In case you are tempted to get caught up in the details of immigration policy or the VP gossip mill: Remember, it’s still the economy that matters most. And it’s still awful.
Global growth worries slammed stocks, triggering a bearish recommendation from Goldman Sachs that accelerated declines and helped drive major benchmarks to their second-biggest losses of the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 250.82 points, or 2%, to 12573.57, while Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 30.18 points, or 2.2%, to 1325.51. The Nasdaq Composite shed 71.36 points, or 2.4%, to 2859.09, pacing to snap a five-session streak of gains. . . .
Another sour reading from the jobs market also weighed. The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell slightly last week, though the prior week’s figure was revised higher, indicating the labor market is sputtering.
“What we’re seeing is the job market slowing to a crawl,” said Saira Malik, head of global equity research for TIAA-CREF in San Francisco.
The good news is that oil prices keep dropping. Alas, that’s likely a sign of slowed economic activity.
The news is so consistently bad that none of this generated special comment from the White House. Others, however, do take notice.
Via Jim Pethokoukis, Don Rissmiller at Strategas Research tells us:
All companies report revenues, costs, and profits in nominal dollars. With sluggish nominal GDP, it’s not clear we have fast enough growth to see both profits expand and labor compensation grow (to support future top-line growth).
That’s the “something” that is wrong. It’s tough to say you are in a self-reinforcing wage-income-sales spiral with the “pie” expanding so sluggishly. This doesn’t mean you have to be in recession, in inflation-adjusted terms, right away. But it does suggest the U.S. economy is vulnerable to shocks, especially if other exogenous sources of demand are waning (Europe is weakening, China is slowing, India is slowing, etc).
Translation: We are perilously close to “recession” territory. If we get there or any closer, you can forget about Fast and Furious, immigration, Obamacare and most everything else. The president is nearly out of time and distractions. The dimming economic outlook drives his chances of reelection down with each passing week. (Intrade has Mitt Romney at 42 percent. It’s a steal — buy.)