So, do you want the good news or the bad news first? Given the bombardment of bad news of late, I think I’ll start with the good.

Well, apparently there are signs that the economy might already be in recovery mode, with consumer confidence, first-time unemployment claims, orders for durable goods, and even the housing market showing some positive signs.

And yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial average jumped 221 points, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and NASDAQ composite reached their highest levels this year.

But the report that caught my attention came out of the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), an organization that supports approximately 19,000 business credit and financial professionals worldwide. And hey, who better to look to than an association representing what is at the core of every company’s financial well-being – credit management.

According to the NACM, its latest combined Credit Managers’ Index rose from 44.3 to 45.4. That might not mean much to you, but the association said the index hasn’t been at that level since October 2008. And as we are all aware, that’s when the economy went into a nosedive. And with the index a few points from breaking above the 50-point threshold, said analysts, the findings indicate economic expansion rather than contraction.

“The recession essentially came to an end in February and March 2009,” said Chris Kuehl, PH.D., NACM economist. “The CMI data, combined with various other measures, suggest that the economy finally reached its lowest point and has been in recovery stage since.”

And while Kuehl warned not to expect the economy to come roaring back in the next few months, he said the findings support predictions of a turnaround by the third quarter – with the second quarter being the last quarter of negative GDP.

But wait, it gets better. According to the NACM’s survey, sales jumped from 37.4 to 41.8, the biggest increase in the last several months. The data also showed that businesses are slowly leaning toward expansion, as credit is once again being extended.

Even manufacturing showed signs of improvement, albeit slowly (index improved from 44.4 to 45.3). Growth was also seen in the service sectors, which is good news since it represents close to 80 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Now for the bad news: The only sectors that remained in a serious slump, according to the data, were automotive and retail. But hey, I don’t think we’re going to see any improvement here until the job market returns, and that prediction extends well into 2010.

According to the association’s survey, states with the highest rates of job losses and bankruptcies were California, Florida, Michigan and Ohio. Those four states, two of which are the major drives of car sales, also have the weakest performance in terms of credit. However, some states with severe declines – most notably Arizona and Nevada – have shown some improvements.

OK, enough with the bad. Let me give you some more good news. There are signs that we may be in a U-shaped recession rather than the painful W-shaped version that many economists feared. In contrast, a W-shaped recession is often referred to as a double-dip recession because the economy drops twice before a full recovery is achieved.

So what does that all mean? Basically, that means we’re in a normal recessionary pattern. See, a U-shaped recession begins with slow decline and remains at the bottom for an extended period of time before turning. And with the NACM’s index showing signs of returning back to where it was in October 2008 – when the meltdown began to accelerate – I would say we’re about to turn up. In fact, the NACM believes its index will be back above 50 by mid- to late summer, which is where most economists put a possible turnaround. Let’s just hope they’re right.

Author

Gregory Arroyo
Gregory Arroyo

Gregory Arroyo

Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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