Thursday, September 27, 2007
New home sales plunged 8.3 percent in August while the average price fell 7.5 percent. New home sales are 21.2 percent below last year. With home building down 19.1 percent from last year, this will only make a bad situation worse.
Will Housing Cause a Recession?
We can have a recession without housing starts plummeting: the recession of 2001 proved that. But can we have a large decline in housing starts without going into a recession?
The chart above is courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Every time we have had a comparable decline in housing starts, the economy has gone into a recession. The lone apparent exception is 1966. And that exception is more apparent than real. The NBER's failure to call the cyclical episode in 1966 a "recession" was extraordinarily controversial and in my opinion a bad call. In 1966, industrial production fell sharply for five months, private domestic spending fell two consecutive quarters, the stock and bond markets took a bloodbath. Housing starts fell by a half.
In the current cyclical environment, housing starts are 41.9 percent below their cyclical peak. That puts the housing sector's current misery right up there with the typical postwar recession.
The odds against our avoiding a recession have shortened dramatically!
Monday, September 24, 2007
Molly McMillin reports in today's Wichita Eagle that "Buoyed by strong international sales and new models, the business jet industry is expected to continue to soar...
"Business jetmakers are expected to ship more than 1,300 jets next year and 14,000 new planes in the 11-year period from 2007 to 2017, according to Honeywell Aerospace's forecast. A record delivery pace is expected to continue into 2009, it said."
Wichita manufactures thirty six (36%) of the world's general aviation aircraft. The aerospace sector accounts for one in six of Wichita's jobs directly and many more indirectly.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Personally, I find John R. Hicks' explanation in A Market Theory of Money far more comprehensive and plausible for what we are now undergoing.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Members of the Federal Open Market Committee which sets U.S. monetary policy are singing from different hymnals. Their discordant tunes indicate that the future course of policy is uncertain.
Bloomberg's By Scott Lanman and Vivien Lou Chen report that: "Janet Yellen, head of the San Francisco Fed, today cited 'significant downward pressure' on growth because of housing and financial-market turmoil. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he's `'generally encouraged' about the economy, while Atlanta's Dennis Lockhart backed off remarks he made four days ago that the housing slump was having a limited impact.
The scope of remarks may reflect a debate inside the central bank over whether to lower the benchmark rate on Sept. 18 by a quarter-percentage point, or a half-point as some investors expect, Fed watchers said.The R-Word?
Meanwhile, Eoin Callan in the Financial Times reports that there is more use of the word "recession" as economic observers digest last Friday's payroll employment shock. Read his "The R-word surfaces on Wall Street."
Monday, September 03, 2007
Australia's expansion is in its sixteenth year. They have been doing well ever since I first arrived in 1991 and continued after I left. (Post hoc, ergo propter hoc?)
Investment spending and exports are leading the parade. The commodity boom and particularly China's insatiable appetite for raw materials is driving growth. The U.S. is no longer the lone leader of the world economy:
Bloomberg reports "The Australian dollar climbed to 82.45 U.S. cents at 1:36 p.m. in Sydney from 82.07 cents immediately before the report."