Lots of good news on the economic front yestserday. The Washington Times reports:
“Major stock indexes, buoyed by declining unemployment and booming sales at the nation’s department stores, yesterday climbed to their highest levels of the year, marking the first anniversary of a new bull market.
“Retailers from Wal-Mart to the Gap reported the biggest monthly increase in sales since March 2002, a gain of 5.9 percent during September, according to Michael Niemira, economist with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd. The bank had been expecting an increase of only 3.5 percent in sales at the 77 chain stores it tracks. ‘Broad-based improvement is now at hand,’ after years of sporadic sales, said Mr. Niemira. ‘Clearly, the consumer is on the comeback.’
“Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment benefits dropped from 405,000 to 382,000 last week, the lowest level since February. That stoked hopes that declining joblessness will bolster confidence and incomes….
“A survey of corporate chief executives by the Conference Board recorded a surge in confidence to an 11-year high, reflecting the belief in executive suites that the economic recovery is gathering speed. Also, a measure of manufacturing activity published by the Manufacturers Alliance yesterday showed the best conditions in that battered sector in six years.”
I’m no economist, but it seems that the current rebound is both strong and broad-based enough to bring back long-awaited boom times. And the timing of the rally will persuade many people, correctly, that President Bush’s tax cuts had a lot to do with the economy’s takeoff.
Best of all, the news isn’t coming too late. Public perceptions of the economy lag far behind reality, but with a year to go before the election, it will be hard for newspapers and television reporters to keep the good news a secret, especially since the economy has really been fairly good for quite some time.
By November 2004, a lot of people may be wondering what that Howard Dean fellow is so upset about.
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