However, I am reminded of the words by Stephen T. McClellan, former vice president at Merrill Lynch and the author of the book, "Full of Bull : Unscramble Wall Street Doubletalk to Protect and Build Your Portfolio." In chapter four, he writes, "Wall Street is even less help to you as an individual investor in a bear market than during bullish times. Investment banks are sales organizations, not investment advisory firms. Besides, as we saw in 2007-2008, their record of managing their own risk has proven to be pathetic."
Sure, the economy may be improving based on select criteria, but let's dig a little further. Was there anything that fundamentally changed the income stream of individual Americans that created the lift in consumer spending? Or was the spending limited to a specific class of people? What kind of goods were purchased? Was the spending a proactive, defensive measure against recent inclement weather or was it an emotional reaction for people who have been cooped up in their homes for far longer than usual? And finally, who did the spending...men or women?
Some of the questions may not be answerable without the benefit of an (expensive) survey, but others are certainly decipherable with a little research and data mining. And the analysis that I have performed over the last few months doesn't jive with this budding sentiment.
After all, the Street does have a tendency of jumping the gun.