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Watch the "Boot Index" for Market Direction

 My favorite coincident economic indicator, the “Boot Index,” is showing that we may be entering a very modest economic recovery. That is the price at which you can buy Asolo’s top line mountaineering boot at the REI member sales. I bought this hiker’s dream for $5 last March (click here to see report) , and yesterday the price had climbed back up to $27. Of course, this is not the full retail price it should be selling for of $280, with tax. Similarly, we should be equally cautious about Friday’s report of Q2 GPD growth of minus 1%, and the downward revision of Q1 from minus 5.5% to minus 6.4%. To say this is an improvement is like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other, then booking a profit on the transaction. The hard truth is that consumer spending, business investment, housing, and inventories are still in terrible shape. Consumers are broke and getting broker, a big problem when they account for 71% of GDP. Only massive federal government spending is supporting the economy, and what happens when that runs out? The next $2 trillion in stimulus is going to be a lot more expensive than the first. Sorry, but I remain a skeptic. I’d rather go hiking in the Sierras than put money in the market here.