This has been a strange week, marked by extreme divergence in evaluation of incoming economic data and disconnect between Main Street reality vs. Washington proclamation. Mortgage and Treasury rates were stable -- we no longer have markets, just the Fed (damned glad to have 'em, too). The stock market began badly as solid, blue-collar bank analysts said the obvious: recession losses will soon overtake toxic dithering. Then wise assistance for life insurers gave support, and players turned on the stock-market horsefeathers machine.A 20,000-person decline in unemployment claims was misread as a turning point, ignoring the other 654,000 claimants. Great news: only eight of the top 10 retailers' sales slid, instead of all 10. A gain in February exports was twisted into a gross domestic products floor: the $2 billion rise, 1.6 percent, is the kind of money Wall Street uses to light cigars. Imports collapsed 23 percent, reflecting the actual drop in U.S. demand. The small business stu...
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