Is it any wonder President Obama would rather talk about the non-issues surrounding Bain rather than the sinking economy?
Retail sales slipped 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday.
It was the first time sales had dropped in three consecutive months since late 2008, when the economy was still mired in a deep recession. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to rise 0.2 percent.
"Evidence is increasingly clear that the U.S. economy is slowing," said Jim Baird, an investment strategist at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The report adds to a spate of weak economic data that is raising pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November reelection bid. Republican challenger Mitt Romney is focusing his campaign on the weak economy that has plagued Obama's presidency.
The retail sales report raised hopes the Federal Reserve could launch another bond-buying program to help the economy.
U.S. stocks fell and the yield on 10-year government debt declined to an all-time low, reinforcing the view the U.S. economy needs more monetary stimulus. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will brief lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Fed's view of the economy.
Job creation in the United States has slowed dramatically in the last few months as employers worry about a sagging global economy hurt by Europe's snowballing debt crisis. The International Monetary Fund slashed its forecast for global economic growth on Monday, urging European policymakers to take bolder action to stem their crisis and warning that China's economy risks a hard landing.
The U.S. factory sector also has shown signs of contraction due to the global slowdown, although on Monday a survey of New York manufacturers perked up in July after a sharp drop-off the month before.
The retail data is worrisome because it suggests consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of the economy, is also sagging.
With the IMF slashing growth estimates and the jobs picture in the US getting worse, it is very likely there will be no good economic news for the president prior to November. Any claims to improvement he makes will be laughed at. Any drop in unemployment will be due to more people becoming too discouraged to look for work rather than any significant surge in job creation.
Eventually, the attacks on Romney will fail to keep people from focusing on Obama's policy failures. When the economy is front and center again, there will be no place for Obama to hide and avoid the issue.