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Chicken Little
(March 28, 2001) The index of leading economic indicators declined by 0.2% in February, after a revised gain of 0.5% in January and three straight months of declines during the last quarter of 2000. But even this is far from a recession, which is generally defined as an annualized decline of 3.5% over a six-month period.

So, what's all this talk about an economic downturn?

The Conference Board, known for its economic forecasts, swears that there is no chance of recession. The unemployment rate hasn't budged while new jobs are being created faster than companies can lay off old employees. There are many areas of the country with unemployment rates below 2%. according to FlipDog's Job Opportunity Index, 21 States have more job openings than workers. The top 10 are:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Virginia
  6. Connecticut
  7. Minnesota
  8. Vermont
  9. Maryland
  10. Washington
Given the brouhaha about dot com failures, you'd be tempted to think that these are precisely the places where the supposed recession has hit the hardest. Silicon Valley is still adding jobs.

The stock market is a separate issue. With 60% of the value gone from the NASDAQ and nearly 30% out of the DOW, it's a solid time for reappraisal. Like people, economies need moments of introspection. Unfortunately, the broadcast media can do little with a story like "the economy is taking a moment to reflect on itself" and needs to describe the thing in terms that are more concrete.

As a result, we've seen amazing silliness from people who are unable to judge things from their own environments. The post-bubble panic seems, from here, to be more irrational than the original exuberance. We join the Conference Board in swearing that there is absolutely no chance of a recession this year.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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