New Home Sales Plunged 13.4%, Previous Months Revised Down

July 2013 New Residential Single Family Home Sales plunged -13.4% to 394,000 in annualized sales and April through June were significantly revised lower.  New Single Family Housing inventory is now a 5.2 month supply.  New single family home sales are now 6.8% above July 2012 levels, but this figure is well within the ±18.6% margin of error.

A Brief Blurb on the July FOMC Meeting Minutes

Investors and the press love to read the tea leaves of the FOMC meeting minutes.  Most in the press believe July 31st Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting minutes confirm quantitative easing, the $85 billion a month in mortgage backed securities and asset purchases, will be reduced starting in September.  We don't know that answer but we can guess.   From the minutes:

The Fed's Economic Projections and Bernanke Conference

The Federal Reserve FOMC released their updated economic projections and frankly they are weird.  GDP estimates were lowered yet the official unemployment rate projections were also lowered.  The rule of economic law is lower economic growth means less jobs and hires so how one can have subdued GDP with better unemployment figures is none too clear.

QE3 Addicts Scour FOMC Meeting Minutes Looking for Their Fix

Quantitative easing is the buying of various securities to increase the money supply. In a round about way, this increases liquidity at banks, stuffs them with capital, which theoretically banks are then supposed to turn around and increase lending to regular people.

The amount of text written on FOMC meeting minutes is astounding. This is a conversation from a meeting almost a month old where no action was taken. In a game of Where's Waldo, people pour over the words, hunting for even a trace of more quantitative easing. This time they found it and pounced.

Here is the latest FOMC meeting minutes phrase that has quantitative easing addicts salivating and foaming at the mouth.

Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery.

The problem, with this is taking comments out of context from meeting minutes. Some economic indicators improved after July 31st for one and the Fed is concerned about deterioration. Right after the above sentence is this:

Sweet Nothings from the Federal Reserve FOMC Statement

So much for Helicopter Ben swooping in and enacting more quantitative easing. The FOMC statement tells us nothing we don't already know. Nor does the Fed have any more magic bullets. The economy sucks, we have a jobs crisis and about the only thing new is a mid-2013 end date for keeping interest rates extraordinarily low:

The Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013.

There were three dissenters, out of 10, on the decision to guarantee a low federal funds for a two year time period, preferring no defined time window.

What one can gleam from this is the Federal Reserve now believes this economic malaise will continue for two more years. We've known that but now it's official, the Fed is acknowledging the long, protracted economic disaster which is the new normal of America.

The good news is the Fed at least acknowledges our terrible economy, although their previous GDP, unemployment and growth projections were much happy talk.

Federal Reserve Leaves Rate Unchanged

The Federal Reserve leaves the federal funds rate unchanged. Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas M. Hoenig was the lone dissenting voice. Below is the press release along with commentary on general economic conditions.

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April suggests that the economic recovery is proceeding and that the labor market is improving gradually. Household spending is increasing but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software has risen significantly; however, investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak and employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. Housing starts remain at a depressed level. Financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth on balance, largely reflecting developments abroad. Bank lending has continued to contract in recent months. Nonetheless, the Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability, although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be moderate for a time.

Prices of energy and other commodities have declined somewhat in recent months, and underlying inflation has trended lower. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time.

A Letter Worth Reading from Senators Bernie Sanders & Jim Webb

You might not be aware of this but there are two Federal Reserve Board Seats Unfilled, soon to be three. Mark Thoma:

For whatever reason, the administration has not taken full advantage of its chance to shape monetary policy during the downturn. The number of open positions is a large fraction of the Federal Reserve Board, and it skews the balance of power on the Federal Open Market Committee (where monetary policy is decided) toward the regional banks. Many of the regional bank presidents are inflation hawks, more so than the Governors, so this may have affected the Fed’s policy choices.