Money madness: the economy's new gold standard

Commentary: Inflation should not be a prime worry for U.S.

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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 is the rise in people filing new claims for unemployment insurance. At the peak of optimism last winter, weekly filings fell into the 380,000-range; last week were 429,000, the recent average above 400,000 for the first time in two months.