Reclaiming Common Sense

This week had some important economic data that was generally ignored. The Federal Debt exceeded 19.9 trillion dollars (more on this next week,) inflation hit 1.8% with the majority of the inflation being based on increased shelter costs, Retail sales (MARTS) showed some improvement except for electronics and appliance sales, and the New Construction data was better than expected while being reported as worse than last month, seasonally adjusted. Oh, and the irrelevant unemployment claims report was released.

(Dec 12) This week started with two forecast column, both focused on the housing industry. Monday's column addressed New Home Construction data and the New Home Sales data for November. This week we had the release of the new construction data. The forecast column "Will New Home Data Build on Recent Activity" examined the starts, under construction, and completions data. It was thought that Starts could improve over last November, that the Under Construction data would continue to climb, and that completions needed to exceed 90,000 units to keep pace with its current activity. It was also projected that we would  see roughly 45,000 units sold during November.

(Dec 13) The second real estate forecast column dealt with the Existing Home Sales data. The column "Will November Existing Home Sales Slow, again" noted that we had a November post-recession peak of 385,000 units during November of 2012 and had only sold roughly 350,000 units each of the past three Novembers.It was also projected that the November 2016 Average Sales Price might not exceed the November record of $270,900 because the month to month prices tend to decline from October to November even though they have been increasing November to November.

(Dec 14) The "most anticipated" report of this month was probably the Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) report for the month of November.  How did we do on "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday?"How did we do compared to last year and last month?  "Mixed Message November Retail Numbers"  digs into the revisions to the September and October data, a net reduction of $166 million dollars between the two months, and how we are seeing weakness in the Electronics an Appliance Sector.

(Dec 15) Another report that was received tepidly was the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Report. There was inflation of 1.8% year over year. WE saw the majority of the inflation impacting shelter costs. We also saw a spike in various medical costs, including health insurance."November CPI: Inflation for Eating Out" dug into the data and found that there was deflation for eating at home and inflation for eating at restaurants. This received very little attention. Coupled with the Retail Report from the previous day where we saw a drop in eating out month to month and an increase from November 2016 to November 2016 there were some very mixed messages.

(Dec 16) Friday saw the release of two columns. The New Home data was better than expected - and yet it was given a lukewarm reception .The "New Construction Data was Better than 2007-2015, Not Great" reveals that there was a higher level of single family starts than we saw last November. The Under Construction data was over 1 million units, again. The completions data was the highest we have seen since 2008.The new home starts and completions data are trending with levels we last saw during 1983 and 1992.

(Dec 16) The Fake Unemployment Claims report was released on Thursday of this week. It is released every Thursday when it doe not fall on a holiday. The first-time claims number could have been reported higher or lower. The continuing claims data, non-seasonally adjusted, dropped below 2 million, again. "Unremarkable Unemployment Claims Numbers" has links to other columns that explains that the under 300,000 claims streak never really started and ended last month. 

This has been an incomplete recovery Some retail sectors have not recovered to pre-recession levels. Some Job sectors have not returned to pre-recession levels. Housing has not returned to pre-2006 recession levels, 1992 levels, or 1983 levels. The unemployment claims number is being distorted and contorted to the low side.

It's the economy.