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July 08, 2004

Paul Krugman's Victory Lap Cut Short

The diminuitive dean claimed victory upon one month's reading on one economic indicator. (And even that indicator showed growth, just not boom-level growth.)

But the economy is more than one month's jobs figure:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. housing market flexed its muscle last week and shoppers opened their wallets heading into the July 4th weekend, reports showed on Wednesday, tempering concerns about slowing economic growth.

New applications for mortgages jumped in the week ended July 2 on a sharp decline in mortgage rates, pushing up by 19.5 percent the Mortgage Bankers Association's market index, a seasonally adjusted measure of mortgage activity, to 687, its highest level in nearly two months.

Ahem. Aren't Krugman and Kerry forever predicting a skyrocketing in such rates?

The Washington trade group's purchase index, a gauge of new loan requests for home purchases, rose last week by 15 percent to 500.9 -- the index's second highest level ever.

Second highest level ever? Interesting. Apparently the bar set by Kerry and Krugman for economic strength is achieving the highest levels ever in all categories.

I think less, err, interested parties would say that the best economic expansion in 20 years and the second-best new home purchases in history constitute a strong economy.


Meanwhile, chain store sales recovered somewhat in the final fiscal week of June. Sales nudged up 0.9 percent in the week ended July 3, up from the 1.2 percent decrease in the previous week, the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS said in a joint report. Compared with the same week a year ago, sales increased 4.4 percent, slightly up from the 4.2 percent growth pace of the preceding week.

I don't know. We have strong to boom-level expansions in business purchasing, home buying, consumer sales, and even a 20-year-high in our nation's perennial soft-spot, industrial production. We're averaging 256,000 jobs per month over the past four months. The unemployment rate is at 5.6% (and going down), currently tied at the level before the 1996 election, when it was praised as a spectacularly low unemployment rate.

But oh, right-- the jobs creation numbers for one single month failed to match economists' forecasts. So we're in, like, a depression or something, I guess.

Modest cowbell for home-purchasing and consumer spending news because, quite frankly, who really gives a crap? It's like getting socks for your birthday. Yeah, nice, yeah, useful, but... it's not exactly the giant-sized Optimus Prime with the flashing LED eye-lasers that you wanted.

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posted by Ace at 01:32 AM

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