Consumer Confidence in U.S. Improves, Businesses Expand in Recovery Signs
Bloomberg (extracts): Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in November to the highest level in five months and a gauge of business activity unexpectedly climbed, signaling the recovery is taking hold heading into 2011.
Gains in spending that are giving retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. a boost during the holiday-shopping season are more likely to continue into next year as households sense that job and income prospects are improving.
Factories, which helped lead the economy out of the recession, are still bolstering the expansion. The Chicago ISM’s business barometer rose to 62.5 in November, exceeding even the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Manufacturing may keep accelerating as exports grow and companies invest in new equipment, sustaining the recovery. The group’s production gauge climbed to the highest level since February 2005, and the index of new orders rose to a three-year high.
“Manufacturers still have orders coming in and they have to be filled,” said Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies Group Inc. in New York. “There is a lot of foreign demand and a lot of business demand.”
The economy expanded at a 2.5 percent pace in the third quarter, more than initially estimated, the Commerce Department said last week. Consumer spending rose at the highest rate in almost four years and wage and salary gains were revised up for the past two quarters.
Politico: The Congressional Budget Office has a positive prediction for the Obama administration: The government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program is seen as costing taxpayers $25 billion, which the nonpartisan group says is “substantially less” than previous estimates.
The CBO says in a new report that the costs of TARP’s transactions to the federal government are well below the $66 billion that was last estimated in August.
“Clearly, it was not apparent when the TARP was created two years ago that the cost would turn out to be this low,” the report says. “Because the financial system stabilized and then improved, the amount of funds used by the TARP was well below the $700 billion initially authorized, and the outcomes of most transactions made through the TARP were favorable for the federal government.”
The reduction in the estimated cost is attributed to a few developments, including a lower cost in assistance to AIG and the auto industry.
The CBO’s estimate is also substantially lower than the Office of Management and Budget’s latest estimate of $113 billion. The nonpartisan office says this is because “the market value of assets held by the government has increased and several recipients of TARTP funds – most notably General Motors and AIG – have significantly restructured the Treasure’s investment since May 31, 2010.”