The stock market is up, Europe seems to have stabilized and unemployment is falling. Obama's campaign staff is feelin' good and the recovery is underway.
Or is it?
One thing I learned from my college economics classes is that you can twist just about any number to get a positive score from it. Unemployment is easily manipulated and if one delves into the internals of the latest "good news," one finds that the truth is far less encouraging: In absolute terms, less people are working than in the month previous.
That's right, there are less jobs than there were a month ago, and the number has been steadily falling, despite the seeming improvement in the unemployment rate.
How can this be? Simple: The feds are shrinking the labor force.
Unemployment is a measure of the people willing and able to work who can't find jobs. What the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been doing for the past few months is simply shrinking this pool, declaring that people who have been out of work long enough aren't looking any more.
This turns the whole measurement on its head and renders it worthless. As the deeply pessimistic but insightful Zero Hedge has pointed out, if BLS decides enough unemployed have left the work force, we could be at zero unemployment in no time.
The truth is that the economy is not really improving. The housing market has yet to hit bottom and the full crushing weight of Obamacare has yet to be felt in all its job-killing glory.
When the Greek default hits Europe full force, the drop in trade may well cause another full-scale recession - except that we've now added three trillion more dollars to our national debt and have already cut interest rates to zero.
This is the nightmare of many economists. The Fed and the Obama administration are staring at empty ammunition boxes - they have nothing else to try. Pumping vast amounts of money did not restart the engine and flooding the market with dollars hasn't done anything except build the beginnings of a tidal wave of inflation. Food, utilities, gas - all are up sharply.
Here again, though, the federal government can goose the numbers to argue that "core inflation" is nonexistent.
The reality is otherwise, and this is where the administration's spin fails. People know that their groceries cost more and that gas is more expensive. They look around them and they don't see their friends and family finding work.
There is an irony to all this cheerleading optimism, and I well remember how George W. Bush was hammered for his "jobless recovery" in 2004. Now we actually have a "recovery" with less jobs than when it started - millions less.