Nobody Should Be Surprised by a Drop in Retail Sales

South Coast Plaza, once the mightiest mall west of the Mississippi, has been laid low by the coronavirus lockdown.Kevin Drum

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I confess that I just don’t get this:

U.S. stocks sank at the open Wednesday, dragged down by dismal earnings and retail data that offered new snapshots into the pandemic’s grip on the American economy. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 660 points, or 2.7 percent, shortly before noon and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composite also fell sharply. The sell-off followed a blistering report on March retail sales, which plunged 8.7 percent for the worst monthly decline ever.

Of course the March retail sales report was “blistering.” There can’t be a single human being in the country who didn’t expect that. And yet, merely putting an official number on it causes the stock market to plummet.

I suppose we ought to brace for the stock market to be shocked once again next month, when investors pretend not to understand that lockdowns affected only half of March but all of April. This means that April retail sales will be down even more and the market can panic once again. Yeesh.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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