Signs of spring — but let’s hope frost doesn’t ice it

Is it my imagination or am I really seeing a few signs of relief from the unrelenting barrage of bad news on the economic front? Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal actually included an entire story about economic indicators that weren’t terrible. The retail sales report for January was so good that no one believed it. Maybe something positive is happening — independent of the US Congress, new President and Treasury-Federal Reserve money press?

Yesterday I had a lengthy chat with an editor in Detroit. At the end of our conversation I asked, so, how are things in motorland? I expected to hear a tale of woe. But I didn’t. Much to her surprise as well as mine she launched into a story about heading to a pricey restaurant Saturday night. She and her husband had a gift certificate left from Christmas and they decided to splurge. They didn’t make reservations. In this economy, who needs reservations for high-end eateries? Well, when they arrived, the restaurant was so busy they couldn’t find a place to park.

And then she began talking about vacation homes on Lake Erie — a place completely dependent on the auto industry. A couple of years ago, foreclosures sent the neighborhood reeling. But then people stepped in, bought the foreclosed properties. The buyers either razed the homes or rehabbed them. In any event, one just sold for price well above 2007 levels.

Later that evening, a VC wrote on Twitter that business was better than expected in his neck of the woods.

That make three signs of recovery in one day.  And now on top of that, the WSJ today reports that economists have changed their minds: A recovery won’t emerge in the second quarter, the previous consensus. That’s enough to make me wonder if the market is nearing the trough.

This will be my first post with the tag “recovery”.

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