Another Day of Weak Statistics Rounds

Out Tough Week for U.S. Economy

Those looking for a silver lining on a week defined by a blow to the previously untouchable “AAA” U.S. credit rating and the subsequent rollercoaster ride on Wall Street weren’t going to find it in a couple of monthly studies unveiled at week’s end.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced June export totals of $170.9 billion and imports of $223.9 billion. The $53.1 billion deficit is the largest in two years.

Additionally, June exports were $4.1 billion off of May’s pace on lower demand in Europe and, to a lesser extent, Latin America as well as stagnant demand in Asia.

Still, Friday’s headline-grabber in the mainstream media was the University of Michigan/ThompsonReuters Consumer Sentiment Index’s fall from 63.7 to 54.9, the lowest rate in 31 years. Factors such as a housing market that has failed to show significant recovery, ongoing high unemployment and the newfound fears stoked up in the highly politicized and partisan debate over debt ceiling/budget matters appear to be the lead scapegoats for the shattered domestic optimism. 

Along with the rest of the week’s poor economic news, some analysts are starting to bandy about the dreaded “r word” (recession) again as well as a resurgence in talk of a double-dip. It’s far from a consensus, but it’s firmly back on the radar.

Surprisingly, the stock market surged Friday though, given that volatility now appears to be the norm on Wall Street, it appeared to be comforting few.

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer