Yowza! Happy days are here again! According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit group that determines when recessions begin and end, said the recession which began December 2007 ended June 2009. Their report is media buzz today.
To their credit, the cited report states that this determination is not a statement concerning the present or future state of the economy, other than it is not currently in a technical recession. The NBER's announcement is determined by empirical data, so this is not just a political sleight-of-hand.
Still, reality tells us that we cannot yet cheer that a firm recovery is in place. To the contrary, there are many major factors - again, empirical data - that indicate that the American economy remains at significant risk. Mike Larson of Weiss Market Research notes recently that:
Industrial production growth decelerated to 0.2% in August from 0.6% in July.
Best Buy same store sales fell 1% from a year ago.
The New York Federal Reserve's economic index is at a 14-month low of 4.1 in September, down from 7.1 in August.
Toss in the alarming warnings from around the globe, and it is easy to see how today's news does not really give us a cheery outlook yet. The real problem with this "recovery" is that it remains politically manufactured, and the federal government's bullets are becoming quickly depleted. This is not to say that they cannot prolong the appearance of recovery, but virtually nothing that has been done to date actually allows the markets to clear up their problems and get on with real recovery. Housing crisis? Still there. Credit crisis? Still there. Failed financial institutions? Still there. Still to come: Commercial real estate crisis. Bond bubble crisis. Dollar currency crisis.
Not a pretty picture until the respective markets can clear the damage from their books. An unpleasant prospect, to be sure, but once it is done, then real, sustainable recovery can begin. Until then, plan to suffer through more of the same.