December 22, 2008
What the Heck Happened?
It was springtime in the US. The most recent unemployment number was 5.0%, a slight tic down from the previous month and in line with the previous 12-month, fairly low, average of 4.8%. We were in a quarter of positive real economic growth, a 2.8% annual rate, following a previous quarter of positive growth. On May 19, the S&P 500 hit 1427, the highest point since January 3 and essentially where it ended the previous year.On the foreign front, the surge in Iraq was clearly bearing fruit. The number of US military deaths in Iraq in May was the lowest since the war started. The fatality count of Iraqi civilians was also at or near an all-time low. The Iraq war, Barack Obama's initial campaign theme, was losing its steam as an election issue.On the political front, the Republicans had picked their nominee in all but formality: a sitting US Senator with 26 years of experience in national elective office, a war hero and a political centrist. ...(Read Full Article)