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We've Seen the Future, And It's Unemployed


When celebrating GDP growth, don't forget 500,000-plus new jobless.

Editor's Note: The following was posted in real time on our premium Buzz & Banter (click for a free trial). It's being shared here for the benefit of the Minyanville community.

To believe the media, the recession is over. And, to quote Larry Summers, the GDP report is "welcome news."

Don't get me wrong -- I'd really like to believe that the recession is over and that the GDP report is a positive. But a few thoughts:

First, I wouldn't underestimate how much fourth-quarter organic growth was represented in third-quarter GDP. Between Cash for Clunkers and the housing tax credit there was enormous demand pulled forward. At the same time, I'd remind Minyans that an equal amount of effort has been taken by Washington to push into the future as much bad news as possible in the banking sector through things like loan modifications.

To put it simply, the US has taken a page out of Doctor Dolittle, and our third quarter was the economic equivalent of the Pushmipullyu -- two quarters of good with no bad. And listening to CNBC last night describe how retailers (RTH) are launching Black Friday sales this weekend suggests that we're redoubling our demand acceleration efforts into as many areas of commerce as we can.

But one of these days, tomorrow will come.

And I'd remind Minyans that every earnings report you've read over the past three weeks represents the best 3.5% GDP can offer. And yet revenues consistently fell short of expectations. And, looking at September quarter-end loan delinquencies, there's been little to no improvement from the second quarter.

For what its worth, GDP is the past and unemployment is the future. And while all of Wall Street celebrated last quarter's GDP growth yesterday, everyone forgot the 500,000-plus new unemployed.

How long the Federal Government can pull the strings on Our Marionette Economy is anyone's guess. But like "revenue recognition" in the private sector, GDP "recognition" is all in the timing.

But to my ears, our Pushmipullyu economy is speaking loud and clear: Air pocket ahead.
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