Richard Posner evaluates:
There are some indications of incipient recovery, including upticks in manufacturing and sales of durable products and housing starts. But as long as unemployment (and underemployment) is rising and housing prices (a major store of value) and personal consumption expenditures are depressed, the economic prospects are uncertain. There have been too many false dawns and overoptimistic predictions, including by government officials.
An example is the emphasis on unemployment as a "lagging indicator" of depressed economic conditions. It is true that unemployment often continues increasing after an economic recovery begins. The standard explanation is that firms prefer not to incur the cost of hiring or rehiring workers until they are sure that demand for goods and services is increasing. An alternative explanation is tacit collusion: firms may hesitate to expand output as demand rises, hoping their competitors will follow suit, since the more slowly supply rises in response to rising demand, the faster prices and profits will increase. But it is only after a depression is over that one can recognize an increase in unemployment as a lagging indicator. It would have been ridiculous to observe the steep decline in employment in 1930 and be reassured that, since unemployment is a lagging indicator, the depression was over. It had just begun.