201705.23
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Suddenly Impatient Sentiment

Two more manufacturing surveys suggest sharp deceleration in momentum, or, more specifically, the momentum of sentiment (if there is such a thing). The Federal Reserve’s 5th District Survey of Manufacturing (Richmond branch) dropped to barely positive, calculated to be just 1.0 in May following 20.0 in April and 22.0 in March. It follows an all-too-familiar…

201705.15
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Staying Stuck

The rebound in commodity prices is not difficult to understand, perhaps even sympathize with. With everything so depressed early last year, if it turned out to be no big deal in the end then there was a killing to be made. That’s what markets are supposed to do, entice those with liquidity to buy when…

201705.11
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Hopefully Not Another Three Years

The stock market has its earnings season, the regular quarterly reports of all the companies that have publicly traded stocks. In economic accounts, there is something similar though it only happens once a year. It is benchmark revision season, and it has been brought to a few important accounts already. Given that this is a…

201705.05
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Lackluster Trade

US imports rose 9% year-over-year (NSA) in March 2017, after being flat in February and up 12% in January. For the quarter overall, imports rose 7.3%, a rate that is slightly more than the 2013-14 comparison. The difference, however, is simply the price of oil. Removing petroleum, imports rose instead 6.3% in March and just…

201705.02
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Auto Pressure Ramps Up

The Los Angeles Times today asked the question only the mainstream would ask. “Wages are growing and surveys show consumer confidence is high. So why are motor vehicle sales taking a hit?” Indeed, the results reported earlier by the auto sector were the kind of sobering figures that might make any optimist wonder. Across the…

201705.01
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Blatant Similarities

Declines in several of the world’s PMI’s in April have furthered doubts about the global “reflation.” But while many disappointed, some sharply, it isn’t just this one month that has sown them. In China, for example, both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sentiment indices declined to 6-month lows. While that might be erased next month as…

201704.18
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New Patterns of Disturbance

Having finally established that the economy of the “rising dollar” was appreciably worse than first estimated, we can turn our attention back toward figuring out what that means for the near future and beyond. According to the latest estimates for Industrial Production, growth has returned but in the same weird asymmetric sort of way that…

201704.18
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Now You Tell Us

As we move further into 2017, economic statistics will be subject to their annual benchmark revisions. High frequency data such as any accounts published on or about a single month is estimated using incomplete data. It’s just the nature of the process. Over time, more comprehensive survey results as well as upgrades to statistical processes…

201704.07
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Wholesale Sales and Inventory Revisions Don’t Change Much

Wholesale sales rose 5.3% in February 2017 year-over-year after jumping by more than 12% in January on oil effects. Like calculated inflation rates, wholesale sales are for now marginally determined by energy price comparisons as well as calendar effects. February 2017 had one fewer day than February 2016, which according to the Census Bureau’s seasonal…

201704.03
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A Second Confidence Experiment

The ISM Manufacturing Index declined slightly for March 2017, pulling back by 0.5 points after registering a multi-year high in February. The difference between the index and troubling auto sales, for example, is another reminder of what is truly a large disparity between economic statistics and sentiment. The ISM version of a PMI is considered…