At first glance, the January retail sales numbers weren’t bad.
But even the mainstream media couldn’t help but find a dark cloud.
The more you dig into the numbers, the unhappier the story becomes.
The headline retail sales number for January rebounded a bit from December’s dismal reading.
The media reported that the 0.2% gain beat economists’ expectations, but wasn’t that great.
In fact, Justin Lahart, writing in the Wall Street Journal’s widely read Heard on the Street column was downright gloomy.
“Scratch its surface and it is quickly apparent that the January retail sales report wasn’t as good as it appeared at first glance. Dig a little deeper and it actually looks awful.”
Making matters worse, the Census Bureau revised December’s number, which was already horrible, sharply lower.
The stock market rallied sharply on the heels of the news, because of course, everybody knows that the weaker the economy, the more likely it is that the Fed will ease monetary policy.
And easy money is bullish. Until it isn’t.