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Author: Brian Lego

Job Market Recovery Gaining Some Momentum

Job Market Recovery Gaining Some Momentum

Today’s employment report showed payrolls increased by 290,000 in April. Moreover, March’s preliminary figure was revised upward and now shows a gain of 230K (vs. 162K originally). Hiring of temporary Census workers might have skewed the topline number upward, but growth was solid across an array of industries, with even the beleaguered construction sector adding jobs for the second consecutive month—marking the sector’s first back-to-back gains since early 2007. In addition, Read more [...]
Good Enough for Show, but not First Place

Good Enough for Show, but not First Place

Today’s first take on real GDP showed that the U.S. economy expanded 3.2% on an annualized basis during the first three months of 2010. Many of the underlying details suggest that the economy remains on a path to recovery; however, even though the data have reduced the probability of a double-dip recession to a very small number (practically zero, in our opinion), the chances of a V-shaped recovery also appear to be slim. The report contained some positive bits of news to be sure, such Read more [...]
Housing Market’s Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

Housing Market’s Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

The long-awaited jump in home sales appears to have materialized at long last, for now anyway. After sales collapsed in late 2009 after the expiration of the new homebuyer tax credit, analysts have been waiting to see some kind of pop in the housing market data following the government’s decision to extend the credit through the end of this month. It appears March might have been the month. According to data from the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau, existing home sales Read more [...]
Finally, some good news on consumers

Finally, some good news on consumers

While we have no shortage of economic issues to remain concerned about, e.g. foreclosures, debt deleveraging and persistent unemployment just to name a few, solid retail sales data for March at least provide a boost to optimism and may highlight the fact that the economic recovery might indeed be entering that critical “self-sustaining” phase. According to the release, retail sales jumped 7.6 percent from the depression-esque levels of last March and core retail sales suggest a 3.5 percent Read more [...]
The buying spree is over…now what?

The buying spree is over…now what?

With the recent softness in the housing market, the end of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase program has fueled concerns that mortgage rates could rise sharply and choke off prospects of a housing market recovery. The program only ended last week and rates climbed to their highest point since August 2009. Still, it is a little too early to connect the dots between these two events and assume mortgage rates are headed to 10 percent by the end of the year. Read more [...]
The Wait Continues

The Wait Continues

While there were enough positive things contained in today’s employment report that allow us to remain hopeful about the recovery’s lasting power, some troubling aspects remain. Specifically, the length of time in which workers have been unemployed is a serious concern. During March, unemployment spells were reported to last an average of 31 weeks (20 weeks for the median) and more than 44 percent of those unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, which is a new record Read more [...]
Time to Start Worrying?

Time to Start Worrying?

Recent data releases do not portray a particularly healthy housing market, and this week’s print on February new home sales raises the level of concern even higher. New home sales slid for the fourth month in a row, falling to a new record low of 308,000; however, that was only one of several negatives to be found in this report. Inventories are growing again as the months’ supply of new homes climbed to 9.2 months while homes are now spending a median length of 14.4 months on the market Read more [...]
A Thing of the Past?

A Thing of the Past?

The loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years has reinforced the widely accepted notion that the U.S. really doesn’t make much of anything anymore. Even though the sector faces significant challenges in competing internationally for innovation and securing an educated workforce, the conventional wisdom about the death of U.S. manufacturing is wrong as this article shows. In fact, manufacturing has been one of the bright spots of an otherwise tepid economic recovery. Read more [...]
The Check Is in the Mail

The Check Is in the Mail

According to data released yesterday by the Federal Reserve, total U.S. household debt fell 1.7 percent during 2009. While this rate of decline might not sound like much, this marked the only time since data collection started back in 1945 that a calendar year decline actually occurred—and there have been quite a few nasty recessions over that time period. Some of the drop in debt reflected consumers paying down credit cards, but the largest contribution (~80%) came from households defaulting Read more [...]
A Turn for the Worse for Housing?

A Turn for the Worse for Housing?

We generally advocate not overanalyzing one-month fluctuations in economic data too much, given the inherent possibility of weird seasonal adjustments, bad weather, etc. Unfortunately, while we don’t suggest hitting the panic button just yet, lousy readings on new and existing home sales suggest it might be time to at least be concerned about the housing market’s future recovery prospects. New home sales slid to a new all-time low of 309,000 (seasonally adjusted annual rate) during January—also Read more [...]