How to end economic stalemate

Commentary: 'Time to bite the bullet'

Markets lurched from nowhere to nowhere this week, waiting for deals. Or no deals. Or to see what kind.

The deal watch deflected attention from the economy, which, after all, is the whole point of the show. New data said a lot by saying nothing. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve index, new unemployment, sales of existing homes, starts of new homes, home prices, mortgage applications — all flat, neither sinking back into recession nor going anywhere.

Goldman Sachs announced lousy earnings, having retreated from trading risk. If Goldman doesn’t feel like taking risk, who should? And after its initial public offering this week, Zillow is worth a billion bucks — forget about profits and business plan … if it’s tech, someone will buy the stock.

The markets told us what to think about pending deals. On Tuesday, when it looked as though a big U.S. budget deal was back on, deep spending cuts and some revenue raised, stocks jumped 200 Dow points, and interest rates fell, the 10-year Treasury note almost breaking two months’ resistance at 2.88 percent.