The stock market has as much to do with the real economy as the weather has to do with geology.
What passes for business reporting in the United States is too often a series of breathless reports about the stock market. When the Dow rises precipitously, as it did today (Wednesday), the business press predicts an end to the Great Recession. When the stock market plummets, as it did last week, the Great Recession is said to be worsening.
Pay no attention. The stock market has as much to do with the real economy as the weather has to do with geology. Day by day there’s no relationship at all. Over time, weather and geology interact but the results aren’t evident for many years. The biggest impact of the weather is on peoples’ moods, as are the daily ups and downs of the market.
The real economy is jobs and paychecks, what people buy and what they sell. And the real economy — even viewed from a worldwide perspective — is as precarious as ever, perhaps more so.
Today’s rally was triggered by news that one of China’s official measures of its growth — its Purchasing Managers Index — rose. The index had been in decline for three straight months.
Why should an obscure measurement on the other side of the world cause stock markets in New York, London, and Frankfurt to rally? Because China is so large and its needs seemingly limitless that its growth has been about the only reliable source of global demand.