And of course, the market shrugs off and even rallies on this wonderful news. Economists were expecting a reading of 45, but it came in at a much worse level of 38. Last month’s downward-revised reading was 44.7. Why is it that when the numbers get revised, they’re always worse than the original reading? Could it be that there’s a concerted effort to skew numbers to be more positive than they actually are? No, that would be crazy.

Another positive note:

The separate Present Situation index, which measures how respondents feel about business conditions and employment prospects, fell to 29.4 in December from 42.3 in November. It is now close to levels last seen after the 1990-1991 recession.