Economy Booming, So What Might Start the Next Recession?


"If you want a job and you're a college grad, you can get one," is the smart—only somewhat overstated—observation that Roy Krause, head of staffing company Spherion, just imparted to me over the phone. Indeed, college grads had just a 2 percent unemployment rate in June, according to new Labor Department data, vs. 3.5 percent for those with "some college," 4.1 percent for high school grads, and 6.7 percent for those who did not finish high school.

More good news came from the June income numbers: Wages for workers—not managers—increased by 3.9 percent, year over year. Deflate by the core May inflation rate of 2.3 percent—the latest numbers available—and you get real wage growth of 1.6 percent. Not too shabby. Right now, Wall Street recession expectations are pretty low. "The threat of recession has abated, as job and income gains provide the wherewithal to support consumer spending," is the analysis of former Federal Reserve governor Lyle Gramley. In fact, the Big Money Crowd is more worried about China than U.S. housing as a source of future trouble. Case in point: this missive "What Would the Next Recession Look Like" that Goldman Sachs just sent me:

"So, what constitutes a recession in modern times, and when do they occur?...We suspect it would almost certainly involve a major economic slowdown in China. On almost any criteria (and topic), it is impossible to underestimate China's positive impact on the buoyancy of world growth this decade. That said, our China proprietary indicators show no sign of an imminent slowdown. In addition, our various proprietary indices suggest that the underlying global macro environment remains favorable...Moreover, if we and the consensus are correct, then the period 2003-2008 will have been one of the most powerful periods of economic growth globally since accurate data has been collectable for much of the world."