We're seeing the beginnings of a truly schizophrenic recovery. On the leading indicator front, things are looking peachy. Businesses are ordering more goods. Interest rates are low. Stocks are up. On the job front, they're still pretty ugly. The four-week average of first-time jobless claims isn't moving and last week, initial claims actually inched up. Behind the unemployment numbers, every day 7,000 people exhaust their jobless benefits, as Congress weighs an emergency benefits extension bill. Part-time workers are at an all-time high. So are reduced hours. Since they started measuring, job openings as a percentage of the workforce are at an all-time low.
The picture is coming into focus. The recovery will look less like a double-dip "W." The leading indicators are too good. It will look more like a limp "L" -- like watching a JV kid throw a bounce-pass with a really deflated basketball.