Author Archives: Diane Swonk

Limited Rebound in Durable Goods Orders

Durable goods orders rose a much stronger-than-expected 4% in March, driven by strong gains in volatile aircraft orders. Orders for both private and defense aircraft surged over the month. Overall, durable goods orders, however, remain essentially flat

Consumers Emerge from Hibernation

Retail sales jumped 0.9% in March, coming in only slightly below the consensus. Gains were driven by big-ticket spending on vehicles and furniture. Pent-up demand and damages created by unusually harsh winter storms helped to spur the rebound in spending. Building materials and garden stores reported higher sales as the temperatures rose and people emerged [...]

Disappointing March Employment Data

Payroll employment rose a disappointing 126,000 in March and was revised down fairly significantly for the previous two months. That suggests that the economy was actually weaker and less resilient at the start of the year than the data initially indicated.

Trade Improves for the Wrong Reasons

The trade deficit narrowed much more than expected in the month of February as imports plummeted more rapidly than exports. Much of that movement can be attributed to labor disagreements between management and longshore workers. Work stoppages at West Coast ports, where a large share of imports are unloaded and shipped to end users (largely [...]

A Primer on March Employment Data

We expect to see payroll employment rise by 235,000 in March, a bit of a moderation compared to the pace we saw at the start of the year. Hiring of teachers and other public sector workers is expected to add to those gains, but not dramatically. The private sector is expected to account for 228,000 [...]

March Moderation

Construction spending disappointed again in February, falling 0.1% from a downward revision to January data. Everything from the unusually snowy winter, which delayed some major projects, to a crimp in investment in public infrastructure accounted for the weakness. Indeed, losses were concentrated in the public sector.

Saving Rate Rises

Real personal disposable income growth increased at a more muted 0.2% pace in February, on the heels of higher prices at the pump. Revisions to January were to the upside, but only slightly. Overall income growth remained solid during the first two months of the year, in response to solid employment growth and a pickup [...]

Investment Remains Dismal

Durable goods orders fell 1.4% in February, after being revised down in January. Losses were driven by a correction in aircraft orders, but still more widespread than hoped. Only 3 of eleven categories posted increases: primary metals, communications equipment and appliances

New Home Sales Buck Trend

New home sales sprang back in February, with a surge in spending on less expensive first-time buyer homes. The bulk of the increases occurred in the $200,000 to $299,000 and the $150,000 to $199,000 range. This marks a sharp shift down in price from earlier in the cycle and suggests builders are finally building less [...]

Inflation Remains Tepid

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2% in February, with a slight uptick in prices at the pump and accelerating rents offsetting a drop in prices elsewhere in the economy. Indeed, overall inflation measures were essentially flat when compared with a year ago. The core (non-food and non-energy) measure of the CPI rose 1.7% from [...]