Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reading Between the Headline Numbers

Bloomberg reports this morning that

"Gross domestic product shrank at a 1 percent annual rate from April to June, the same as estimated last month, the department said today in Washington. The report also showed corporate profits climbed by the most in four years."

Did corporate profits rise due to job elimination? Probably since almost no corporations appear to be reporting increased revenue.

"The jobless claims report showed the four-week moving average of initial applications, a less volatile measure, dropped to 566,250 last week from 571,000. Continuing claims plunged by 119,000 in the week ended Aug. 15 to 6.13 million, the least since the week ended April 4."

Did continuing claims plunge because people have found jobs or because they've maxed out their benefits? Other data points suggest the latter explanation may be more accurate.

The Port of Long Beach reports today in the WSJ a 18.6% drop for July (year over year) in container imports. The port spokesperson described this as a "really weak" figure and was quoted as saying: "I don't think there's been any clear indication that things are improving yet."

Call me a pessimist, but I don't see the economy recovering until the U.S. diversifies its economy, producing new jobs and new products that can be exported. I believe this should be the federal government's top priority (over saving zombie financial institutions).

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