We have a truly splendid outbreak of spring fever in the markets and media, the infected running about in circles, yelling "Inflation! Money-printing! Dollar crashing!" Before rounding them up, a moment for the economy: inbound data are on the weak side. First-quarter U.S. gross domestic product, expected everywhere (until March) to be in excess of 4 percent growth, maybe 5 percent, arrived at 1.8 percent. Net of distortions, probably closer to 2.5 percent, but not going anywhere -- certainly not fast enough to absorb labor or houses. Orders for durable goods did rise 1.2 percent in March, with manufacturing continuing as the one bright spot. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index found falling home prices in February (Again. Duh.). The surprise of most concern ...
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