Doom-and-gloomer Nouriel Roubini has been getting a little soft on us, but when it comes to downbeat we can still rely on NYT columnist Paul Krugman. He remains convinced that the "green shoots" of recovery are less than meets the eye. Krugman is especially suspicious of this week's relatively upbeat bank earnings - understandably so because bank earnings can be squishy. "They depend a lot on the amount the bank sets aside to cover expected future losses on its loans," he writes in this morning's NYT. That amount is based on all kinds of assumptions that may or may not pan out.
Things are still getting worse. Industrial production just hit a 10-year low. Housing starts remain incredibly weak. Foreclosures, which dipped as mortgage companies waited for details of the Obama administration's housing plans, are surging again. The most you can say is that there are scattered signs that things are getting worse more slowly -- that the economy isn't plunging quite as fast as it was. And I do mean scattered: the latest edition of the Beige Book, the Fed's periodic survey of business conditions, reports that "five of the twelve Districts noted a moderation in the pace of decline." Whoopee.