Friday, October 31, 2003

7.2 PERCENT GOP GROWTH? I've been hearing from certain corners that the economy is "in recovery" for so long -- almost as long, it seems, as many of my friends have been looking for jobs -- that this cheerful GDP report is not stimulating me a whole hell of a lot. Way the new jobs at? Never fear, sez the Murdoch Post:
The nation's payrolls grew by 57,000 last month. New unemployment-benefits claims dropped, which suggests that layoffs are slowing.

The payroll number is nice, if insufficient, but the drop in unemployment claims, as careful stat-watchers will know, could be attributed to the growth of freelance employment, whose practitioners are not eligible for unemployment when the work dries up. Also:
...the [tax] cuts "for the rich"... spurred an unexpected wave of across-the-board consumer spending -- particularly on durable goods, the expensive long-term items, which rose by 27 percent.

Moreover, overseas investment was up sharply. So was business investment in equipment and technology.

Well, someone's buying all those fridges and cars, but it hasn't been me or mine. And I find the upticks in "overseas investment" (offshore job centers?) and "equipment and technology" (robots that can shuffle papers?) more ominous than encouraging.

We can only hope that irrational exuberance will again take hold. But I wonder if GDP numbers -- which measure, after all, the base value of American goods and services -- will excite the average American as much as it does the decidely untypical souls now beating their pots and pans. It's hard to excite real people with numbers that don't appear on paychecks or bank account display screens. But then, maybe our bosses will be more easily excited (they certainly were in the '90s!), and throw money at us. So I guess there's some cause for optimism.

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