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Retail sales rose to a level that exceeded expectations by about 200% in March, demonstrating the strength of the economic expansion:
Shoppers turned out in force in March, a Commerce Department report Tuesday showed, pushing retail sales to their strongest gain in a year. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose an unexpectedly sharp 1.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted $333.01 billion, the biggest gain since March 2003. Excluding cars and trucks, sales gained 1.7%, that category's best performance since March 2000. Wall Street analysts had expected both figures to advance 0.6%.
February sales were also revised upward, to a 1.0% increase from the previously reported 0.7% gain. February ex-auto sales were revised to a 0.6% increase from a previously reported flat reading.
In a further indication of consumer confidence, home-improvement spending rose over 10%, demonstrating homeowner security in the overall economy. Wall Street expected to see only moderate growth in sales; these results should spark a decent rally later today.
John Kerry faces a difficult task: selling the notion of a failing economy to a nation that demonstrates growing confidence in its success. Sooner or later, that message will face its tipping point, and Kerry will wind up with egg on his face. Expect to see Kerry continue to find arcane methods of measuring economic performance, such as his suggested "misery index", which laughingly showed strong economic growth during the Carter presidency.
UPDATE: Power Line has some background on the creaky contraption that is Kerry's misery index. And the non-partisan Factcheck.org notes several problems with Kerry's methodology, as well as comparing the "classic" misery indices of Clinton and Bush, and another going all the way back to Carter. (Hat tip: reader Mark.)Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Not Enough Misery for John Kerry from Daily Newsbrief
In case you aren't sick of me talking about the misery index yet, here's an interesting table I found: Misery Index The "misery index" (inflation plus unemployment) in Presidential re-election years Year Inf. Unemp. Misery index 1976 Ford 5.8... [Read More]
Tracked on April 13, 2004 3:42 PM
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