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A new recession in the third quarter?

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

David Brancaccio: In our continuing effort to give you some context to go with the data let’s turn to Marketplace Morning Report regular Juli Neimann, analyst Smith, Moore & Company in St. Louis. Good morning, Juli.

Juli Niemann: Good morning, David.

Brancaccio: I think on a day like today you could find a parking space in the garages under Wall Street. I know you’re in St. Louis, but a lot of people just not showing up.

Niemann: Well, the traders are all on the highway probably listening to us, even as we speak.

Brancaccio: One could only hope, but you don’t expect a lot money to trade hands today.

Niemann: No, not really, everybody trades ahead of the game. So yesterday, you had all the positioning take place. It’s going to be an easy week all simply because nobody wants to hold inventory when you have very light trading volume; you get exaggerated moves in the market.

Brancaccio: Well exactly, and that’s also because news can sometimes happen and you don’t want a strong position lying there without you being able to get into work.

Niemann: Exactly.

Brancaccio: Now, welcome to the third quarter of 2012, Julie. Maybe we can use that neuralizer device from the movie "Men in Black" to erase the memories of quarter No. 2.

Niemann: Well, first quarter up, second quarter wipe out, third quarter -- well, the rally on Friday was really due to the hope that the euro crisis is finally over; we’ve got a policy. But the question that’s going to be on all our minds is: Will they follow through? That’s the tough piece because they have to lever up the European stability mechanism and most of the continent is back in recession. The BRICs are all slowing down -- that’s Brazil, Russia, India, China -- dramatically and the anxiety du jour is now is: Do we go back into recession? That’s going to determine the third quarter.

Brancaccio: All right then, new recession in the third quarter -- what do you think -- that would be pretty grim.

Niemann: Well, you want to heap a little coal on the fire here; total oil consumption has plunged to 1998 levels, that’s recessionary; retail sales including cars, very sluggish; employment numbers weak, consumer confidence sliding again, but I don’t see a new recession for one major reason: we haven’t come out of the old one yet. The so-called recovery in this recession, depression was very spotty, very uneven. Now here’s the cheery news: our economy is not going to plunge further simply because of the fact that most of our economy has not yet recovered meaningfully; it takes a very long time to recover from depression.

Brancaccio: Well, I appreciate that prognosis; truth telling is always useful. Juli Neimann, Smith,Moore & Company in St. Louis, thank you for this.

Niemann: You bet.

About the author

Juli Niemann is executive vice-president for research and portfolio management with Smith, Moore and Company.

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