Opinions Uncensored

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in December

From housing economist Tom Lawler:Based on publicly-available state and local realtor/MLS reports from across the country released through today, I predict that US existing home sales as estimated by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million...

Government Shutdown: Economic Data Likely to be Delayed

In previous shutdowns, Government data from the BLS, BEA and Census Bureau were delayed. Data from the Federal Reserve was released on time.

As an example, if the government shuts down, I expect New Home sales, durable goods and Q4 GDP to all be delayed next week. Unemployment claims will probably be released on time (and increase the following week due to the shutdown).

The following week, the key report that will probably be delayed is the employment report for January...

Update: For Fun, Stock Market as Barometer of Policy Success

Note: This is a repeat of a June post with updated statistics and graph.There are a number of observers who think the stock market is the key barometer of policy success.  My view is there are many measures of success - and that the economy needs to work well for a majority of...

Merrill: "Are the stars aligning for wage growth?"

A few excerpts from an article by Merrill Lynch economist Joseph Song: Are the stars aligning for wage growth?

One of the puzzles and disappointments of 2017 was the lack of better wage growth. Average hourly earnings started the year growing around 2.5% yoy but ended the year where it started, despite the unemployment rate falling 0.6pp over the course of the year. While we have yet to receive the 4Q reading for ECI, the same story played...

Mortgage Rates close to 4.25%, "highest in more than 9 months"

From Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily: Be Careful With News on Mortgage Rates TodayRates spiked more than normal yesterday and then repeated the feat today. Combine that with weakness in underlying bond markets (which drive mortgage rates) that began on Tuesday afternoon, and the average...

Comments on December Housing Starts

Earlier: Housing Starts decreased to 1.192 Million Annual Rate in December
The housing starts report released this morning showed starts were down 8.2% in December compared to November, and starts were down 6.0% year-over-year compared to December 2016. On a yearly basis, starts in 2017 were up 2.4% to 1.202 million compared to 1.174 million in 2016. Single family starts were up 8.5% in 2017 (compared to 2016) and multi-family starts were down 10.1%. This was the highest level for total housing starts and single family starts since 2007.
Here is a table of housing starts since the bubble peak in 2005...
This first graph shows the month to month comparison between 2016 (blue) and 2017 (red). Starts were down 6.0% in December 2017 compared to December 2016...

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims decrease to 220,000

The DOL reported:In the week ending January 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 220,000, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 261,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since February 24, 1973 when it was 218,000. The 4-week...