Author Archives: Diane Swonk

Primer for October 29 FOMC Meeting

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is slated to wrap up the large-scale asset purchase program (aka “QE3”) on October 29 with as little fanfare as possible. Federal Reserve officials believe they have prepared financial markets for this change and, despite recent market volatility, can still end the current purchase program quietly. The statement at [...]

Home Sales Edge Higher

Existing home sales edged higher in September after losing ground in August. We are still trying to regain ground lost, however, in the wake of last year’s “taper tantrum” over Federal Reserve talk of ending its asset purchasing program; that pulled a lot of sales into the third quarter of 2013. Hence, sales remain below the [...]

Housing Starts Recross Million Mark

Housing starts moved back above the one million unit threshold again in September, after being revised up slightly for August. Multifamily starts accounted for nearly the entire comeback after starts cratered in August.

Industrial Production Surges

Industrial production surged 1.0% in September, more than double market expectations, despite a small downward revision to August. Moreover, gains were fairly broad-based with the exception of the auto industry, which took a breather but is expected to pick up again later in the year. Electronics also took a hit,

Retail Sales Disappoint

Total retail sales slipped 0.3% in September after surging in August. A drop in vehicle sales from a post-recession high was one reason for the weakness. Core retail sales, which exclude the volatile vehicle and gasoline components, also dipped slightly during the month. That was despite a sharp drop in prices at the pump and [...]

Job Openings at 13-Year High

Job openings hit a 13-year high in August, while hiring slowed and the number of people quitting a job stabilized. This suggests one of several scenarios: 1) the workers applying for jobs are woefully under qualified; 2) new applicants cannot pass their drug tests; 3) employers are deliberately not filling open positions to increase flexibility [...]

Young Workers Looking for Work as Older Workers Are Hired

Payroll employment jumped 248,000 in September. The three-month moving average suggests payroll gains of 220,000 per month, which is in line with gains over the last year. Today’s data validate our view that the initial weak report for August was an anomaly.

Construction Spending Disappoints

Construction spending dropped 0.8% in August after being revised down for the month of July. Losses were distributed between both the private and public sectors. Even private residential construction took a hit, with losses in remodeling offsetting gains in single and multifamily construction. Multifamily construction remains the primary driver in the housing market with increases [...]

Payroll Forecast: Upside Risk to September Employment Numbers

We are looking for nonfarm payrolls to increase by 235,000 for September after adding only 142,000 in August. We estimate private sector employment will expand by 225,000. Risks to our forecast are largely to the upside, given that unemployment claims have been trending lower and employment indicators for the manufacturing and service sectors are on [...]

Durable Goods Better than Headline Suggests

Durable goods orders dropped at an 18.2% pace in August, reversing part but not all of the outsize gains we saw in July. A sharp reversal of the surge in aircraft orders that Boeing saw in the month of July was the reason for the decline. Motor vehicle orders were also down in August