Signs of life
Commentary: The economy's worst may be past
By Irwin Kellner, MarketWatch
Last update: 12:01 a.m. EST Feb. 24, 2009Comments: 878PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (MarketWatch) -- Although you wouldn't know it from the behavior of the stock market, the economic outlook is turning just a bit less gloomy.
Prosperity may not be just around the corner, but statistical evidence is mounting to suggest that the worst of this recession may soon be past.
And before you inundate me with email alleging that I am out of touch with the real world, let me say right at the top that I am not for one moment saying that the economy has stopped sliding. I am only suggesting that it appears to be contracting at a slower pace.
Clearly, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the stimulus package that the president signed into law last week. As a matter of fact, if the recession does end within the next few months, it will probably be in spite of this package, rather than because of it.
If you want a policy to credit, it's monetary policy. The combination of liquidity that the Federal Reserve has pumped into the economy, along with its special lending programs and capital injections into the banks, is largely responsible.
But you want more than assertions; you want proof. And here it is:
The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators has risen for two months in a row.
Producer prices have increased for two straight months.
Consumer prices rose in January -- the first monthly gain in six months.