Reclaiming Common Sense

This week was a busy week for economic data. It was also a week of death and drama with the Attack in Barcelona, Spain, the aftermath of the Attack in Charlottesville, the Statue Controversy, and everything eclipse. So, ignore things that could be seen as good news and obsess over bad news. Not Here.

(Aug 14) The first article of the week was the "July Real Estate Forecast" article. This article examined the new construction data, the new home sales data, and the existing home sales data.Overall, it was expected that we would see solid starts, under construction and completions data this week and improving July New and Existing Home Sales data.

(Aug 15)  The analysis of the July Jobs Report continued this week with a look at how various age groups are doing with the Jobs Recovery and Expansion. "July: The Aging Workforce" examined the number of jobs . There is an urban legend that the dropping participation rate of the US workforce is due to aging Baby Boomers retiring. It turns out that some of the age groups over 60 are working more than their younger counterparts.

(Aug 15)  The media is obsessed with a "Retail Ice Age." The reality is that there are some sluggish sectors and yet we are on pace for a record year for total retail sales. "July Retail Sales: Continued Strength" details how there were revisions to the prior data, retail sales have not returned to July 2007 levels in three categories, retail sales dropped month to month in eight of thirteen categories, and increased July to July  in eleven of thirteen categories. January through July we are up by more than 4% compared to January to July last year - a record year for retail sales. There is weakness in "bricks and mortar"  stores - there is strength for "non-store retailers."

(Aug 17) This column keeps repeating this message; We have historically low first-time claims data and continuing claims data. We had fewer than 200,000 non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims  recorded this week for the second week of August. This is almost the same level we had during 1967, fifty years ago, when we had over 80,000,000 fewer covered insured. We had under 1.9 Million continuing claims recorded during the first week of August. This is lower than what was reported during the first week of August of  both August 1970 and August 1971. We have "Remarkably Low First-time and Continuing Claims."

(Aug 17) One of the many important economic indicators that is released during the month is the Consumer Price Index.  Last week the data was released with very little discussion. Some categories have seen inflation over 3%. Some categories are experiencing deflation. The weighting of the data has changed from July 2015 to July 2016 to July 2017. "What is the Real July Rate of Inflation?" Is it closer to 2.77% than the official 1.7%?

(Aug 18) The week began with a forecast for the real estate data for the month of July. We received the New Construction data this week. We recorded the best new home starts data for July since 2007. We also saw the best under construction data for July since July 2007 and the best July completions data since July 2007. Best new construction data during the past decade should have been a headline somewhere.  How about "Strengthening July New Construction Data?"

It is important to report on what has happened in Charlottesville and Barcelona. It is important to discuss the historic value of various statues. It is illegal to destroy them. It is illegal to drive a car into a crowd and kill or injure people. We also have to keep an eye on the ball. The economy is improving. Where would we be if we spent 15 hours or fifteen days talking about economic data instead of a scant fifteen seconds or fifteen minutes? Instead, we waste fifteen months on Russiagate and fifteen days on a Presidential tweet.