Just How Dismal Will the Data Be?
Economic data seem an afterthought given the Wall Street rout. The question this week is not whether the numbers will be good or bad but whether they will be bad or horrendous. September retail sales data are due Wednesday, and based on reports from major chains so far, expect sharp declines. The Federal Reserve will release its "beige book," a compilation of anecdotal data, that day, and it also should show broad weakness and lack of credit availability. Industrial production, out Thursday, and housing starts, on Friday, don't offer much more hope. One potential bright spot: The consumer price index, to be released Thursday, is expected to show a modest 0.1 percent rise in September, reflecting falling fuel costs.
-- Neil Irwin