Author Archives: Diane Swonk

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

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,

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 [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

Durable Goods Orders Rebound Partway

Durable goods orders jumped 0.7% in June on strong gains in machinery and transportation equipment. The increase in transportation equipment was heavily concentrated in defense aircraft and parts, which has long lag times, while orders in the vehicle sector actually fell. The more important capital goods orders excluding defense and aircraft, which track actual business [...]

New Home Sales Disappoint

New home sales dropped to a 406,000 rate in June and were revised down for the month of May. The biggest losses were in the South, where builders have complained about labor shortages. A shortfall in the South also has a disproportionate effect on the overall figures

Home Sales Rise – Still not Enough

Existing home sales finally showed some signs of life in June, crossing the five million unit mark for the first time since last October. Sales for May were also revised up a bit. We still have a long way to go, however, before matching the highs hit last summer