Posted Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, at 9:44 AM
I don't want to get anyone too excited since there's still a fair chance that Eurodoom will destroy the American economy next year, but for the past couple of months all the US-centric data has been painting an optimistic picture. Not, to be clear, a great picture. Not a picture of 1984 robust "Morning in America"-style catchup growth. Not an early Roosevelt rapid resurgence of the American economy. But a good picture. A "things are definitely getting better" picture. That's what I'm seeing in the data, and you see it again in the latest new unemployment claims numbers: "In the week ending December 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 366,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 385,000. The 4-week moving average was 387,750, a decrease of 6,500 from the previous week's revised average of 394,250."
Brad DeLong says the seasonal adjustment factor makes it shaky, but if you focus on the unadjusted data you still get "a decrease of 95,506 from the previous week" and a decrease relative to the comparable week one year ago. So I proclaim it good news. Again, not "let's get complacent" good news, but things seem to be improving.