Author Archives: Diane Swonk

Orders Rebound: Investment Coming Back

Durable goods orders rebounded at a stronger than expected 2.6% pace in March. Gains were supported by an outsized increase in nondefense aircraft orders, which have long lags to completion and can be extremely volatile. That said, the details of the report suggest that business investment may finally be making a comeback after lackluster performance [...]

New Home Sales Tumble

New home sales dropped unexpectedly to a 384,000-unit pace in March from a 449,000-unit pace in February. Sales plunged the most in the Midwest and South,

What’s Your Home Worth?

Two housing price measures were released today: the FHFA index on purchase prices for February and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) calculation for median existing home prices in March. Both indices showed that home prices continued to rise in the first quarter, and regain ground lost to the Great Recession.

Home Sales Remain Weak

Existing home sales were almost unchanged between March and February, which should come as no surprise to those who have been watching the lackluster demand for mortgages since the start of the year. Sales are off almost 15% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the high they hit last July when everyone was scrambling to [...]

Industrial Production is Back

Industrial production jumped 0.7% in March, after being revised up sharply for the month of February. Upward revisions were substantial and attributed to much stronger gains in big-ticket durable goods (including business equipment) and mining. Moreover, gains in March were broad-based in both consumer and business categories

Housing Starts Rebound Slowly

Housing starts rose to a 946,000-unit pace in March, after being revised up slightly for the month of February. With revisions, starts are running close to expectations although they should be stronger given the lack of inventories on the market. That said, it was encouraging to see the gain in starts concentrated in the single-family [...]

CPI Rebounds from Winter Lull

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose  0.2% in March from February, well in-line with expectations and was up 1.5% from a year ago, a little hotter than we saw just a month ago. The portions of the country that escaped the polar vortex suffered a drought, which is pushing up feed prices. In response, prices [...]

Consumer Pulse Still Beating

Retail sales rose 1.1% in March, following upward revisions to February, as consumers came out of hibernation and began to spend again. Vehicle sales were particularly robust, as consumers returned to dealer showrooms and tapped the pent-up demand built during the worst months of winter. We also saw strong gains in building materials and garden [...]

Private Sector Recovers Job Numbers, not Quality

Payroll employment jumped 192,000 in March and was revised up by 37,000 for the previous two months; that puts the total number about where we expected it. Private sector employment crossed its previous peak. The quality of jobs generated, however, is not comparable in any way to those we lost. The overwhelming majority of job [...]

U.S. Trade Deteriorates

The trade deficit widened more than expected in February, as imports rose and exports fell. Imports of vehicles were particularly strong; that could be a problem for domestic vehicle producers going forward even as sales come back, which they did strongly in March. Japanese and Korean producers, in particular, now have unusually large pricing advantages [...]