WSJ; Overheard On The Street: Chattering Nabobs Say Nay To Jump Fiscal Cliff

Remember the end of 2012, when there was lots of talk about how the "fiscal cliff" standoff was holding businesses back? It died down pretty quickly after December's jobs report showed companies didn't halt hiring despite Washington's shenanigans.

But maybe there was something to the chatter after all.

Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people filing initial claims for unemployment fell by 5,000 to 330,000 in the week ended Saturday -- the lowest level in five years -- after dropping 40,000 the prior week.

Economists were quick to caution people not to read too much into the recent decline, since the adjustments meant to smooth out seasonal swings in the claims figures are usually prone to problems at the start of the year.

But it just might be the case that the deal struck in Congress to avert the fiscal cliff cleared any residual caution on the part of companies. If claims don't show a big reversal
over the next couple of weeks, it will be a very good sign for the economy this year.