New Jersey/NY Gasoline Prices Jump up 23+% Per Gallon

The average (mean) price of gasoline in New Jersey has risen 22.8% from one year ago. The average price per gallon in March 2010 was $2.62 versus $3.39 on Friday March 11th.

This sharp spike in gas prices, along with an approximate 13% aggregate increase in food prices will only place more downward pressure on the local and national economies. More monies spent on food & fuel means less discretionary and disposable income to spend on other goods & services.

Rest assured that Retail Sales will feel the pinch in the coming months.

Add to the mix, a depressed housing market that continues to decline in price and increase in inventories which will only all add up to a double-dip recession. In fact, we are already in the early stages of a double-dip recession.

What does it mean for the average working class family? Well, all of the relevant economic indicators point to a declining economy that is worsening. (forget the stock market- that is an unreliable indicator of any real micro economic conditions, especially household/consumer levels)

U.S. unemployment/underemployment stands at nearly 22%. New Jersey unemployment is really over 12%, not the reported 9% reported by the Labor and Workforce department. House prices continue to fall and inventory continues to rise. 24% of all mortgage holders are in default of their loans and 23% of mortgage holders are underwater (having negative equity).

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Retail in Ruin

Guest Post:
By Die ex-onomic Machina

National Retail Market

U.S. Retail sales for October is said to have risen 1.4%, a slight increase from September’s 2.3% decline. Month over month the reality is only a modest if not negligible 0.9%. Let’s not overlook the fact that these numbers always get revised and more than likely, the 1.4% increase will be revised downward next month.

0.9% is virtually nothing, in fact it is flat for all intents and purposes. But the government and the banks, who’s puppet economists- all in the play, would have the public believing different. Theater of the absurd, now on tour across the nation with special performances in Washington, only this week seemed to ‘get’ that at the crux of the massive economic recession, is JOBS.

The labor market, is not, as pontificated by some, a lagging indicator. When unemployment reaches double digits and more importantly, there are no new jobs being created, unemployment becomes a coincident and in the nations current situation, even a leading indicator of the economy. Unemployment will most likely reach 12% or more in 2010 as the recession is predicted to continue for at least another year.

Retail businesses are continuing to falter and close at an alarming rate. Third Quarter overall retail space vacancy was 7.6%, up almost 2% from Q2. Strip malls alone have a running vacancy rate of nearly 12%. The colossal ramping up of pre-holiday sales from major retailers Walmart, Target and Kmart/Sears is a clear indicator of just how troubled the economy and these companies truly are.

Regional News

Here in the Garden State, by the Third Quarter retail vacancies rose to 8.2% and now stands at over 10%. As of October 31, as reported by NJ Biz, another 14 single store businesses had closed their doors for good.  Add to that, Ohio based InkStop, who had 9 stores operating in New Jersey, until October 1st. Initially, the company announced a “temporary” closing, to shore up financial debts and reorganize the chain. But on November 10th it was an entirely different story.

“As of November 10th, InkStop has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.” This according to the board of directors. The company owes $48 million to more than a 1,000 creditors. A company spokesman stated that the debt is too large to recover from and there would be no way to reopen and will instead liquidate its assets and close for good.

On top of the vacancy problems nationally and in New Jersey, are the mounting loan defaults for commercial real estate. Currently $3.6 BILLION dollars worth of commercial mortgages are distressed in NJ and that number is predicted to reach $7.4 BILLION by 2011- according to Foresight Analytics.

InkStop’s closings are just another dreadful sign that retail and the economy continues to spiral downward and significantly suffer, despite the propaganda still coming from the government. There are many questions to be answered, but the single most important is not health care or climate change issues, It is employment issues. The restoration and creation of jobs.

Nothing except jobs will lead an economic recovery, NOT housing, stock/bond markets, not retail. Why? Because in order for consumers to SPEND money, they first have to EARN money. A concept that even a first grader can grasp- except for this leftist administration, a concept they have yet to understand.

One has to wonder what this mock administration has been doing for the last 10 months, except placating to dictators around the world. One also has to wonder if their goal is not to cripple the U.S. economy in an effort to take complete control through government intervention. If there were a complete collapse of the financial sector, they could move to seize all and every business in the nation.

Make no mistake, there is another bubble being created, a monetary bubble that has been growing by TARP, Stimulus and other borrowed tax payer dollars. The banks are borrowing money they can’t repay, the government is borrowing against future generations that is set to collapse the U.S.- unless something is done to stop and reverse the apparent move towards a centrally planned economy.