Consumer spending debunks new recession theories

Commentary: European debt deal is another 'can-kick'

On the same morning the newest Euro-can clunked along came news that American third-quarter GDP jumped 2.5 percent — not far above forecast, but the shape of the gain was a stunning surprise. The strength was in the consumer, a 2.4 percent increase in household spending. Common distortions were absent: no weird upside-downs in trade accounts, and inventories if anything understated gross domestic product. Inflation also waned.

The Euro-can got all the ink, but in any cross-weaving flow of economic data, the most important thread is always U.S. data. The report distributed concussions evenly among all of those who had bet on a new recession; and banged an especially embarrassing knot on the head of the respected Economic Cycle Research Institute. The ECRI had never in its history false-called a recession; two weeks ago it said that the U.S. was either rapidly falling into recession or was already in one.