Sorry to have to tell you this ...
So much for Wall Street's upcoming rate cut. It looks more and more likely to me that the Federal Reserve is going to stand pat on interest rates, despite whiny, blatantly self-interested calls for a rate cut from biz personalities as diverse as Jim Cramer and Ford
The reason is simple: The economy is not doing that badly, no matter what the screamers would have you believe.
Pain in places
Sure, carmakers like Ford and GM
Today, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released numbers showing that real gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 4% in the second quarter, up from a 0.6% pace for the first quarter of this year. A closer reading of the figure shows that consumers -- who drive most of the economy -- aren't buying at the same pace they were earlier in the year (a 1.4% pace vs. Q1's 3.7% pace), but they haven't closed up their purses entirely, and that's a good thing.
Props to the Fed
In other words, it looks like Ben Bernanke and the Fed are doing their job well, holding back the speculation and dangerous inflation that came as the predictable side effect of years of Greenspan's if-it's-got-a-pulse-give-it-credit policies. In fact, the specter of inflation still haunts these numbers, with the price index for gross domestic purchases up at a 3.8% pace.
Wall Street, and the leaders of America's spendy-goods companies may have a long, dry fall ahead, since the data seem to show that big expenditures like cars and houses are being put on hold. As a result, I expect the leaders of these industries will probably continue to try and paint the current credit pullback as a calamity. It's not.
Rough sailing ahead?
Next quarter's figures will likely show a slower pace of growth, as the current problems in housing are reflected in the Q3 numbers, but the Fed knows its job isn't to rescue an industry, especially one that behaved so irresponsibly during the past half decade. Fed minutes this week contained language designed to assuage nervous investors, but it seemed most clear to me that unless the current jitters spur an all-out recession, there's no Helicopter Ben to the rescue.
Foolish final note
If (and I believe, when) it becomes clear to Wall Street that Bernanke and Co. are not going to dole them out another pile of easy money, I expect the markets to turn a bit ugly. But don't let that put you off: It's just a market, and an economy, moving back toward equilibrium, and if that means Wall Street has to actually work for its alpha for once, rather than simply skimming leveraged returns on an ever-increasing asset bubble, so be it.
When the Wise are frightened and go into sell mode to protect their bonuses, they offer great deals to those of us who recognize quality and have the guts and patience to buy it cheap. If things get bad, it will be a great time for Foolish investors.
At the time of publication, Seth Jayson, a top-10 CAPS player, had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest CAPS blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.