Can anyone here play this game?

During the famed 1962 debut of the New York Mets, a frustrated Casey Stengel said, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” It was a rhetorical question; the Mets lost 120 of their 162 games that year.

Wall channeling Casey today. It. rises and falls on expectations and so far today a report on retail sales has disappointed the market into another dive.

“Retail sales fell unexpectedly in March, decreasing by 1.1 percent,” the Associated Press reported.

Who could possibly have expected anything but a disaster where retail sales are concerned? Analysts. They had expected an increase. They have not learned the law of diminished expectations: expect nothing, and you’ll never be disappointed. Maybe it’s time for new analysts.

One can almost feel Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke trying to get a “we’re recovering” narrative going. “Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing, for example, in data on home sales, homebuilding, and consumer spending, including sales of new motor vehicles,” he said in a speech today. “A leveling out of economic activity is the first step toward recovery.

In other words, we’re not free-falling, but we’re still falling. And that’s what passes for good news these days.

President Obama, in a speech today, went with the half-empty strategy, an apparent attempt to diminish expectations. “By no means are we out of the woods just yet,” he said, an odd admonishment since nobody with an ounce of common sense is saying we are.

But, he said, there’s a glimmer of hope.

If the economy itself could give a speech, it, too, would cite a Stengelism. “If anyone wants me tell them I’m being embalmed.”

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