomplishments" and asks rhetorically whether the stock  market rally suggests "a backlash in government spending, perhaps even a reduction, because the President’s approval ratings are plummeting?"

According to the Rasmussen Report:

40% strongly disapprove of the president’s job performance. 27% strongly approve. Overall 47% approve of his actions while 53% disapprove, the second lowest ratings for this President. Fifty four percent oppose health care legislation while 42% approve it.

When a normally non-plussed and widely respected market strategist and economist goes to this length, something is up. The stock market often is an indicator of things not only financial, but societal, technological and political, among other trends. Looking at it strictly from a personal stock-holdings point of view doesn't paint the entire picture. You know what they say: Follow the money. Especially if it's smart money. Expect political changes shortly.