Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Live-blogging the End of the Republic

Live-blogging the End of the Republic The title of this piece is increasingly my feeling about the times we are living in. Almost everywhere it has been implemented, the Madisonian system has ultimately failed, ending in presidential autocracy. All of the tools are now in place for the US to fail as well. If Trump […]

A few thoughts while you are digesting Thanksgiving dinner

A few thoughts while you are digesting Thanksgiving dinner There was a bunch of data released Wednesday, while yours truly was on the road along with everybody else. So here are a couple of thoughts for you as you sit there with your loosened belt figuring out what leftovers you’re going to be eating for […]

Housing rebound continues; price appreciation stabilizes

Housing rebound continues; price appreciation stabilizes Just a quick note, as I am traveling today.New home sales declined slightly in October from September, but remain at the high end of this expansion. The renewed uptrend in housing sales, due to lower mortgage rates, is clearly intact: Meanwhile house prices, as measured by the Case Shiller […]

Rebound in existing home sales continues, but beware the housing “choke collar”

Rebound in existing home sales continues, but beware the housing “choke collar” Although they account for about 90% of the entire housing market, existing home sales are the least consequential to the economy. That’s because building new homes entails a bunch of economic activity, from architects, builders, building trades contractors, landscapers in the building process, […]

Initial claims weaker, but still not at cautionary levels

Initial claims weaker, but still not at cautionary levels I’ve been monitoring initial jobless claims closely for the past several months, to see if there are any signs of a slowdown turning into something worse. Simply put, no recession is going to begin unless and until layoffs increase, and the lack of any such increase […]

A yellow flag from temporary hiring

A yellow flag from temporary hiring In the conclusion of my latest Weekly Indicators post, I wrote that, except for temporary staffing, I didn’t see any signs of weakness spreading out beyond manufacturing and import/export. Manufacturing, as measured by industrial production, has been in a shallow recession all year. By contrast, the consumer – 70% […]

Industrial production tanks on GM strikes; Real retail sales decline slightly

Industrial production tanks on GM strikes; Real retail sales decline slightly First, let me briefly address industrial production, which fell -0.8% in October. On its face this is an awful number. But take it with a big grain of salt: mainly it reflected the GM  strike. Here’s the applicable note from the Federal Reserve: Manufacturing output […]

Initial claims continue to show slowdown, but no imminent recession

Initial claims continue to show slowdown, but no imminent recession I’ve been monitoring initial jobless claims closely for the past several months, to see if there are any signs of a slowdown turning into something worse. Simply put, no recession is going to begin unless and until layoffs increase. My two thresholds are: 1. If […]

Real average and aggregate wages declined in October

Real average and aggregate wages declined in October October’s consumer inflation reading came in at a surprisingly high +0.4%, which as shown in red in the graph below, was one of the 3 highest in the past two years. Meanwhile average hourly earnings increased less than +0.2% – the second lowest reading in the past […]

How economists blew the analysis of the manufacturing jobs shock

How economists blew the analysis of the manufacturing jobs shock I came across this article yesterday, posted by – to his credit – Brad DeLong, whose argument it eviscerates. Entitled “The Epic MIstake about Manufacturing That’s Cost Americans Millions of Jobs,” it deserves widespread attention. So I am summarizing it here. But by all means go and […]