Ten years ago we were crawling around in the smoldering wreckage of the 2008 financial crisis, hoping to survive the economic nuclear winter on grubs and bark. Heaven knows there were some lean times there but somewhere along the way things must have turned around because in more recent years, to hear the media tell it, the North American economy had become Biggie Smalls, spending its days smoking blunts and drinking Cristal with chickenheads in a jacuzzi and it was all good. Biggie’s long dead of course and the media are now auguring a similar fate for the NAFTA-zone economy, and much like back-to-school, we feel like we’re not ready for the heady summer of fun to end. Continue reading Economic slowdown the talk of the town
As the U.S. economy doggedly continues to send mixed signals, events in the Middle East have the world biting its fingernails and Mexico’s internal problems capture headlines, the Mexican economy inexplicably appears to be doing better than it should. While weak points are numerous, positive signs still accrue: Official unemployment was set at 4.6% in March, the lowest level since December 2008. First quarter results brought indications of a revival of the domestic market, as heavy truck sales jumped 43% over 1Q10, auto sales rose 12% for the same period, and retail sales edged up over 1Q10 as well. The peso continued to pummel the dollar, with gains of 6.8% so far this year, but despite this exports have been strong. Exports of electric and electronic goods were up 16% through the first two months of the year over the same period in 2010, and interestingly, exports of pork to Japan are running 30% ahead of last year despite – or because of? – the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. The IMF provided a rare moment of satisfaction for Mexican authorities this month by upgrading its GDP projection for the country to 4.6% for the current year – just slightly above the projection for Brazil, the heralded BRIC economy and Mexico’s archrival in Latin America. These details, of course, don’t by themselves add up to a shining panorama of unbridled optimism. But considering the unprecedented levels of violence brought on by the drug wars, you’d kinda think things would be going worse than they are economically. Let’s see what we’re saying about this topic a few months from now.