FOR INVESTMENT BANKERS, MAYBE Happy Days Are we going to avoid a recession altogether? That's what you might come away with if you read this article from today's Wall Street Journal, which reports that "a growing number of economists —including some who not long ago were saying a recession was all but inevitable... note that stock and credit markets have steadily improved since the Federal Reserve intervened to keep Bear Stearns Cos. from bankruptcy in early March, while a series of economic reports have been stronger than expected." Similarly, the New York Times's David Leonhardt says that the "economic news hasn't exactly been sunny lately, but there also haven't been any nasty new surprises. If anything, the economy seems to have stabilized. The pace of layoffs has eased a bit, stocks have risen and the Fed has signaled that the rate cuts are over for now."
Look a little more closely, however, and the data is murkier: