Stability is an illusion

Commentary: From stocks to Treasurys, balance is unsteady

Two weeks into the new year, economic conclusions are still in a kind of suspended animation.

This week’s data tilted against "self-sustaining recovery," and so the 10-year T-note survived the newest wave of Treasury bond sales, its 3.3 percent yield near the 2011 low, and mortgages are holding nicely in the high fours.

On the bright side, December industrial production beat the 0.5 percent forecast and gained 0.8 percent, and capacity in use touched 76 percent, the highest since 2008.

Bright but not pink: A lot of capacity has been permanently removed from service, and actual production is now similar to the worst of the last five recessions — up that far. Retail sales rose in December, but take out autos and gasoline and the increase was only 0.4 percent, about half of expectation.