The Week's Economic Reports Were Mostly Good; Old Media Spin Was Generally Dismal
The week had a gusher of economic news, and most of it was favorable:
- Thursday, 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised sharply upward to 4.0% from July's initial estimate of 3.4%; the final GDP number for the second quarter comes out in late September.
- The most comprehensive quarterly housing report issued, from the government's Office for Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), showed that home prices nationwide increased ever so slightly during the 2nd quarter, and were 3.19% higher than a year earlier. That year-over-year result is greater than inflation during the same period.
- Factory orders (HT WoMD's Blast) increased 3.7% in July.
- Consumer spending rose by 0.4 percent in July (HT WoMD's Blast), double the June increase, while incomes rose by 0.5 percent, the best showing in four months.
- The only really bad news I can think of at the moment: Consumer confidence took a hit in two different reports during the week (here and here).
Well of course consumer confidence was due for a hit. With the press, especially Time Magazine, working overtime to make the housing situation look like the crisis of the century, it's a wonder that anyone's getting out of bed to face the day.
Martin "Yeah, But" Crutsinger of the Associated Press also dished out his usually doses of cold water in his report on consumer spending. Here are examples:
Consumers returned to the malls in July after taking a breather in June, although worries about the future could make the rebound short-lived.
..... However, economists cautioned that the July increases could be temporary given recent weakness in consumer confidence caused by a prolonged slump in housing and the past few weeks of financial market turbulence.
..... The worst slump in housing in 16 years has already slowed economic growth and the worry is that if the fallout becomes severe enough, it could push the country into a recession. Already economists are forecasting that overall growth, which rebounded to a strong 4 percent annual rate in the spring, will slow in the current quarter to around 2 percent and could fall below 2 percent in the final three months of the year.
..... The 0.5 percent increase in incomes in July was the best increase since a 0.8 percent jump in March. But there are worries that the slowing economy could hurt job creation in coming months.
..... The 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending was the best showing since a 0.6 percent gain in May. However, if incomes falter and confidence sags, those gains could quickly evaporate.
It's hard not to think that there's just a little bit of hope for bad times in Crutsinger's prose.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.