The conventional wisdom held that this time China would lead the world out of recession. That hasn’t happened. China’s growth rate keeps being revised downward — most recently by the World Bank — and the leadership succession in Beijing is causing great uncertainty. Meanwhile, the eurozone crisis grinds on, with much of the continent as well as the United Kingdom in recession. Brazil, India and other hitherto fast-growing emerging markets are struggling.
In the United States, a long-awaited upswing in the business cycle is gaining traction. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent the month before despite a rise of workers entering the labor force. September foreclosures fell to a five-year low, and evidence continues to accumulate that the housing market is finally hitting bottom. Prices in many areas are rising. Fresh evidence on the housing front just arrived, as Weyerhaeuser hiked its dividend two cents to of 17 cents per share on Nov. 30 to shareholders of record Nov. 9. It said there were signs of an improving housing market. The Consumer Confidence Index improved in September. The stock market rally continues. Inflation is tame.
This is not your father’s recovery, or like any we’ve seen since the end of World War II, but it’s real if very slow and uneven. Many signals are mixed.
It’s also a fragile moment. Infection from Europe remains a danger. Government job cuts — in past recessions government has added jobs — have kept unemployment high. The Too Big To Exist Banks are a danger to the safety of the world financial system. The Tea Party House will still risk the nation in order to get its way politically. This upswing won’t heal inequality or the large number of bad jobs. But if this modest but real momentum can continue, then President Obama can take solace in January for “staying the course,” or new President Romney can claim credit for a new morning in America.
And Don’t Miss: As Europe shows, perpetual austerity is untenable || Project Syndicate
Today’s Econ Haiku:
A shot of sadness
In the cup of Tully’s woes
Bankruptcy on top