You probably already know that poverty rose in the U.S. in 2001 and 2002, the first two years of George W. Bush's presidence.
But hey, we've had good economic numbers recently -- haven't we? Well, as we learn from Sadly, No! (quoting Reuters and CNN),
Orders for durable goods, items intended to last three years or more, decreased 0.9 percent in August, the Commerce Department said. It was the first decline since April and bucked expectations on Wall Street for a 0.6 percent rise.
and even yesterday's decline in initial unemployment claims wasn't all that impressive:
"About 50 percent of the decline is a result of the power outages from Hurricane Isabel that forced the closure of state offices in such areas as North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia," said a Labor Department spokesman.
But the stock market's going great guns, right? Yes, but Floyd Norris adds an interesting caveat in today's New York Times:
As this bull market nears its first birthday, its defining characteristic is that bad stocks are great.
A money manager with the foresight a year ago to buy only companies of dubious financial standing would now be a star....
Within the Standard & Poor's 500, notes Steve Galbraith of Morgan Stanley, companies that report the cost of options as an expense have underperformed. He reports that companies with "ludicrous pension assumptions," high leverage and low profitability have done quite well. Low-price stocks have doubled, while other shares trail behind.
...Perhaps the market's message is not that the economy is coming back, but only that the speculators have done so.
Norris compares the current moment to 1987:
...There is a whiff of 1987 in more than the buoyant sentiment numbers. Then, as now, there was international economic discord. The dollar was weak and the Treasury secretary was complaining about foreign economic policies that he saw as harmful to the world economy. (The target then was Germany; now it is China.) France and Germany are flouting European rules on budget deficits. The trade talks in Cancun, Mexico, broke down with both rich and poor countries complaining of unfair treatment.
And what came not long after 1987?
The first Bush recession.