The good news: U.S. data are not double-dipping. The fresh, August survey of purchasing managers by the Institute for Supply Management found the service sector improved to 53.3 from 52.7 in July, a reading corresponding to U.S. Gross Domestic Product growth in the 2 percent range.
This modest good news does not explain the stock market again in free fall today, or the 10-year Treasury thumping down to 1.9 percent. To explain the newest swan dive, look to Europe, and a tale of two speeches.
Default by Greece is imminent. Again. Maybe this weekend. Maybe Europe will buy more time; maybe default will be an anticlimax, but markets today anticipate chaos.
Then, the two speeches.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke at midday Thursday.