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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Samuelson on Recovery?

Robert Samuelson has a good WP column today in which he does what many pundits and pseudo-economists have been reluctant to do lately--admit he is unclear about whether the economy is headed for recovery or not. His cataloguing of the contradictory indicators is useful, except for a minor gaffe, his claim that, "confidence indicators have increased"--obviously this was written before the decline in consumer confidence was reported yesterday.

Still, it's good to compare Samuelson's candor with the puzzling self-assurance of one of my favorite op-ed writers of all, Paul Krugman, who wrote on Friday that, "There is very little evidence in the data for a strong recovery ready to break out." On Friday, the Dow was up 170 points on strong new home starts data and a rise in durable goods orders. The truth is that there is some evidence of recovery mixed with other signs of weakness, as Samuelson notes.

By the way, this must be a big day over at WaPo. Yesterday their editorial page asked Bush to hold a press conference, and this morning W did just that. Who knew the Post had such influence?