April 15, 2009
Posted: 1503 GMT
Back after a few days off, I'm confronted once again with a flurry of economic indicators. Understanding the current economic slump means analyzing numbers. So let's crunch away!
First, consumer prices are down (o.1% in March versus an expected rise of 0.1%.) This mean inflation is not a problem. This mean central banks can continue to inject cash into the economy and not worry that prices will spiral out of control.
But though inflation is down, "core inflation" is not. Core inflation is inflation minus energy and food prices. This means that by at least one important measure, prices aren't falling but still moderately rising. This may temper how aggressively the economy can be stimulated.
Then there is industrial production. It was down again in March for the 14th time in 15 months. This is one of the most troubling signs: companies are not producing as much as they could because they want to reduce inventories. They are not confident about the future.
Consumers aren't spending. Factories are not producing. Banks have still a long way to go before they start lending money at a level that will kickstart growth.
The numbers on the page tell one story. The reality on the ground is that people are scared. Fear of a protracted recession means even the CEO of America's retailing behemoth doesn't see an end to his troubles anytime soon.
"It's not a V recession, " Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke told a U.S. network, "where we're just going to bounce out and come back."
We'll analyze all the numbers and also discuss banking giant UBS's 7,500 job cuts. Two years into this and banks are still shedding thousands of jobs. We'll look at what this means for ordinary consumers.
Also today, more pirate news. The French navy has apparently detained 11 pirates and a U.S. aid ship escape heave pirate fire off the African coast. We are live in Kenya.
We are also live in Kabul where brave women are today protesting against a Shiite marriage law. They are risking their lives to say no to legislation that essentially legalizes spousal rape and that critics say Afghan president Hamid Karzai initially approved for political reasons. It takes courage to protest against the establishment. In Afghanistan, for women, it takes heroism.
That and the rest of the day's news live at the International Desk.
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