"I never short America and I never short the U.S. dollar. The United States has an instinctive ability to self-correct." -- Gordon Nixon, Chair and CEO The Royal Bank of Canada.
Nixon, just named one of the world's best CEOs by Barron's, told me that in an interview back in September 2009 when the media, and politicians, were predicting the decline of America.
This week, six months later, markets are waiting for the breakthrough jump in this Friday's U.S. Labor Department job creation statistics, with estimates as high as 200,000 new jobs in March.
Last week, Commerce Department spending had risen for the fifth consecutive month, which points to optimism and job creation.
My guess is that April consumer spending and jobs numbers alike will jump this summer, now that health care reform removes the anxiety from America's middle class about catastrophic health care costs and financial ruination.
This is good news on two levels. As the economic turnaround appears to be happening, the noise coming from an increasingly worrisome Republican fringe, Tea Party types and Fox TV blowhards will become more of a freak show to the majority of the American voting public than it already is. That's because their "audio" of disaster and the "video" of America's gradual improvement will clearly underline their disconnect from reality.
Besides official figures, there are other quirky indicators that point to economic expansion. On a U.S. business show, former General Electric honcho Jack Welch recently pointed to improved sales at restaurants, hair salons, travel bookings and lawn care contracts.There's also a pulse returning to residential real estate in some regions, which has shown up in higher sales for furniture, building materials, sporting goods, electronic goods and appliances. March car sales have picked up and manufacturers in general south of the border have been hiring in that last three months, according to the Institute for Supply Chain Management.
In April, the most critical shoe will fall in terms of job creation enhancement policy with the release of the April U.S. Treasurer's Report as to whether China's currency is heavily subsidized (it is) and what tariff to slap on its goods as a result. Most do no realize but the U.S. Treasury has the power to ask the President, without Congressional consent, to impose a tariff against all Chinese goods and services equal to the currency subsidy they calculate is in place. This is the neutron bomb of diplomacy and it's the grand game going on behind closed doors with Beijing, not Google's tantrum and exit.
China knows this is possible and is well-advised to agree quietly to increase the value of its currency in order to stop stealing jobs from Americans. Obama has been strong-arming China in a nuanced way: This winter, he quietly announced an unexpected sale of jets to fortify Taiwan and he also met with the Dalai Lama. Objections were strenuous from the Chinese, and totally ignored.
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