Friday, October 30, 2009

They say Economic downturn is over. Now what?

I was going through an article by CNN which had different slide shows about the state of economy in the past years and the present condition. This post is basically to make you understand that this recession is the longest recession in the US, in fact the most grating one that US has faced since world war 2. Some kind of positive news is that the economy is actually showing some sign of improvement.

Reality Check on my Economic Fundamentals

Based on the slide shows of CNN, I would like to express my own views here. I guess the hangover is still on.

1.) Economic Growth and GDP: Not very Good, but Fair

The last growth which I saw was decent enough, but we should not be over confident in this case. I am sure lot of this is attributed to cut backs in the sectors like business, layoffs, even the stimulus plan, bailouts etc. I am still not sure about the true economic growth here. We can frame it like this way also i.e. is this growth actually justifies the correspondence recovery that we are seeing in the stock market? I know hard to answer.

2.) Situation of the Jobs: Very slow

In some locals of the US, the job loss numbers are touching the record high. But tell me this, how many laid off workers are ready to take their jobs? What I see in the US market is that people are enjoying the unemployment benefits more than anything else. They are happy sitting idle until and unless they find a job of their choice. I am not opposing this but the thing is the jobs are available in the market, but no one is ready to take these jobs. As it is they are collecting their unemployment checks.

3.) Stock Market Results: Really Ahead?

My online brokerage account is saying something else here. I have made some money with my investment recently. Anyone will think that I am so happy. But the possibilities of double dip recession in haunting me. It is a typical sign of premature exuberance. I hope at the end of the day we are not paying more than what it actually appears.

4.) Inflation: Somewhat okay

Inflation still looks tame to me. Just wait and watch, the inflation will definitely become the new Waterloo once the economy takes a big growth. At this point of time the saving accounts are creeping backups. As soon as spending takes a pace, the element of economy which appears to be good right now will become dull.

5.) Housing: Slow Recovery

Government has tried its best by offering relief to homeowners by the means of tax breaks and many other incentives. But this was folded long back when there was economic stimulus package. In some places foreclosures have been increased whereas in some areas it is still steady. Recovery of the real state market will take some time.

6.) Individual Spending: Somewhat improved

The best way to track this is that attribute few consumers who are spending on day to day basis. Keep a watch on their spending activities. It is advisable to watch a home budget right now.

My take on the whole scenario

I believe that the whole picture that has been pictured to us in a form of recovery is localized completely. There are still lot of people who are worried about their debts, credit cards, etc. I wish I could know the exact turning point of the economy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Financial Institutions are learning Bad Habits from Walmart?

Here financial institutions can be anything like bank or may be any government body. And please remember that I am not talking about the customer care services of these institutions which are going down the toilet. I was just wondering why every company all of a sudden started offering imaginable services to its customers. Do you have an answer for this?

Walmart from outside

Lets take an example of a bank. They started providing services such as credit cards. As soon as credit card services became popular they started offering self services brokerage services to their potential clients. Have you heard about Etrade brokerage firm? I am sure you have. They have started a services like checking saving accounts of their clients and offer cash back credit card services which is like a very bold step taken by them.

I was just reading a magazine this morning and in one of the advertisements I saw that American Express has now started their personal savings account services and Financial Institution like Discover has started their own online savings account department. No matter what services they are offering to their clients, at the end of the day all the financial institutions will be same. There was a time when these institutions used to portray a model of knowing things well and doing it better than anything else. All in vain.

I was shocked to see this

I visited a bank (will not mention the name for obvious reasons) last weekend. Can you imagine a banker who himself doesnt have any idea about the products he sells in the bank. I went to open my business account and had to change it twice in order to know the exact account where I am not charged any fees. The banker did not provide me with any information. But I somehow found it myself only with the help of their website.

Bank of America handling more than million potential customers

The bankers act very smart. To get rid of customers like me they ask you to call the other department because they know they cannot help you in any way and it will make a negative feedback on them.

When we enter these banks for the first time they offer us some amazing services which we are not bound to avoid at any cost, but once you become their customer all the financial institutions become the same. This is now happening with all the industries including banking sector.

What do you think in case of Walmart here? They really played a safe game. First they ignited the competition and then later drove all the small stores out of this business. Superb business strategy. When it comes down to money we all have to take extra precautions.

What do you think of these financial institutions? Are you really satisfied with their performance? If not Why?