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Stimulus Status Update: How's the Economy Really Doing?

Dan Newman
October 11, 2012

It's been about a month since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced another round of quantitative easing to spur economic activity and reduce unemployment. Some call it "QE3" after its sisters, "QE2" and "QE1." Others call it "QE Infinity" after Bernanke said the Fed could spend $40 billion a month buying mortgage debt until conditions improve -- potentially a long time.

How have things changed since the announcement of a third QE?


U.S. Unemployment Rate data by YCharts.

It might be a stretch to say that in a month, quantitative easing affected unemployment. It's a long chain of events that starts with a company looking for a higher return on investment, then increasing its investment in its own business, concluding to hire more labor, and actually hiring more employees. And I'm sure any recent job-hunter can attest that a month might be the shortest amount of time it takes to be thoroughly vetted by an employer.

The recent jobs report also had its fair share of skepticism, with General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) CEO Jack Welch tweeting, "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers." Even with many disagreeing with his stance, Welch continues to criticize the way the unemployment report is assembled, stating that "the possibility of subjectivity creeping into the process is pervasive."

Still, the U.S. hasn't seen 7.8% unemployment since January of 2009.

Stocks and gold
Here are the following moves for the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) , Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) , and the popular gold-tracking ETF SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT: GLD  ) for one month after QE1, QE2, and now QE3:



S&P 500 Change

Dow Change

Gold ETF change