• Cooling Cars

    In 2019, US sales of autos and light trucks totaled 16.9 million. 2019 is the first year since 2014, when sales were 16.5 million, that auto sales fell below 17 million. Sales peaked in 2016 at 17.5 million and have been slowly declining since. As for the world’s largest car market, China, 2019 … [Read More...]

  • Exhausted Europe

    While the US and Chinese economies look to be stabilizing and even strengthening, the same cannot be said for Europe. Business activity there is growing at its slowest rate since 2013. Manufacturing activity is in recession and is steadily deteriorating, luckily the service sector is doing … [Read More...]

  • Money Man

    This past Sunday, former Fed Chairman extraordinaire Paul Volker died. During his helm (1979-1987), he unequivocally changed economic history. He not only fought relentlessly for central bank independence but slayed runaway 1970s inflation. Because of the latter, he was one of the most unpopular … [Read More...]

  • Modest Moving

    Just 9.8% of Americans changed their residence between 2018 and 2019, the lowest percentage since such record keeping began in 1947/48! This new low is occurring amidst the weakest population growth on record, limited immigration and an aging society. Most troubling, however, just 20% of those … [Read More...]

  • Tariff Travails

    Prior to slapping tariffs on China, US tariff revenues were $3 billion/month. They’re now $7 billion/month; an increase of around $50 billion/year or 0.25% of GDP. Thus, GDP has been reduced by at least this much, and realistically much more because some purchases are simply not made and we’re … [Read More...]

Jan
28

Unthinking Uber

Rather than fighting regulation, Uber, the ride hailing leader, should embrace it! Uber struggles to make money not due to compliance with rules and regulations but from competition from startups forcing it to compete on price. Uber should graciously agree to regulations -- as traffic is too … [Read more...]

Jan
27

Coronavirus Concern

The economic impact of the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak in China knocked 0.5% off annual GDP in Taiwan and Singapore, 1% in China, and 2.5% in Hong Kong. Impacts were negligible in the rest of Asia and trivial elsewhere. While China is much bigger today, the Coronavirus is much less deadly and Chinese … [Read more...]

Jan
24

Jumpin Jeopardy!

The Friday File: Recently, the gameshow Jeopardy! had a tournament featuring only the three highest earning contestants, Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holtzhauer, with the winner taking home a cool million! The winner was the first player to win three games. Not only did Jennings win, but he … [Read more...]

Jan
23

Hot House

December existing home sales jumped 10.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million, best since 2/18. That pushed up existing home sales in CY2019 to 5.344 million, up exactly 1,000 units compared to CY2018! Sales should rise only slightly in 2020. New construction will rise some, but … [Read more...]

Jan
22

Global Growth

The IMF is predicting global growth of just 3.3% in 2020, but that’s up from 2.9% in 2019, the slowest growth since the Great Recession. The improvement is due to aggressive global monetary easing, the US-China trade truce, diminished fears of a no-deal Brexit and an uptick in global trade growth … [Read more...]

Jan
21

Cooling Cars

In 2019, US sales of autos and light trucks totaled 16.9 million. 2019 is the first year since 2014, when sales were 16.5 million, that auto sales fell below 17 million. Sales peaked in 2016 at 17.5 million and have been slowly declining since. As for the world’s largest car market, China, 2019 … [Read more...]

Jan
20

Transitory Totals

December housing starts jumped an amazing 40.8% Y-o-Y! Single-family rose 29.6% Y-o-Y, while multifamily rose a staggering 74.6% Y-o-Y, although CY2019 starts grew just 3.2% versus CY2018. The December rise is entirely weather related; Midwest starts jumped 85.4% Y-o-Y and in the West 72.7%. Less … [Read more...]

Jan
17

Pour Prohibition

The Friday File: The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on 1/17/1919 and went into effect a year later; 100 years ago today! Massachusetts was the first state to pass a temperance law in 1838, and in 1846 Maine was the first to prohibit alcohol sales. Prohibition turned crime into … [Read more...]

Jan
16

Mild Meltdown

The US manufacturing sector is in its worst shape since the end of the Great Recession in 6/09 and is firmly shrinking; it’s the second time since the end of the Great Recession. Although this contraction is slightly worse than the last manufacturing recession of 15Q4, which was mild, like then the … [Read more...]

Jan
15

Deteriorating Deficit

The CY2019 deficit is $1.02 trillion and Y-o-Y it grew 17.1%. While that’s down from a 28.2% rise in 2018, it’s no reason to celebrate. In 2018, tax cuts dramatically reduced revenues. In 2019, revenues rose 5%, but expenditures rose by a still larger 7.5%. The deficit is now an uncomfortable 4.7% … [Read more...]