It Wasn’t All Bad News Today

A couple good pieces of economic news were buried under all the auto company talk today. I had to go overseas to find it but there it was.

In the U.K. there is some sign that the decline in housing prices is declining and the number of loan applications for purchases was at the highest level since May 2008. I suspect that the numbers in England are as subject to error and misinterpretation as they are here but things do have to quit getting worse before they can get better.

In Japan industrial production is expected to begin picking up as most companies have been able to burn off inventory that was choking them at the end of the year. Output is expected to be up by 2.9% in March and 3.1% in April.

The Japanese numbers represent an important trend worldwide. JPMorgan Chase reported that globally inventories had hit an 11 year low. In most cases inventories have hit levels that will allow production to grow at a moderate rate. It isn’t recovery but again it represents a change in trend direction.

It’s another example of the speed with which the contraction took place. I still think that it’s an open question as to whether that implies an equally sharp recovery but I do think that it implies that we might not wallow along the bottom for quite so long. The fact that many industries quickly cut back may mean that the realignment with existing demand won’t be quite so retarded by excess capacity.

That’s my look on the bright side.

more: here and here

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