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Potentially Good Economic News   February 4th, 2009
Amidst the gloom and doom headlines, there is reason for optimism       


More observations...

While daily headlines continue to report job losses, business failures, foreclosures, and reductions in consumer spending, there have been an increasing number of data points that suggest that maybe we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

A few examples:

Regarding the stock market:

Buffett's metric says it's time to buy... According to investing guru Warren Buffett, U.S. stocks are a logical investment when their total market value equals 70% to 80% of Gross National Product. Is it time to buy U.S. stocks?

According to both this 85-year chart and famed investor Warren Buffett, it just might be. The point of the chart is that there should be a rational relationship between the total market value of U.S. stocks and the output of the U.S. economy - its GNP.

Regarding home sales:
The number of new sales contracts on existing homes jumped a seasonally adjusted 6.3% in December as buyers took advantage of lower mortgage rates and falling prices, a real estate trade group said Tuesday.The pending home sales index rose 6.3% in December and is now up 2.1% compared with a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said. The increase points to a healthy gain in existing-home sales in January and February.

Regarding manufacturing in December:
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing index rose to 40.6 from 37.3 in November. Economists predicted a decline to 37, according to a Briefing.com consensus survey.

Then regarding manufacturing in January:
U.S. nonmanufacturing sectors continued to contract but at a slower pace in January, according to a Wednesday report from the Institute for Supply Management, with the global slowdown taking its toll on demand. The ISM non-manufacturing index rose to 42.9% in January from 40.1% in December... Economists polled by MarketWatch were looking for a January result of 39%. Readings below 50% indicate that more firms are contracting than expanding.

Regarding job loss/unemployment:
Private sector job losses slowed slightly in January, ADP Employer Services said on Wednesday in a report that came in slightly below economists' expectations.

ADP said private employers cut 522,000 jobs in January versus a revised 659,000 jobs lost in December. The December job cuts were originally reported at 693,000.

Economists had expected 530,000 private sector job cuts in January, according to the median of 27 forecasts in a Reuters poll, which ranged widely from a drop of 720,000 to losses of 495,000.

Investing genius Warren Buffet suggests the stock market is at a good place for a recovery. Housing sales contracts are up month-over-month and year-over-year. The ISM manufacturing index has stubbornly resisted economists' predictions of further weakening and, instead, improve two months in a row. And jobless claims also resisted economists' more pessimistic predictions.

So while President Obama says "Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months" and "the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better" and "We don't have a moment to spare" and that "A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe" , the reality is that there are a number of indicators that suggest that not only might we have a moment to spare, we might already be turning the corner.

Can things get worse? Of course. But while the news making headlines is the gloom and doom of job losses and bad earnings, there is an undercurrent of potentially good news that gives us reason for optimism and reason to think twice about trillion-dollar stimulus packages that will load further debt on our nation and on our children.

Which is probably why we're not seeing the good news making the banner headlines.

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