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. After preamble, and dodging the Fed’s intentions, the body of the speech began: "One striking aspect of the recovery is the unusual weakness in household spending."

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