A Quick Roundup Of The Morning News

As the markets comes to grips with the fact that China is not going to conjure up some magic that will pull the world out of the doldrums, let’s do a quick wrap-up of the news and data.

First, of course, is China. I didn’t understand all the heavy panting yesterday about the supposedly imminent announcement that China was to embark on a new stimulus plan. Someday you might turn China into a nation of consumers but that’s going to take a long time. A stimulus plan, no matter how big, isn’t going to boost consumption over night.

Bottom line, the premier didn’t have anything new to offer and the talking heads have moved on to other things. The WSJ Real Time Economics blog has some thoughts from economists on what he did say and what it means. For my money though go to Michael Pettis’s China Financial Markets. He’s a realist, he lives in China and once again puts things in proper perspective.

The headline number on new jobless claims is that they fell to 639,000 from 650,000. As readers of this blog know, this number is very volatile and the right number to focus on is the four week moving average. This number increased 2,000 to 641,750. Here’s the link to the NYT article with details.

Retail sales for February were off 0.7%. While this number is a bit better than the last few months, it is dressed up a bit by Wall-Mart. They saw sales increase by 5.1%. Without those results sales would have fallen 4.1%. NYT link here. 

Simon Johnson writing for the Baseline Scenario has an important post about the potential ramifications of the apparent policy that is being used to try and nurse the banks back to health. It is a troubling article. Given his background with the IMF and experience with putting countries back together, his thoughts deserve notice.

It’s 9:25 MST and Citibank just broke the buck. It’s trading at $0.99. I’ll leave you for awhile with that happy thought.

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