Last Friday’s most recent set of employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were pretty disappointing, to say the least, and set off a market correction that persisted until yesterday, June 9, at which point we finally saw a modest uptick across all the major market indices (Dow, S&P500, Nasdaq, and so forth). New jobs for May totaled a mere 54,000 after a much more vigorous figure for the preceding month, and the rate of unemployment (9.1%) and total count of unemployed persons (13.9 million) were both essentially unchanged.
Things are still limping along slowly and painfully, rather than gliding effortlessly from month to month. I’m seeing a pattern best described as “one step forward, then two steps back” emerging from recent patterns of activity. Of course, businesses are still holding onto their cash unsure that they can part from reserves they still believe might be necessary to cover cash flow needs (it’s hard to invest in growth, when you can’t be sure incoming cash flow is going to offset necessary outflows). Likewise, consumers are having trouble with confidence, and aren’t inclined to initiate spending sprees (or part with as much discretionary income as usual) right now.
Here we are again: Hunker down, do only what’s absolutely necessary, and keep waiting for things to improve. What is it going to take to get things moving again? I wish I knew: I’d invest in my ideas, in hope that this might be the beat of the butterfly’s wing that gets the whole system moving forward again.