Volatility remained in vogue last week as equity markets endured one of the most down-and-up weeks on record. With the acute phase of the financial crisis/credit crunch now largely in the rear view mirror, financial markets last week abruptly refocused on the ramifications of the crisis on corporate earnings and the economy.

Investors generally didn’t like what they saw in last week’s batch of economic data, as they tried to discern the breadth and depth of the recession. The big shocker (for financial market participants, at least) came with the release of the September retail sales data, which showed a sharp 1.2% decline in spending between August and September. This data marked the third consecutive monthly decline in retail sales, the first time since the 1990-91 recession that retail sales have declined in three consecutive months.

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