Author Archives: Diane Swonk

New Home Sales Flatline

New home sales rose an almost imperceptible 0.2% in September, after being revised down sharply for the month of August. While new home sales are a notoriously volatile data series, estimated from a very small sample and subject to large revisions, sales have continued to trend modestly higher

Inflation Still Too Low

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) edged up 0.1% in September, after falling slightly the month prior. Increases in food prices tempered the drag from plummeting energy prices. This raises issues for consumers at the grocery store, as they will likely divert some of the money they are saving at the pump to deal with higher [...]

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 [...]