Strategic CS Sees Positive Trends for Consumers and U.S. Economy Amidst Recovery
Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, the United States is positioned for good growth; the economy is recovering, inflation is moderate, the stock market is generally positive, exports are growing, and the dollar is strong against other currencies. Conversely, one of the biggest issues facing the U.S. economy is the Federal Reserve's tapering its Quantitative Easing (QE) program. With unemployment improving, house prices appreciating, and inflation manageable, the Fed's spend of $85 billion per month to support financial markets will soon come to an end, but perhaps not until 2015. While the stock markets initially responded favorably to the announcement that QE will end, eventually the change will result in higher interest rates. For companies this means capital investment is more difficult and for consumers it means more expensive home and debt financing.
Both Equifax and Freddie Mac expect economic and employment growth to bolster the housing market and home prices. The Federal Reserve is expecting unemployment to drop below 6.5 percent this year, the lowest since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008. National economic growth averaged 3.7% in the second half of 2013; however as job growth increases and consumers feel more secure, this could improve. Summarizing the link between homes and economy, Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse observed, "As home prices continue to rise, more and more homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages will see their financial situations improving. Just getting out of that underwater position should be a big help to the economy."
Although improving, the housing market however is still far from what anyone considered "normal" back in 2002 or 2005. Nationally, home prices increased more than 6 percent in 2013. However home prices are expected to fall to 4 percent appreciation by the end of 2014. Even with recent gains, home prices nationally are down 16 percent compared to their peak in 2006. And, while it is hoped that home values and refinancing can help the economy, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) lowered its 2014 forecast for mortgage origination. Refinances are expected to be almost 60 percent lower than 2013 refinance activity.
"Now more than five years since the start of the Great Recession our financial indicators are showing consistently positive signs and it appears that the economy can stand on its own strength. For companies this will mean more purchases and orders, for consumers the benefit will be jobs and security. The real unknowns are what will happen with healthcare, how quantitative easing will impact financial markets, and what role politics will play in government budget and finance," says Ben Kittle, Senior Financial Consultant at Strategic Consulting Services. "Although signs are positive with small consistent growth, everyone is still holding their breath. While waiting for a normal-feeling economic reality, most Americans are focused on paying down their debt and building up savings as we come out of the recession."
About Strategic Consulting Services
Strategic Consulting Services is a financial services firm with teams specialized in Debt Management, Mortgages and Business Services. With a comprehensive client-focused approach, the Company provides assessments looking beyond immediate financial issues to help clients build greater financial strength with smart habits and choices. Since 2007, Strategic Consulting Services has helped individuals and small businesses create savings plans, reduce debt, and make wiser spending choices. For more information visit www.strategiccs.org.
Strategic Consulting Services Staff
Strategic Consulting Services