April 2016

Q1 2016 GDP Blows a Raspberry with a 0.5% Increase

The initial Q1 GDP estimate shows economic growth as a stagnant 0.5%.  Consumer spending was all services consumption.  Private investment just walloped the economy as both nonresidential fixed investment and the changes in private inventories contracted.  Exports also receded.  An ominous bright spot is residential investment grew by almost half a percentage point.  Government spending added to GDP.


Case-Shiller Shows Still Strong Annual Housing Price Gains

The February 2016 S&P Case Shiller home price index shows a seasonally adjusted 5.4% price increase from a year ago for the 20 metropolitan housing markets and a 4.6% yearly price increase in the top 10 housing markets.  Home prices are still climbing over double the rate of inflation, although this is a slower pace than last month.

Corporate World Takeover Through Trade

The new trade deals Trans-Atlantic & Trans-Pacific “Partnerships” complete the corporate world takeover  As I have emphasized since these “partnerships” were first announced, their purpose is to give corporations immunity from the laws in the countries in which they do business.  The principle mechanism of this immunity is the granting of the right to corporations to sue governments and agencies of governments that have laws or regulations that impinge on corporate profits.

Industrial Production Grim With a -2.2% Q1 Decline

The Federal Reserve Industrial Production & Capacity Utilization report declined -0.6% in March.  Worse, this is the second month in a row for a -0.6% decline.  More ominous is a first quarter annualized -2.2% contraction.  Mining by itself had the biggest monthly decline since September 2008.  It is not just energy production that is the culprit dragging down industrial production.

CPI Tame Again, Increases 0.1% for March

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% in March as energy prices increased for the first time since November.  Gasoline by itself increased 2.2% for the month.  Inflation without food or energy prices considered increased 0.1% with shelter and medical costs once again leading the charge.  From a year ago overall CPI has increased 0.9%, which is very low.

The Constitution Party’s Donald Trump Dilemma

The Constitution Party’s National Convention kicks off tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah. There the CP will chose its 2016 nominee for President. More interestingly to many observers of third part dynamics, however, is how the CP will handle the Trump phenomenon.

First some background on this year’s Convention for those who do not follow CP internal politics closely. This year there is significantly less intrigue headed into the convention than there was in the past two Presidential election cycles.

Crude Inventories Fall for 1st Time in 8 Weeks; Refined Products at Another Record

This week's oil data from the US Energy Information Administration showed that our oil inventories fell for the first time in 8 weeks, as our imports of oil also fell to their lowest in 8 weeks, and refiners used more crude than they had in any prior week this year.

Mortgage Delinquencies Drop 12.57% in February, Mean Time in Foreclosure At Record 1064 Days

The Mortgage Monitor for February (pdf) from Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS, formerly LPS) reported that there were 655,311 home mortgages, or 1.30% of all mortgages outstanding, remaining in the foreclosure process at the end of February, which was down from 659,237, which was also 1.30% of all active loans, that were in foreclosure at the end of January, and down from 1.72% of all mortgages that were in foreclosure in February of last year.

JOLTS Shows Job Hiring Strong

The BLS February 2016 JOLTS report shows very high job openings once again.  Job openings have more than recovered from the recession and now job openings are greater than the number of new hires.  Actual hiring has also reached prerecession levels and is at a nine year high.  The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows there are now 1.4 official unemployed per job opening for February 2016.

February Wholesale Sales and Inventories Reported Down, Real Inventories Up

The February report on Wholesale Trade, Sales and Inventories (pdf) from the Census Bureau estimated that the seasonally adjusted value of wholesale sales was at $427.6 billion, down 0.2 percent (+/-0.5%) from the revised January level, and 3.1% percent (+/-1.2%) lower than wholesale sales of February 2015.  The January preliminary estimate was revised down $0.8 billion or 0.2 percent, leaving January's sales 1.9% below the December level.