business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Economists are turning optimistic on the U.S. economy. They now think it will skirt a recession, the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates and inflation will continue to ease.

"In the latest quarterly survey by the Wall Street Journal, business and academic economists lowered the probability of a recession within the next year, from 54% on average in July to a more optimistic 48%. That is the first time they have put the probability below 50% since the middle of last year … Fueling the optimism are three key factors: inflation continuing to decline, a Federal Reserve that is done raising interest rates, and a robust labor market and economic growth that have outperformed expectations."

The Journal writes that "the median probability was 50%, in effect a coin flip."

The survey was of 65 economists.  If you or I flipped a coin, there would be only two possible results - heads or tails.  But I have this image of 65 economists all simultaneously flipping coins and somehow coming up with innumerable results that none of us every would get.

But I hope the "informed" optimism is well-founded.  The sense has been for some time that if we have a recession it would be short and shallow.  But we also know one thing for sure - not having a recession is no guarantee of avoiding a recessionary mindset.

•  From the New York Times:

"Thirty-three years after the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of Red Dye No. 3 in red lipstick and other cosmetics by linking it to cancer, California has become the first state to ban the chemical in food.

"Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed a law this month that outlawed the red dye and three other chemicals. Red No. 3 is used in Halloween treats and other foods, including private-label candy, cookies and frostings sold at national chains such as Walmart and Target.

"The California law increases public pressure on the F.D.A. to examine similar questions surrounding artificial colors and other ingredients. But the agency itself is in a state of flux after the infant formula scandal raised concerns about food oversight. Dr. Robert Califf, the F.D.A. commissioner, has begun a reorganization of its beleaguered food division, marked by the departure of two top officials and the appointment of a deputy commissioner with significant experience in food safety."