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February 24, 2009

Signs of Life: Economic Indicators Pointing Up

See? The stimulus worked!

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators has risen for two months in a row.

Producer prices have increased for two straight months.

Consumer prices rose in January -- the first monthly gain in six months.

The Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost of shipping key raw materials like copper, steel and iron, has more than doubled from its recent lows.

Existing-home sales rose in December, and participants in our weekly survey think that another rise took place in January.

Pending home sales went up in December.

Builders' confidence inched up this month.

Thanks to lower interest rates, applications for both new mortgages and refinancings of existing mortgages are rising.

Real hourly earnings rose 4.5% in December following a 3.3% increase in November.

An index of consumer expectations rose in January.

Retail sales shot up by 1% in January -- the first monthly rise since June.

More indicators up at the link.

He makes the point that this doesn't mean the economy is growing, but rather contracting less sharply. But that presages actual growth.

And, as Jack Straw notes, that means that the bulk of the spendulus will come when it's not necessary and in fact harmful.

Alas, big majorities support the spendulus and paying down people's mortgages, alas.

I suppose all we can do is place our chips now -- and keep hammering the message as much as we can that the economy is already recovering, no thanks to the spendulus.

That, and we can keep explaining to the public that we are seeking to democratically decide these issues in a consensus area. And also, we should mention our demands and ask for an explanation about the heirarchy of power.

Bullshit? Commenters point out the Consumer Confidence Index has plunged to another record low.

Yes, but that doesn't make the indicators any less up. Consumer confidence is important, but it's not the only sign we look to regarding the state of the economy -- indeed, it's a lagging indicator. What people "feel" about the economy is based partly on media reports (the world is doomed!) and partly on their own situations, which are, indeed, now currently diminished. Yes, it's a subjective snapshot of the current mood; but that doesn't contradict more tangible indicators -- and more forward-predicting indicators -- pointing up.

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posted by Ace at 11:24 AM

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