Over the last few months, my opinion about the economy has changed. I have come from a very bearish stance to one of moderate bullishness. I say moderate because it is my belief the facts (not my opinion) indicate the worst is behind us. In other words, the economy is in a trough, the worst is over and now we are in the process of moving "forward" (and I use the word forward in an extremely liberal sense).
This is the chart that started it
Yes -- I know the level is still high. But notice the 4-week moving average topped out in February and has since moved lower? Also notice the number is no longer advancing? Finally, notice this is the only period where this type of movement has happened in the last year and a half? That is good news. I am also aware that people are still losing their jobs at a fast rate. But, you have to start somewhere. The economy is not just going to emerge from a horrible mess at 3% growth and 5% unemployment -- it's just not going to happen.
Now -- combine that chart with this one:
Then I started to notice these charts of public sentiment:
Notice the number of people who think the economy is poor has decreased and the number of people who think it's fair has increased (even though the number of fair's has decreased of late it is still higher than it was a few months ago).
Notice the number of people who say the economy is getting better is increasing? Even though there has been a move back higher in the "economy getting worse number" the positive response is still increasing.
Then we have this poll:
Simply put, people are feeling better about the economy. This is a huge issue because happier people are more like to spend more money.
And there are other pieces as well.
The ISM Manufacturing index bottomed at the end of last year and is currently increasing.
The ISM non-manufacturing index is has bottomed as well.
The point is there are multiple data points that show the worst is behind us.
NOW LET ME ADD -- I have been very clear that I think the recovery will be weak at best. Simply put, there are no strong drivers going forward. And that means we should get use to lower growth and higher unemployment for the foreseeable future. But that does not mean we should ignore the facts and not opinions.