You Don't Always Get What You Wish For - TheStreet

Star (Lite-Brite) 69 (or Ignoramus 103)

LOS ANGELES -- I wish I could exorcise my memory.

I wish I could ignore reality.

I wish I could rewrite history.

I wish I could feel comfortable declaring myself the winner just a few minutes into the game -- and then picking up my ball and going home.

I wish I could convince myself that the way things play out in my head is also always exactly the way they play out in the real world.

And I wish I could believe that nothing I say is wrong as long as I'm making a little money.

Why'd You Put Your Quarter Down on Me?

Your correspondent cannot do any of those. What he can do is present fact.

(a) It is a fact that the core (excluding food and energy)

Consumer Price Index

troughed at a 1.9% year-on-year rate in August 1999. It is also a fact that it is rising at a 2.4% rate now (see the

chart on our data page).

(b) It is a fact that the all-items-less-energy index troughed at a 1.9% rate in August 1999. It is also a fact that it is rising at a 2.3% rate now.

(c) It is a fact that the services index troughed at a 2.4% rate in June 1999. It is also a fact that it is rising at a 3.0% rate now.

(d) It is a fact that the pace of increase in the medical-care index has increased to 4.0% from 3.4% over the past eight months.

It is a fact that this collection of year-on-year CPI increases is more aggravating than anything we've seen since the end of 1996.

And that's a fact that policymakers won't like.

I Know Squirrels Didn't Chew the Wires

Know why it's never a good idea to jump on the

slowdown wagon right away?

Because you're bound to end up looking silly if you do.

You might forecast

"simmering" that never comes to pass. You might end up

believing stocks over macro numbers and get fooled yet again. You might

quote someone who's big on the slowdown idea only to watch the pace of economic growth accelerate for three straight quarters. You might

introduce the notion of a "secular spending slowdown" only to watch the pace of consumption growth accelerate for three straight years.

The moral here, of course, is that the best way to avoid missing a slowdown move is to keep predicting one.

Anticipation is indeed the key to making money. When we can always count on the same types of people to come to the same quickdraw "conclusions" about things like this?

Well, the

Skybar's the limit.