Category Archives: Featured

Strike Sums

Prior to the start of the September UAW strike, there were eight work stoppages involving more than a thousand people, the largest of which is the Screen Actors Guild strike involving 160,000 workers. Three of the eight stoppages began in August. The total amount of lost workdays because of these stoppages was 4.1 million, 0.11% of total working time, and the biggest monthly total since 8/00.

Open Opportunities

On 7/31/23 there were a seasonally adjusted 8.8 million job openings, down from 9.2 million on 6/30/23, revised down from an initial 9.6 million suggesting rapid cooling, and 11.4 million Y-o-Y. This is the lowest level since 3/21, but still strong. Pre-Covid the number never exceeded 8 million. Quite rates also continued declining from a 3% 4/22 peak to 2.3%. If these declines soon stop, this qualifies as good news.

Phenomenal Flag

The current US flag was designed by Bob Heft of Lancaster, Ohio in 1958 in anticipation of Alaska becoming the 49th state and Hawaii following soon after. He was amazingly a high school junior, and his teacher gave him a lousy B-. Two years, 21 letters and 18 phone calls later, President Eisenhower called inviting him to the White House for the official adoption of his design!

Happy Housing

The price of an existing home declined 0.2% Y-o-Y in April. This was the first Y-o-Y price decline since early 2012. However, seasonally adjusted M-o-M prices rose 0.53%, and have now risen for three straight months, after falling for seven straight months. Home prices peaked in 6/22, bottomed out in 1/23, and have been rising ever since. Moreover, house prices are down just 2.4% from their 6/22 peak.

NFL Numbers

The Friday File: Until the late-1970s there were never more than two 300 lb. players in the NFL. By 1990, there were 72, in 2000 there were 286, by 2010 there were 379, and in 2020 there were 468. Accounting for expansion, as a percentage of all players, heavyweights hit 10% in 1994, 20% of players in 2001, peaked at 21.6% in 2017, and were 20.7% in 2022.

Debt Dynamic

While Friday’s Treasury announcement that the debt limit will be breached on 1/19/23 is concerning, the Treasury will again employ “extraordinary measures” to keep the government functioning through early June. If the ceiling isn’t raised by then, watch out. With the House in Republican hands and the White House and Senate both Democratic, this is exactly the same scenario as in 2011, the last time there was a major crisis.

Rent Reversal

After climbing 2%/month in spring and summer 2021, and 1.5%/month in spring and summer 2022, in 9/22 M-o-M rents began falling. Since 10/22, all major rent indices have shown M-o-M rents falling, with the declines increasing and by well more than seasonal norms. In 11/22 national rents declined by about 0.66%. In a preview of coming attractions, in 12/22 Y-o-Y rents will turn negative in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Petroleum Profits

While releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve totaling 180 million barrels will soon end, the benefits may not. The releases, intended to lower pump prices and which came under political pressure, were sold for an average price of $96.25/bbl. With crude prices now $74.29bbl, the U.S. is up about $4 billion. While the eventual price we will pay to refill the Reserve remains unknown, selling high is a good start.

Soccer Score

Looking at all World Cup winners from 1962 through 2018, economic analysis suggests winning the WC boosts domestic GDP by at least 0.25% in the two subsequent quarters primarily due to export growth. For example, 1.12 billion people watched the 2018 WC final and that increased exposure boosted global demand for French products. Hosting the WC does nothing, I guess all stadium interiors look identical. Congrats Argentina.

First-Time Financing

With mortgage rates dipping last week by 24bps to 6.9%, the largest decline since July 2022, and home prices trending down since peaking in June, first-time mortgage applications spiked a pleasant 4.4% W-o-W for the week ending 11/11/22. Still, they remain down 39.9% Y-o-Y. As for refinancing, because rates are still so high, activity fell another 1.6% W-o-W, and is now down 86.4% Y-o-Y.