Quite impressed with everyone's understanding of economic behavior and principles.
Reminder that national (federal) data has been skewed the last 10+ years from being politicized. The unemployment moving average was introduced, then shortened, M3 removed... economic indicators were changed, by massaging some of their variables to allow the presentation of progress.
IMO, local unemployment figures are usually more accurate because the local pool is less of an approximation (rather than census over the whole for feds).
Additionally account for the effects of the 'Plunge Protection Team'; It's officially called the president's Working Group on Financial Markets. They manipulate the markets to keep them from crashing, uh, for the benefit of ...umm, yeah, the bankers and 'them'! ?? (Interesting note of their activities, nice example but dated.. FSU Editorial: "The 'Plunge Protection Team' Working Overtime" by Gary Dorsch 08/09/2007
In sum, know your basic economic principles, adjust for skewed data, offset PPT activities, guesstimate derivative market activity (good luck with that one), sprinkle with CEO morality and ta-da you have a good shot at seeing how things *really* are. .. at least in the 51 percentile of being on track.
Kinda crappy is therefore the outlook in my overall guesstimation and thankfully almost everyone is seeing it too. Truth is rumored to be stranger than fiction afterall.