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June 03, 2007
Taking It Slow
The recent spate of relatively good economic news has some people thinking rosier scenarios. From the Wall Street Journal (page A3 in yesterday's print edition):
The latest data show employment and manufacturing growing at a vigorous rate, suggesting the U.S. economy is regaining momentum after a slow start to 2007...
Nonfarm employers added 157,000 jobs to their payrolls in May, nearly double the 80,000 new jobs recorded in April, the Labor Department said Friday. Led by the service sector, the rebound brought the three-month average job gain to about 137,000, a pace strong enough to keep unemployment low and wages rising. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.5%.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management, a purchasing managers' trade group, reported that its index of manufacturing activity came in at 55 in May, up from 54.7 in April, indicative of expanded factory production. That is a stark contrast to earlier this year, when manufacturing activity was contracting.
Economists saw the reports as confirmation that the economy is regaining momentum despite the pain that high gasoline prices and the housing slump are inflicting on the consumer...
How quickly the economy rebounds will depend to a large extent on how U.S. consumers, whose purchases make up more than two-thirds of all economic activity, respond to the conflicting influences of high gasoline prices, falling house prices, a robust stock market and rising incomes. Friday, the latest reading on the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index suggested they were still in relatively good spirits: The index rose to 88.3 in May from 87.1 in April.
It does feel like we've gained a little breathing room, but this picture sticks in my mind:
That second quarter of 2000 should remind us that it sometimes looks pretty sunny before the storm.
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