201709.15
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IP Weathers Storms But Not Cars

In late August 2006, ABC News asked more than a dozen prominent economists to evaluate the impacts of hurricane Katrina on the US economy. The cataclysmic storm made landfall on August 29, 2005, devastating the city of New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf coast. The cost in human terms was unthinkable, and many were concerned,…

201709.05
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Demand Dearth

The fundamental problem is that we don’t know what’s wrong. In many ways that is a worse condition because it is one step further removed from a solution. Even after ten years “we” still have to prove that the one thing everyone largely believes can’t be the depressing issue is. Earlier this year as the…

201708.17
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Lack Of Industrial Momentum Is (For Now) Big Auto Problems

Industrial Production disappointed in the US last month, dragged down by auto production. Despite the return of an oil sector tailwind, IP was up just 2.2% year-over-year in July 2017 according to Federal Reserve statistics. It marks the fourth consecutive month stuck around 2% growth. The lack of further acceleration is unusual in the historical…

201708.15
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Inventory Slips Higher, Downside Economic Risks That Much More

Last week the Commerce Department reported wholesale sales in June 2017 had risen by 5.6% year-over-year (unadjusted). Having increased by nearly 10% in May, and by the most in five years in January, 5.6% was instead the same kind of 2014 disappointment that is becoming far too common. These growth figures include petroleum sales on…

201708.07
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Irreführende Statistiken

Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (DeStatis) reported today disappointing figures for Industrial Production. The seasonally-adjusted series fell in June 2017 month-over-month for the first time this year, last declining in December 2016. The index had been on a tear, rising nearly 5% in the first five months of this year. The move was considered by many…

201707.27
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Durable Boring

Durable goods orders were up a seasonally-adjusted 6.5% in the month of June 2017. Nearly all of that gain, however, was due to a jump (131%) in new orders for civilian aircraft. That meant demand for transportation equipment, a highly volatile segment, rose 19% in the month. Excluding all that, durable goods were up just…

201707.25
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What Manufacturing Productivity Suggests About ‘Dollars’ And Stagnation

In a report released last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that Multi-Factor Productivity rose in only 21 of the 86 categories of the manufacturing industry in 2015. Unlike labor productivity which is more easily calculated, Multi-Factor Productivity measures attempt to take account of all business inputs (including labor). Capitalism is by its…

201707.14
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Industrial Drag

Completing a busy day of US economic data, Industrial Production was, like retail sales and inflation data, highly disappointing. Prior months were revised slightly lower, leaving IP year-over-year up just 2% in June 2017 (estimates for May were initially 2.2%). Revisions included, the annual growth rate has been stuck around 2% now for three months…

201707.13
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All Conundrums Matter

Since we are this week hypocritically obsessing over monetary policy, particularly the federal funds rate end of it, it’s as good a time as any to review the full history of 21st century “conundrum.” Janet Yellen’s Fed has run itself afoul of the bond market, just as Alan Greenspan’s Fed did in the middle 2000’s….

201707.05
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Economic Risk Imbalance Continues

Factory orders (unadjusted) in May 2017 were up 6% over those estimated for May 2016. The growth rate was better in that month compared to the one before, but not any faster than the rest so far this year. Year-to-date, factory orders are up just 4.8% from the first five months of 2016. Seasonally-adjusted, the…