Wednesday, May 14, 2008


A funny thing happened to the economy on its way to recession: It's taken a detour.

That, at least, is the view of a growing number of economists -- including some who not long ago were saying a recession was all but inevitable. They note that stock and credit markets have steadily improved since the Federal Reserve intervened to keep Bear Stearns Cos. from bankruptcy in early March, while a series of economic reports have been stronger than expected...

Still, Mr. Bryson and other economists note that though two main pillars of the economy, the labor market and consumer spending, have faltered, they have not collapsed as they did in past recessions. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell a slim 0.2% in April from the previous month -- a decline due mostly to a steep drop in auto sales. Excluding autos, retail sales climbed 0.5%.

Job losses, meanwhile, have been less severe than they usually are in recessions. And many economists think the government's earliest estimate of first-quarter GDP growth -- 0.6% -- will be revised upward. After reviewing the retail-sales data, economists at Global Insight, a Waltham, Mass.-based forecasting firm, predicted the government would increase its assessment of GDP growth in the first quarter to 1% at an annual rate. They forecast continued growth in consumer spending, partly because of tax rebates and stimulus checks.

read the Wall Street Journal article

My thoughts: Economists have predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions. It is not an exact science. Calling a recession before there is a single quarter of economic decline borders on irresponsible. Yes, there are significicant problems, but whether the NBER will declare a recession is something that we must wait and see.

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