• GDP Guesstimate

    One day before being announced, the Blue-Chip consensus of top business economists predicted 21Q3 GDP growth of 4%. The Atlanta Fed GDPNow model anticipated 0%. To prove all wrong, 21Q3 GDP was 2%! The future, even when a day away, is unknowable. GDP fell from 6.7% in 21Q2 due to the rise of the … [Read More...]

  • Payment Problem

    During the Housing Boom peak of 7/2006, it took 42% of median household income to cover mortgage payments on a median-priced house. That percentage bottomed at 26.9% in 1/2013 and peaked at 32% in 11/18. In 2019 and 2020, the Fed lowered rates, dropping the ratio to just 28.6% in 8/2020. As of … [Read More...]

  • Strengthening Strip

    YTD gaming revenue in Vegas is $4.06 billion, down just 5.2% from Jan-May 2019, and YTD auto traffic is up 5.6% compared to two years ago. However, deplaned passengers and room nights are both down 41%. But, comparing 5/21 to 5/19, gaming revenue is up 25.9%, auto traffic is up 9.8%, and deplaned … [Read More...]

  • Judge Judy

    The Friday File: Since starting in 1996, Judy Sheindlin will have adjudicated roughly 12,750 cases when her last show airs on 6/8/21. Judge Judy has had the #1 first-run show in syndicated TV for 11 straight years, and is on track for a 12th, with an average of 7.8 million viewers. That is why her … [Read More...]

  • Pool Problem

    The Friday File: In addition to semiconductor, chicken wing, and lumber shortages, you can add chlorine. When Covid-19 first, hit DIY handwashing solutions often recommended adding chlorine powder. Add to that a surge in the demand for pools, and a fire in a chlorine manufacturing plant, and … [Read More...]

Oct
29

Halloween Happiness

The Friday File: When asked to compare two randomly matched different fun-sized candy varietals against one another, the most popular is (drumbeat please) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, winning 84.2% of their head-to-head matches against the rest of the field. Reese’s Miniatures followed at 81.9%, Twix … [Read more...]

Oct
28

Petroleum Periodicity

Like many other commodities, the price of oil exhibits a strong seasonal pattern. Since 1986, oil prices start the year low and bottom in mid-February. From there, prices steadily rise and peak in late September at 15% to 20% higher than February’s. Prices then steadily fall during the last quarter … [Read more...]

Oct
27

Peking Problem

The most pressing problem China faces and the one that forced Evergrande’s default, is overreliance on debt. China’s debt has vertiginously risen from 169% of GDP in 2008 to 306%, the same as the US, a developed nation with deep capital markets. Worse, productivity growth is collapsing as the money … [Read more...]

Oct
26

Rising Retirements

In 19Q4, before Covid-19, the labor force participation rate was 63.2%. It fell to 60.8% in 20Q2, and by 20Q4 the rate had recovered to 61.5%. That is where it has, unfortunately, remained since, meaning that 5.25 million persons have left the labor force. One reason, slightly more than 3 million … [Read more...]

Oct
25

Strong Startups

Prior to Covid-19, about 1 million applications to form business with employees were made during the first nine months of the year. In 2020, that number was 1.14 million, and through September 2021, the number is a staggering 1.4 million. This means an extra 540,000 new business applications have … [Read more...]

Oct
22

Carding Correctly

The Friday File: To randomize a deck of 52 cards it is necessary to riffle shuffle the deck manually seven times. With a perfect riffle shuffle, when one card drops from each side, eight shuffles are necessary. It turns out, by naturally varying the number of cards that drop from each side, … [Read more...]

Oct
21

Domicile Decline

While existing home sales in September rose a surprisingly strong 7% M-o-M to an annualized rate of a very robust 6.29 million, they decreased 2.3% from the frenzied housing market of a year ago. More interestingly, however, price growth is rapidly decelerating. It has slowed from a Y-o-Y gain of … [Read more...]

Oct
20

Massive Multifamily

While September housing starts were dragged down by multifamily starts declining 5% M-o-M, they’re up 38% Y-o-Y, and have been generally rising for the last year. Moreover, the number of multifamily units under construction is currently 701,000, the most since 7/74, almost 40 years ago! High rents … [Read more...]

Oct
19

Forget Forbearance

Forget Forbearance While foreclosure starts are up 32% in 21Q3 Q-o-Q and 67% higher Y-o-Y, they remain spectacularly low. In 21Q3, lenders commenced foreclosures on 25,209 units, traditionally they have numbered 40,000/month. Last year, in some months foreclosures numbered as few as 4,000/month. … [Read more...]

Oct
18

Rate Reduction

The yield spread between the 5-year Treasury and the 30-year has recently narrowed despite rising inflation fears. The 5-year rate is up along with inflation, the 30-yr rate has barely budged. This is because markets now expect the Fed to raise rates sooner than later. That will weaken inflation and … [Read more...]