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NFIB Survey Indicates Small Business Capitulates: "Owners Have No Confidence That Economic Policies Will “Fix” The Economy"

Tyler Durden's picture




 

The NFIB Small Business Report came in at 88.1, down from 89.0 but just beating the expectation of 88. Yet there was nothing optimistic in the index itself: "The Index of Small Business Optimism lost 0.9 points in July following a sharp decline in June. The persistence of Index readings below 90 is unprecedented in survey history. The performance of the economy is mediocre at best, given the extent of the decline over the past two years. Pent up demand should be immense but it is not triggering a rapid pickup in economic activity. Ninety (90) percent of the decline this month resulted from deterioration in the outlook for business conditions in the next six months. Owners have no confidence that economic policies will “fix” the economy... Bottom line, owners remain pessimistic and nothing is happening in Washington to provide encouragement. Confidence is lost. At least the “real variables” (hiring, capital spending and inventory investment) did not deteriorate substantially in July. The damage to the Optimism Index was done by expectations for business conditions for the second half – owners predict that the economy will not improve appreciably, at least on Main Street. Big banks and big manufacturers may be doing well, but the small firms are not. If this doesn’t change soon, the success of the large firms will be imperiled as well." And guess where the bulk of hiring in America comes from. The double dip recession in an ongoing depression continues to remind everyone it is not going away.

Summary of the deterioration in the index components:

Reading through the various components: pretty much all doom and gloom.

LABOR MARKETS

Ten (10) percent (seasonally adjusted) reported unfilled job openings, up one point from June but historically very weak. Over the next three months, nine percent plan to increase employment (down one point), and 10 percent plan to reduce their workforce (up two points), yielding a seasonally adjusted net two percent of owners planning to create  new jobs, up one point from June and positive for the third time in 22 months.

CAPITAL SPENDING
The frequency of reported capital outlays over the past six months fell one point to 45 percent of all firms, one point above the 35 year record low reached most recently in December 2009. The percent of owners planning to make capital expenditures over the next few months fell one point to 18 percent, two points above the 35 year record low. Five percent characterized the current period as a good time to expand facilities, down one point. But a net negative 15 percent expect business conditions to improve over the next six months, down nine points from June and 23 points from May.

INVENTORIES AND SALES

The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months lost one point, falling to a net negative 16 percent, 18 points better than June 2009 but indicative of very weak customer activity. Widespread price cutting continued to contribute to reports of lower nominal sales. The net percent of owners expecting real sales gained a point over June, rising to a net negative four percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted), quite dismal. Small business owners continued to liquidate inventories and weak sales trends gave little reason to order new stock. A net negative 19 percent of all owners reported gains in inventories (more firms cut stocks than added to them, seasonally adjusted), two points better than June but still a very weak number. Inventories had been built in the expansion to satisfy the spending of a consumer that was saving virtually nothing.

INFLATION

The weak economy continued to put downward pressure on prices. Twelve (12) percent of the owners (down one point) reported raising average selling prices, and 24 percent reported average price reductions (down three points). Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners raising prices was a negative 12 percent, a two point increase in the net percent raising prices. Plans to raise prices fell one point to a net seasonally adjusted 10 percent of owners. On the cost side, three percent of owners cited inflation as their number one problem (e.g. costs coming in the “back door” of the business) and only four percent cited the cost of labor.

PROFITS AND WAGES

Reports of positive profit trends worsened by a point in July, registering a net negative 33 percentage points, 29 points worse than the best expansion reading reached in 2005. The persistence of this imbalance is bad news for the small business community. Profits are important for the support of capital spending and expansion. Not seasonally adjusted, 18 percent reported profits higher (up two points), but 45 percent reported profits falling (down two points). Owners continued hold the line on compensation, with eight percent reporting reduced worker compensation and 12 percent reporting gains. Seasonally adjusted, a net three percent reported raising worker compensation, only five points better than February’s record low reading of negative two percent. Labor costs are still under control, one of the major factors affecting inflation pressures. In past recovery periods, compensation improved at a much faster pace than we have experienced in this recovery period.

CREDIT MARKETS

Regular borrowing gained three points from last months record low to 32 percent accessing capital markets at least once a quarter. A net 13 percent reported loans harder to get than in their last attempt, unchanged from June. Overall, 91 percent of the owners reported all their credit needs met or they did not want to borrow, up one point. Credit may be harder to get compared to the bubble period (as it should be) and is always harder to arrange in a recession. But credit availability does not appear to be the cause of slow growth as many allege. Four percent of the owners reported “finance” as their top business problem, down two points. Pre-1983, as many as 37 percent cited financing and interest rates as their top problem. What businesses need are customers, giving them a reason to hire and make capital expenditures and borrow to support those activities. Twentynine (29) percent cite weak sales as their top business problem. The percent of owners reporting higher interest rates on their most recent loan was six percent, while three percent reported lower rates. The net percent of owners expecting credit conditions to ease in the coming months was a seasonally adjusted net negative 14 percent (more owners expect that it will be “harder” to arrange financing), one point worse than June.

SUMMARY:

Bottom line, owners remain pessimistic and nothing is happening in Washington to provide encouragement. Confidence is lost. At least the “real variables” (hiring, capital spending and inventory investment) did not deteriorate substantially in July. The damage to the Optimism Index was done by expectations for business conditions for the second half – owners predict that the economy will not improve appreciably, at least on Main Street. Big banks and big manufacturers may be doing well, but the small firms are not. If this doesn’t change soon, the success of the large firms will be imperiled as well.

And yes, DEFLATION

Inflation is clearly not a problem, more firms are still cutting prices than raising them and credit is not an issue for most firms. There are problems for some firms whose sales have been impaired by the abrupt reduction in consumer spending that occurred in 2008Q4 that has not reversed. The saving rate is over six percent, good for the long haul but tough for firms that became accustomed to a “zero” savings rate supported by unsustainable home price appreciation and the borrowing that supported. But most “good” borrowers are on the sidelines, still waiting for a reason to seek a loan and expand their businesses.

Full report

 

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Tue, 08/10/2010 - 07:52 | 512219 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

optimism indicators are just a load of crap. optimism don't buy you food.

All that counts is revenue and profit margins.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:08 | 512238 VK
VK's picture

Wait!? You mean all the FED jawboning won't do anything to stimulate the economy? You mean fundamentals actually matter to the stock market. That even though corporations have 2 trillion in cash their liabilities of 7.2 trillion matter. Could you send me some belgian waffles?

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:13 | 512242 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

lol.  Fed schmed. The Fed won't lift a finger to help anyone except Wall Street & the Banksters. The Fed should have been doing something about this long ago, as Ben has said in Congressional testimony not that long ago.....the Fed has tools it can use to help. So Ben, when are you going to do something?  Ben....go to HELL!!!

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:46 | 512273 overmedicatedun...
overmedicatedundersexed's picture

The Fed won't lift a finger to help anyone except Wall Street & the Banksters.

>>>>>>>>>>>...

that is their charter, what else would you expect from them??

 

they are the banksters or did you miss the memo from Jekyll island??

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:06 | 512234 GIANTKILR
GIANTKILR's picture

I have confidence in my belief this will all end badly, and soon!

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:45 | 512272 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Looks like all sectors are coming down from the recent sugar high.

Excuse me but I need a nap.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:09 | 512240 Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

Small business is really hurting and has been for some time. Washington has forgotten small business, while concentrating on Big Business all the time. It's all part and parcel of Big Business's plan to get rid of small business and the middle class.  I know because I am small business. Even at the state level it is so hard for us to get help. My small biz is hurting and I'm only working PT, so I've gone back to school to seek a career where I can be gainfully employed. If Washington and the states keep ignoring small business they might as well forget about any kind of recovery near term, and possibly longer term. Small business needs help ASAP!!!!

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:00 | 512439 Jeff Lebowski
Jeff Lebowski's picture

We've already instituted national health care, soon to eliminate the tax cuts...

What more help could you need?

*sarcasm off*

A close friend adapted to the market last year by modifying his industrial representation business to also offer replacement parts.  He hired an engineer, created patterns for the cast parts, put inventory on his shelves...  Didn't make a profit, cashed out his 401k to keep the doors open, and only took enough paycheck to pay child support and pay his mortgage, amounting to approximately $80,000.  Has less than than $5,000 in the bank, and now - no 401k.

Of course, he is one of Obama's high earners as he was taxed as "making" $582,000 due to the inventory and patterns on his shelves.

Game over.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 11:15 | 512639 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

I feel for your plight, Mad Woman, and hope your re-education will help you. I also hope you're not taking on student loans to fund your education as they are recourse loans that can't be forgiven in bankruptcy. I think student loans are the worst kind of predatory lending, preying on people's hope and desperation.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:21 | 512253 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

This is easy....

Here is a list of policies implemented by the current crop of polys that add to the "entrepreneurship and small business" valuation equation....

1)

2)

3)

That's right ...NOTHING....

Most every poly move to date negates business valuations and further taxes away the future of entrepreneurship estuaries....

...................................

The reason this is happening....?

Simple....

The US has employed  a team of people with no mechanical experience to work in an manufacturing plant....

The output will be nothing....

...............................................

What tools do the polys have left that would actually work ?

Answer....One tool left...Complete tax structure change...

ie removal of the individual and corporate income taxes....to be replaced by a not greater than 15% consumption tax....No other taxes....

.................................................

Such a tax structure would allow for an economy many times the size of the economy that will result from the current policy/tax framework....

And the tax take from a 15% consumption tax would dwarf the tax take from the current tax structure....

..............................................

 

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 08:56 | 512295 IBelieveInMagic
IBelieveInMagic's picture

The time for implementing this is long past -- this will only exacerbate the inequalities of income which is already so extreme.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 09:12 | 512324 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

Nope...incorrect sir...

What will further create inequality is to leave the current system in place...

The only winners in the current system are....?

What you have today......

To leave the current system in place....is to ac

cept more of what you have now.....

 

....................................

A survey should be taken from the people who create business and the majority of America's jobs....

 

Pose the question to the real US players...

 

Which one ?

 

1) What you have now....

 

2) A simple 15% consumption tax only...no income or corporate taxes....

 

Which would provide for business expansion...?

 

They will come back with number 2 checked off ....100%....

.........................................

One must ask oneself the question....why the government does not take such a survey.....

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 09:12 | 512325 crosey
crosey's picture

No, this will immediately equalize the tax burden across all "classes", and attract private enterprise in unprecedented proportions.

Moreover, it is never too late for tax reform.

You can get educated on the matter at FairTax.org.  Over $20 million in research has been performed to compile, debug, and debunk a consumption tax approach.

The final step should be a Constitutional amendment limiting Federal government spending and debt to a percent of GDP.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 09:52 | 512385 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

 

Pose all three ....

1) Current system

2) Fair Tax

3) Consumption tax only

Pose the question to small business....see which box THEY check off....

............................................

2 + 2 = 4....

Does it not....?

...........................................

The size of the economy will be be much larger with a consumption tax only....

And the masses pay taxes everytime they buy a product....

The masses are taxed indirectly....but directly....

...........................................

The US is like having a business partner that does not contribute....and demands to be paid....

This amount has to be minimized....and broadly distributed....

.............................................

ie A 10% government allowance allows for lower overall prices.....than a 25% government allowance....

.............................................

And the US already operates under a consumption tax scenario....

Three people buy a tube of toothpaste...

One pays $1.00

Another pays $1.20

Another pays $1.35

For the same toothpaste on earned dollars required....

Now apply this to cars ....and everything else....

.......................................................

Thus the costs are already being born inequally....

....................................................

 

TAX INEQUALITY ?

A 15% max allowance more broadly distributed would be light years ahead of FAIR TAX....or the current system....

Simple test ?

Valuation = Income + Debt

Anybody with a back of an envelope can see this....

...............................................

Too many academs in office educated way way beyond their intelligence.... 

THIS is about business formation and duration....not short term unreliable patchwork....

 

 

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:02 | 512445 PD Quig
PD Quig's picture

A consumption tax will never fly. Far too complicated to implement. What are you going to do about the tens of millions of us who have been taxed all our lives to build our meager retirement accounts? Now you gonna tax the crap out of us again as we spend it? I don't think so. There are way too many such problems with transitioning to a consumption tax.

Why did you omit from your options a simple flat tax with no deductions and only a generous personal exemption? It would be simple to implement. Everybody would have a choice: file under the current system or go flat--but once flat, never back. Eliminate corporate income taxes altogether since they are paid by consumers and employees anyway.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 11:22 | 512501 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

Incorrect again....

A consumption tax only would be collected at point of sale....

Everybody pays....

No tax accountants...lawyers...

And the IRS would have a changed role altogether....

......................................

Just ask any American if THEY would like a no income tax option ?

Versus the unjust and unfair system they have today....

 

A consumption tax is the easiest of all to implement....

No HR Block....nada....

ASK ANY AMERICAN ON THE STREET ....

COMMON SENSE MY FRIEND.....

A consumption tax is the simplest system of all the choices....

And the objective is business formation with longevity....

A consumption tax economy would be many times larger than the current system...or any flat plus system....

The acid test is this ....

Valuation = Income + Debt

If policy negates the equation...then growth is negated...

If policy adds to the equation....then more growth is possible...

Today's government policy has negated the equation in every circumstance....

And also there is a very psychological positive that if every American could wake up tomorrow...and have no income tax impositions....then there would be a very positive psychological effect....TO THE POSITIVE IN A BIG WAY....

THIS....freedom...knowing one has it....is a very strong motivation to produce and participate....

This is something one does not learn being a member of the Princeton Harvard Yale Club....

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 12:02 | 512747 caferrell
caferrell's picture

The trouble with the Fair Tax or VAT, is that you will get it AND personal and corporate income tax. Guaranteed.

And the fellow above you is right in that retired people have prepaid the taxes on their wealth. Taxing them again as they spend it isn't really fair. 

But then its not really fair that retired people paid peanuts into Social Security and are now collecting much more than their input would have generated.

 

You're both right that we need to eliminate corporate income tax, and we need to find a simple way for small business that currently files taxes on schedule C of the 1040, to separate personal and business income and then eliminate the taxes on the business part.

 

I would love to see the end of income tax and a national consumption tax, I'd also love a flat tax with no deductions but the simple personal deduction - but neither one will ever happen. The income tax with its thousands of loopholes benefits all - ALL the well-connected lobby groups in Washington. They are not going to lose all that power and money. Unfortunately, you're both dreaming.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 12:34 | 512822 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

Dreaming?

Nope....

Mainstream America is about FED UP with the Princeton Harvard Yale Club....

..................................

After massive debt destruction....it will have a chance....

The Catch22 for the current wealth holders/controllers is that they just may be wiped out already and just do not know it....

......................................

And it will not just be Wall Street that gets to rule....but it just might be the impact of over 200 million $3/day Chinese that get to decide the day ahead....

.........................................

But the real acid test again is this...

Valuation = Income + Debt

Everyone gets richer when policy adds to the equation...and vice versa...

And yeah...it's that simple...

..................................

The fact is that if one wants an economy many times the size of the current poly economy.....

All that has to happen is a 15% Consumption tax....no other taxes....

...................................

Every other avenue points towards something far less....

..................................

A constitutional reformation with a mandatory maximum of 15% government would go a long way....

..................................

No flat...no income tax....Consumption tax only...

Freedom my friend....is what the US SHOULD BE all about...

Not the FASCIST Princeton Harvard Yale Club....

 

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 12:40 | 512838 caferrell
caferrell's picture

Brother I agree with you. And I am politically active, trying to elect a responsible Congresswoman from my district and a responsible senator from my state.

 

But its hopeless. Washington will not change the tax code until we have a full-blown monetary crisis that makes it impossible for the Federal government to pay its millions of workers. Until then, hoping for a change in tax law is like hoping for the sun to rise in the west.

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 11:22 | 512657 Grand Supercycle
Grand Supercycle's picture

SP500 important chart update :

http://stockmarket618.wordpress.com

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 12:37 | 512827 caferrell
caferrell's picture

Obama truly does not understand business, particularly small business. His remedy for small business stagnation is to offer more loans at the same time that he is increasing regulations and raising taxes. 

 

There is capital available, you knucklehead! Small businessmen need to know that Obamacare isn't going to multiply their cost of employees, they need know that regualtions are going to be cut and that taxes are not going to be raised. They need to know that the cap is not going to be taken off SS withholding.

 

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 13:40 | 512946 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

The real issue is size and duration of the economy...

1) Want a contracting economy ?

This is what the current policies do...

2) Want the fastest growing economy that has legs and no short term fixes ?

Permanent tax structure change as mentioned...

.........................................

The least understood point ?

The tax take from a 15% only consumption tax...no individual or income taxes will dwarf the tax take from the current policies....

 

The current policies are akin to cutting down the trees in the orchard while demanding more fruit....

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