Five Things: Predicting the Recession's End
Also, we must stimulate the stimulus; new American savers; and much more.
That was the headline on Bloomberg late yesterday, after New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman delivered a lecture at the London School of Economics.
"I would not be surprised if the official end of the US recession ends up being, in retrospect, dated sometime this summer," Krugman said, according to Bloomberg.
And there's your headline.
But, as BTIG Chief Market Strategist Mike O'Rourke pointed out last night, there's always more to the story, particularly for those who prefer to see things through to the end. Only moments after discussing the recession's end, Krugman added this caveat:
"[A]s I said at the beginning, the Japanese lost decade is actually starting to look good in terms of depth right now, it was not nearly as deep as what we are going through and I am actually worried that it will start to look good in terms of duration as well."
It's true -- people see what they want to see. A headline writer approaching the market from an optimistic perch can't be faulted for swooping in and locking onto the "recession's end" theme anymore than a grizzled veteran with ink-stained hands can be faulted if she chose the "Krugman Predicts Lost Decade for US" theme.
Meanwhile, Bank of America (BAC)/Merrill Lynch took a slightly different tack on the Krugman speech this morning, noting that this is the same economist who forecast, in June of 2003, that, " The current surge in stocks looks like another bubble, one that will eventually burst," which, as they point out, was true, if "only about 4 years early."
And that brings me to my point: The economy and the stock market are not the same thing.
2. We Must Stimulate the Stimulus?
It's a very good thing that the stock market and the economy are truly different beasts: Every time I get even remotely optimistic and think that perhaps we won't conclude 2009 by collapsing into a pile of rubble that gets bulldozed into a sinkhole on the Florida panhandle, I see a headline like this:
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