Stock markets have moved in almost one direction since their trough in March 2009 – up – but economic growth and job creation have bounced around.
There are some disturbing signs another false start is afoot, but it has become almost taboo to even raise the issue that the U.S. economy, for all of its progress in repairing bank and household balance sheets, may still be at risk.
Since the Fed began cutting back on its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases, the two most important economic releases for financial markets have produced spectacular upsets versus the consensus view – and even the most pessimistic one.
December net hiring collapsed to just 74,000 against consensus expectations of 196,000 – the biggest upset since the U.S. economy had one of its false dawns, in early 2011. It was well below the lowest forecast of 120,000.