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Warren G. Harding would be proud

Floyd Norris thinks the economy might have returned to "normalcy," and he has the charts to prove it. These final paragraphs, in fact, are the most optimistic sentences I've seen since 2008:

In February, according to S.& P., 135 companies raised dividends, the largest total in nearly two years. Just 11 percent of the announced changes were negative — eliminations or reductions of payouts. Last March, during the height of the panic, the figure was 82 percent, the highest recorded by S.& P. since it began tallying the figures in 1955.

Some of those increases reflect the fact that companies overreacted when they feared a cutoff of credit and a new depression. But those very overreactions may have set the stage for a recovery that will turn out to be stronger and faster than those after the two previous downturns.

On the other hand, here's David Leonhardt with the pessimistic view.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 8, 2010; 10:32 AM ET
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Here's some devastatingly brilliant economic punditry: nobody knows nothing, because we've never been here before, and we'll see what happens as time goes on.

Now I'll kick back and wait on Big Media to blow my doors off with offers to be on TV!!

Posted by: zeppelin003 | March 8, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Well that is the problem in a nutshell. We have a chattering class that identifies "optimism" by "better returns on capital". And a Federal Reserve that has traditionally seen higher levels of employment and Real Wage as menaces and so actually targeting policy to NARU. Because God forbid the working class get a bigger slice of the pie and so reduce the yield on your portfolio of Treasuries.

What is the most tried and true method for enabling increases in dividends? Drive up labor productivity, meaning getting more work out of less workers. In an era of 10% unemployment I am expected to see a dividend increase as GOOD NEWS?

None of this is new, business reporters from time immemorial have identified 'prosperity' with 'better returns on capital', but it would be nice to have the political commentariot occasionally weigh in on the take aways from labor required.

Posted by: BruceWebb | March 8, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

It'll be interesting to see the media over the next couple of months try to spin the scenario that everything's going great now and that Obama's and the Democrats policies get the credit. All done to help the Democrats avoid a 1994 type debacle during this fall's elections. Trouble is unemployment will still be very high and that's what most people use to determine their economic well being.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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