It can’t be understated what a bad deal this would be for President Obama. If he could just get the economy to show some momentum headed into the summer, he might be able to pretend his master plan is finally working.
But if the economy gets more sluggish in the summer, even good numbers in the fall won’t be able to help Obama, because the perception that things are rotten will already have been cemented. What’s more, employment is a lagging indicator, meaning that the unemployment rate won’t improve until months after there has been sustained economic growth. So if what the Journal and the Times are reporting is correct, unemployment is unlikely to go much below 8 percent before Election Day, and may yet rise.
If it goes up, Mitt Romney may be able to put his current dog on top of his car, head out on the Interstate, and still win the election.
The Journal explains what’s going on.
Rising layoffs, falling home sales and slowing manufacturing activity are sparking fears that the economic recovery is headed for a springtime stall for the third year in a row.
New data Thursday provided fresh evidence that the job market is losing the momentum it built earlier this year, which could pressure fragile housing markets that have been showing signs of life. Separate reports this week suggested that the factory sector, a source of strength in the recovery, now is being hurt by weak growth overseas.
However, recent signals have been mixed, with worrisome indicators following positive ones—such as consumer confidence and auto sales—that suggest the recovery remains on track. Economists generally believe total economic output in the first three months of the year grew at a rate a bit above two percent—slower than at the end of 2011 but significantly stronger than the same period a year ago.
I would think strong auto sales may be a bad indicator of real economic improvement. It may be that people who have resisted buying may be reentering the market because they haven’t been able to make a purchase for years and their cars are falling apart. Just a guess.
And I don’t care if two percent growth is better than the same quarter a year ago, it’s down from the three percent GDP increase of the last quarter of 2011, and just to use a technical term employed by economists, it sucks.
All of which means the chefs in the Obama campaign kitchen out in Chicago are preparing to stir the pot a little further by adding another dash of class warfare along with a good measure of ad hominen vitriol.
Because those are the only ingredients of success they have.