The stock market’s roaring, and applications for unemployment are down, but there was disappointing news in Thursday’s economic data. In January manufacturing growth slowed, construction spending dipped, and Americans’ after-tax income fell, leading to a fourth straight month of weak consumer spending. Guest host Terrence McNally explores the continued gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and what we can do about it.
Although it’s down a bit today, the Dow hit 13,000 this week for the first time since May, 2008. NASDAQ flirted with 3000. One US company, Apple, is now valued at over $500 billion, higher than the gross domestic product of Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia or Taiwan. Yet manufacturing growth has slowed, construction spending has slipped, and consumer spending remains weak. Both housing construction and Americans’ after-tax income actually fell in January. What accounts for the disparity? How important is it? What can be done about it? And how will all this play out in this year’s elections?
* Daniel Gross: Yahoo! Finance, @grossdm
* Robert H. Frank: Cornell University
* Tom Donlan: Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly
* Dean Baker: Center for Economic and Policy Research, @DeanBaker13
* Gross’ ‘Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Economic Decline’
* Frank’s ‘The Darwin Economy: Liberty Competition and the Common Good’
* Baker’s ‘The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive’