The U.S. economy seems to be improving, even though the Obama administration is pushing up energy prices by making coal fired power plants unprofitable. The huge supplies of natural gas and cheap petroleum brought about by the fracking revolution in the U.S. and OPEC's response of pumping more crude to drive the fracking operations out of business because of oversupply seem to have mitigated the expected increases in energy costs for the moment. But that does not mean that the economy is healthy, and the indications coming from China suggest that we could be in for another world-wide disruption that could be even worse than the great recession of 2009.
The US economy has only been supported by the vast money printing, known as quantitative easing, and the suppression of interest rates. The feds raised rates last month after nearly a decade and will be forced to suppress them again. We have and enormous, completely unrepayable debt that cannot tolerate a rise in rates. We will see another crash this year of historic proportions and it will be followed by a lowering of rates, if it doesn't happen beforehand, and another squashing of rates.
Wal-mart just announced that they will be cutting 269 stores from their roster, beginning February 1st. Add this to the 6,000 other retail stores closures. The retail apocolypse continues.
Wal-Mart reports that it will try to place those workers into stores in the surrounding areas, though that will not be feasible for all. This is the first mass closing of stores for Wal-Mart in over two decades, and analysts are trying to determine if this is simply a strategic re-positioning, or an indication of other problems.
More on Wal-Mart strategy, page 2