Economy: Hitting bottom is no fun

The headlong plummet may be over, but how long do we stay down here, buried by rubble?

Published July 23, 2009 1:43PM (EDT)

The Thursday morning economic indicator update has jobless claims bouncing back up after two weeks that saw consecutive big drops. The unwelcome rebound had been universally predicted by economists, so the deterioration doesn't quite count as big news -- all we can really say at the moment is that the overall trendline still shows a slight deceleration of the rate at which the economy is shedding jobs.

Ford Motor Co. reported its first profitable quarter in more than a year, but accomplished the positive numbers primarily through debt-restructuring wizardry. The company continues to lose money making cars.

And UPS CEO Scott Davis tells it like it is during an earnings call announcing a 49 percent decline in profits. (Via Calculated Risk)

The results we announced today are a clear indication of the tough economic environment. As you're aware, the rates of decline of some key economic indicators, like GDP and industrial production, have slowed. Other indicators, like manufacturing and service sector indices, are exhibiting signs of improvement. Most forecasters are saying that we may be at the bottom. Whether or not we're at the bottom is not the main issue; what is important is how long we remain here and what type of recovery we will have. Remember, all these indicators are still well into negative territory, illustrating the challenges that lie ahead.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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