Just how well has the poster child for counter-cyclical retailing done this last year? The Journal has the numbers in the runup to its IPO:

For the quarter ended May 1, its profit surged to $83 million from $5.9 million a year earlier. While most retailers are retrenching, Dollar General is planning to raise its store count by 450 this year from 8,362 locations at the end of 2008. The Goodlettsville, Tenn., company's gross margins rose to 30.8% from 28.8%.

It occurs to me that the price of Dollar General shares will be a pretty good proxy for how long investors expect the recession/stagnation to last. After all, I can't imagine Dollar General seeing profit-growth like this during a robust recovery. Expanding by another 450 stores seems like a bet (possibly shrewd) on years of bad times to come...

--Noam Scheiber