The challenge ahead is one of expectations. I think we win be fortunate to see any GDP growth at all for Q3, and yet the consensus is at +2.2%. The consensus is at +97k on July non-farm payrolls whereas the claims data point to sub-80k. Among the analysts, hope springs eternal that expected revenue growth of +2.6% in Q4 will be enough to generate a +12.1% expansion in bottom-line performance.
To meet that profit forecast, even more cost-cutting will have to come our way (no sooner do we say that than we see this article on page 61 of the WSJ: Steelmaker Presses for 26% Pay Cut). This may be encouraging for profits, but will also come at the expense of labour income, and with that, a sluggish consumer. Concerns over the fiscal cliff have already led to a renewed uptrend in the personal savings rate. The worst drought in the U.S. in a half-century are sending food costs sharply higher, which will severely pinch discretionary outlays, and whatever respite there had been of late from relief at the gas pumps has come to an end (have a look at Price Check: Drought May Hit Grocery Tabs, also on page 61 of the weekend WSJ). Survey after survey shows a sharp turndown in hiring plans as well.
This is looking more and more like a modem-day depression.