“Unexpectedly!”

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 1, 2012

Gosh, you would almost think that the economy is weak, or something:

American manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in July for a second month, reflecting a drop in orders that threatens to undercut a mainstay of the recovery.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index was 49.8 last month, little changed from a three-year low of 49.7 reached in June, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a reading of 50.2, according to the median estimate, just above the 50 mark that separates expansions and contractions.

Manufacturers from China to the euro area joined the U.S. in showing signs of retrenching, indicating Europe’s debt crisis and the looming U.S. government spending cuts and tax increases that constitute the so-called fiscal cliff are taking a toll on customers globally. Federal Reserve policy makers today acknowledged that the economy has slowed and foreshadowed new steps to boost the weakening expansion.

“We’ve seen slower growth in emerging markets, the recession in Europe — all of that is still ever-present,” said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in CharlotteNorth Carolina. “Firms are holding pat right now.”

We will see if the job market looks better; the report points to some hope that it might. But in the event that job numbers turn out to be disappointing once more, we all know that Team Obama will try to dream up more desperate attacks against Mitt Romney to distract from the economy’s poor performance. It’s all they have left, after all.

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