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Can we borrow our way out of debt?

Commentary: Mob mentality supports deleveraging

The end of July usually marks the quietest time of the year for markets. Big-shot bankers are away from trading desks, presumably loading up for August in the Hamptons. This year isn't so quiet. The slowdown beginning in May is now more trend than air pocket, and every new data point matters. This morning's news of sub-par second-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (up 2.4 percent, with half of that by inventory accumulation) has hit stocks and helped bonds and mortgages. On Monday, jumpy markets whipsawed after the "New home sales soared 24 percent in June!" headline turned out to be a minor bounce from a deeper hole: the May sales rate was revised downward, to a 53 percent drop from April. June orders for durable goods were forecast to rise 0.5 percent (core), but fell 0.6 percent. The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence plunked to 50.4. In prior recoveries it averaged over 100, at bottoms of prior recessions: 72. The Fed's July "beige book&qu...

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