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

Policy and housing: someone’s gotta give!

by Rebecca Housing demand is being propped up by government subsidies and low mortgage rates, and the level of supply is held back by low prices. Right now, the housing market is a complicated hodgepodge of policy, foreclosures, and very weary potential home-buyers. Home sales are stabilizing; home building is stabilizing; and home prices (might […]

Flow of Funds Accounts: some are deleveraging, while others are not

by Rebecca The Federal Reserve released its quarterly Flow of Funds Accounts, and the message is crystal clear: the private sector is dropping debt burden, while the public sector is growing it. Quarterly private sector debt growth, households + nonfinancial business + finance, has been slowing or negative since the second half of 2007. In […]

Central bankers: slow to acknowledge the start; quick to declare the end

by Rebecca Wilder There is always an agenda when a central banker declares the recession is over – and Bernanke is no different. The following facts remain: US GDP contracted at a 1% annualized pace in the second quarter of 2009 (its fourth consecutive drop), industrial output grew just two consecutive months after declining every […]

A housing bubble illustration

by Rebecca Yesterday’s post on the Australian economy sparked some discussion of its housing market. I agree – Australia’s bubble is large relative to that in the US (interestingly enough) and Canada. The chart illustrates the price to rent ratio in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, the UK, and the US, which measures the trade-off between […]

Australia…escaped a total meltdown, but still far from healthy

by Rebecca Australia is another on the short list of countries that “escaped recession” (another is Poland, which I wrote about earlier). As much of the developed world struggles with job loss and weak economic groundwork, Australia managed to push through the global meltdown with just one quarter of negative growth, -2.8% annualized growth in […]

Weekend charts: the destruction of the "goods-producing" payroll

Rebecca The BLS establishment survey (nonfarm payroll) reports that the accumulated job loss since December 2007 is 5.02% (almost 7 million jobs), blowing the total job loss of the previous “biggie” recessions, the 73-75 and 81-82 recessions, out of the water by 2.5% and 2%, respectively. There’s no question that it has been bad, with […]

The pre-labor report labor reports

Rebecca Let’s investigate these pre-BLS reports. There are many job reports out there, but here are some of the biggies that come out right before the official government BLS employment situation (not a coincidence). Monster Employment Index (not seasonally adjusted) – an index geared toward online recruiting trends. Challenger job cuts (not seasonally adjusted) – […]

G-20 to talk about ‘exit strategies’…

Rebecca Wilder With the developed and developing economies printing money like it’s going out of style, the exit strategy – i.e., taking back the hundred percent increase in the monetary base (at least in the US) – is rumored to be the topic du jour at the G-20 summit later this month. According to Reuters, […]

Not all of Europe is in free-fall

Rebecca Wilder Poland: the bull of eastern and central Europe. While most of central and eastern Europe are either defending exchange rate pegs – this limits the ability to stimulate the economy through monetary policy – and/or running large current account deficits (see chart 2 here), Poland grew a remarkable 1.1% in the second quarter […]

Consumer confidence: fluff or thrill

by Rebecca Wilder Thrill. The Conference Board reported that the August consumer confidence index (CCI) jumped 14% in August to 54.06. In contrast, the August University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index (CSI) fell; but the two generally trend together, and the CSI is subject to revisions reported tomorrow. Confidence can be swayed by current political […]