Monday, September 15, 2008

No Recession? Yes Recession?

Which one do you want it to be? If the conventional wisdom says that we’re in a recession, but the numbers aren’t so clear (not ALL of the numbers), perhaps we ought to debunk the conventional wisdom. Wouldn’t we all be happier with no recession?

Donald Luskin, a Republican economic consultant, suggests in the Washington Post that it's not at all clear that we are (or that we are going into) a broad-based recession. Evidence? He claims
  • that the National Association of Realtors reports that the median price of an existing home is up 8.5 percent from the low of last February;
  • that according to the FDIC, we haven't have that many bank failures ... nothing out of the ordinary;
  • that bank equity capital stands higher -- banks stand stronger -- than at the beginning of the "turmoil";
  • that excluding financial stocks, the stock market is down only 14.8 percent;
  • and that "some economic indicators -- export growth and non-defense capital goods orders such as industrial machinery, for example -- are running at levels associated with brisk expansion. Others are running at middling levels, such as the closely followed Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index. But it's actually difficult to find many that are running at truly recessionary levels. "

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