Friday's jobs report could be a real downer
China's economy is cooling off, the euro crisis has given investors the heebie jeebies, and US manufacturing contracted for the first time in 3 years in June.
All this adds up to bad news for the president and for America.
The reports, just four months before voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, come amid a wave of bad news on the global economy, which is seen by both the White House and President Obama's critics as the most potent threat to his chances of securing a second term in office.
China's economy, which helped pull the world out of recession, is slowing dramatically, while the European debt crisis continues to bite at the American recovery. The White House is bracing for the June jobs report on Friday, which economists expect will show gains of roughly 100,000 - not enough to stifle unemployment.
Manufacturing had been a key component of job growth earlier this year, but the index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) found national factory activity fell in June to 49.7 from 53.5 the previous month. Any reading below 50 shows a contracting in activity, while a reading of 47 would suggest a recession.
The ISM report shifted attention back to the economy after a period in which Obama has been boosted by the prominence of other issues.
While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney views any day where the main subject is not the economy as a lost opportunity, Obama benefits when the subject is shifted to other issues that could offer him solider ground - or simply an opportunity to attack his rival.
The last couple of months, economists have been terrible in predicting the number of jobs created.That number of 100,000 new jobs for June seems more like a prayer than a prediction.
One big question is how many more workers will enter the category of "too discouraged to look for employment." How many more workers will settle for part time employment? The economic engine is in stall mode and no one from either party seems to know how to fix it.