Economic data speaks for itself

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The NASDAQ and Standard and Poor 500 have done even better. The NASDAQ has more than doubled. From 1,440.86 on Inauguration Day, it closed Friday at 3,020.86. That a gain of 112.4 percent.  Meanwhile, the S&P during that time has gained 74.6 percent, from 805.22 to 1,405.84.


These numbers clearly indicate the economy is getting better, that it’s moving in the right direction. National financial and political reporters, with their focus on daily events and the insularity of that world looping Washington and New York, appear to have missed this important story.

The only thing we know for sure about the stock market’s future remains what J. P. Morgan said a century or so ago. It will fluctuate. These huge gains since Inauguration Day provide a factual basis, however, for believing the economy under President Obama is hardly a “record of failure.”

But there is more. The Motley Fool, a well-respected source of market research, by coincidence ran a piece Friday headlined “25 Reasons to Believe in the Market Rally.” Here are some samples.

--Nonfarm payrolls added 163,000 jobs in July. This number more than doubled the 64,000 in June.
--The Conference Board’s overall Consumer Confidence Index increased to 65.9 for July, up from 62.7 in June. That’s a 5.2 percent increase.
--This June marked the lowest trade deficit for the United States in 18 months.
--The number of home foreclosures in the U.S. fell 10 percent in July over the previous year. It marked the 22nd consecutive month of declines. 
--The number of delinquent mortgages in the U.S. is down 13 percent from a year ago.

Data bores a lot of people, but these facts tell us something. The most engaging political debate this fall may be the one between the devoted Ayn Rand follower Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden. 

Bass is a former Nieman fellow at Harvard, author or co-author of eight books, and professor of humanities and social sciences emeritus at the College of Charleston.