Global Trader: Did You Miss The Biggest Economic News In The World?

The market has gotten so wound up in avoiding surprises that the most shocking headline of the season got lost in the crowd: at least on paper, the U.S. economy is hotter than China.

Yes, real GDP is up 4.9% from last year, once you factor in inflation. That’s the rate at which Beijing says the Chinese economy is expanding, but that number doesn’t account for what looks like minimal price pressure on their people. Add it all up and we seem to have a slight edge.

Admittedly, it doesn’t feel so great. Inflation is still eating a lot of families alive and the only way others can keep up is to run as fast as they can . . . just to stand still. If you aren’t up 3.6% in the past year, you’ve lost real purchasing power.

Bad enough. But if your stocks haven’t expanded their earnings a full 8.5% over the trailing 12 months, they’ve actually shrunk as a fraction of the overall economy. They’re literally running as fast as they can and falling behind.

The question, of course, is where all this heat is coming from. A lot of Americans can’t see it. Disposable income actually went down last quarter as people paid a lot more on appliances, cars, computers and other durable goods. If you produce that stuff, you’re in the sweet spot. No wonder companies like Whirlpool (WHR) and General Motors (GM) had such a great quarter.

But the lion’s share of the heat is still radiating from government spending and exports. The government already accounts for 24% of the economy but that’s probably going down as the chill around budget cuts spreads. We’ll see what happens in Congress over the next few weeks.

The government already spends almost as much as every corporation in the country put together. That side of the economy is booming. After all, when you print the dollars, inflation is your friend.

Corporations don’t have that luxury. On our side of the economy, it’s a lot harder. But I think hard work and innovation still pay off.

If not, you’ve given up on America. And I haven’t.