Global Economy: Five Themes of the Week


Europeans like myself traditionally spend the third week of August vacationing at the beach. Even here in Chicago, one week ahead of the reopening of schools, the atmosphere has been decidedly relaxed. For those of us on the economic desk, though, the past few days were not without interesting developments:

•    Monetary policy became much more interesting in the United Kingdom, Read More »

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Existing Home Sales Rose Last Month


I am traveling but did a quick read on existing home sales  figures released this morning by the National Association of Realtors.

  • The increase in existing sales in July is welcome but also suspect, given the downward revision to June.
  • We are still playing catch-up Read More »
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Housing Starts Increase


Housing starts moved back above the one-million-unit mark again in July, and were revised up for the month of June. This is a highly volatile and unreliable series, but we will take what we can get when it comes to housing; the gains are also corroborated by the survey of home builder confidence, Read More »

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CPI Treads Water in July


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) edged up 0.1% in July from June, with widespread declines in energy prices offsetting a larger-than-expected uptick in food prices. Grocers and restaurants raised prices, attempting to tap into the discretionary spending that lower prices at the pump will hopefully bring. So far, however, increases in food prices have proven short-lived, Read More »

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Autos Drive Gains in IP


Industrial production rose 0.4% in July, supported by outsize gains in vehicle production.  Many plants were running in July when retooling typically occurs to either catch up on losses from interruptions during the winter months or ramp up for an expanded number of new model introductions. Unusually harsh winter weather also accelerated the pace at which cars were scrapped Read More »

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Eurozone Growth Stalls in 2nd Quarter


The combined GDP for countries in the Eurozone flattened out during the second quarter. At the same time, inflation continued to slow. Growth in the two “pillars” of the euro currency area, Germany and France, declined.

Today’s data show a much weaker core but offer some signs of relief Read More »

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Retail Sales Flatline in July


Retail sales disappointed again in July, flatlining after rising only 0.2% in June. Declines were in everything from big-ticket durable goods such as vehicles (some of that could be because of the shift from more expensive trucks into less expensive cars), furniture and appliances to the big-box retailers. Even the large discount chains were hit. Those losses were just offset by moderate gains in apparel store sales, Read More »

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Five Themes of the Week


  • Central banks took the center stage, with policy setting meetings taking place at the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England (BoE) and the Bank of Japan (BoJ). In each case, policy makers stayed the course, despite the mounting pressure to act: In the case of the BoE, toward a tightening of monetary conditions Read More »
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Employment Data Affirm Fed Strategy of Gradualism


Payroll employment rose a less-than-expected 209,000 in the month of July, with modest upward revisions for a net 15,000 additional jobs in the previous two months. This is the sixth month that we have seen job gains exceed the 200,000 threshold, but just barely. Indeed, private sector job creation fell slightly below the 200,000 level, with the difference being made up Read More »

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Growth Rebounds


Real GDP growth rose a more-than-expected 4% in the second quarter, after falling a less-than-previously reported 2.1% in the first quarter. The forecast was for a 3% rebound in growth. Benchmark revisions, which include more complete data, helped to reduce the drop in the first quarter. Almost all of the “unexpected rise” in growth in the second quarter came in a sharp increase in inventory accumulation. The rise in inventories alone accounted for nearly 1.7% of the in 4% increase economic activity. Some of this reflects a catch-up Read More »

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