Monday marks the kick off of President Barack Obama’s second term in office. Under Obama’s presidency, the S&P 500 rose 79 percent, the Dow climbed 69 percent, and the NASDAQ shot up 112 percent. These tremendous gains move the markets from post-crisis lows to near all-time highs for the S&P and Dow, but this recovery is just the tip of the iceberg.
Beneath it, the global economy is still in the throes of an economic downturn and after the novelty of vilifying financial institutions wore off public ire moved to federal policy makers for their role in the country’s growing share of fiscal problems. Obama helped negotiate a last-minute tax agreement that avoided the worst of the fiscal cliff, but spending cuts remain and the status of the debt ceiling remains a concern.
The last note in Obama’s first term will be about how on Friday, Republican leaders announced they would vote on a short-term increase to the debt ceiling that came tied up with a few caveats. One, Congress would not get paid if they failed to adopt a budget by April 15. Congress has a shaky history with incentive devices like this (evidenced by the fiscal cliff ordeal), and it’s unclear if Democrats, who control the senate, are okay with the provisions.
With this as a backdrop, several economic indicators released in January paint an interesting picture of the economy heading into Obama’s second term…