July Economic Indicators

The Lehmann Letter (SM) I’ll be away on vacation, returning the week of July 11th. Here are July’s economic indicators. ECONOMIC INDICATOR PUBLICATION SCHEDULE July 2011 Source (* below)……Series Description……Day & Date Quarterly Data BEA…………………….GDP …..……Fri, 29th Monthly Data ISM..Purchasing managers’ index…Fri, 1st BEA.New-vehicle sales.(Approx).Wed, 6thBLS………….Employment………… Fri, 8th Fed Consumer credit..(Approx).Fri, 8thCensus………Inventories………. Thu, 14thBLS………….Producer prices……. Thu, 14th BLS………….Consumer prices.….. Fri, 15thFed……….Capacity utilization……Fri, 15thCensus………Housing starts…….Tue, 19thNAR………Existing-home sales….Wed, 20th Conf Bd…….Leading indicators….Thu, 21st Census……..New-home sales……Tue, 26th Conf Bd….Consumer confidence.. Tue, 26th Census……….Capital goods…….. Wed, 27th *BEA = Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce*BLS = Bureau of Labor Statistics Continue reading

Home Sales: Bumping Along the Bottom

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Today’s new-home sales report from the Census Bureau is as depressing as the last report: http://www.census.gov/const/newressales.pdf 319,000 new homes were sold in May. Take a look at the chart and you can see we’re bumping along the bottom. New Home Sales (Click on chart to enlarge.) Recessions shaded Here’s the deal: No construction recovery = No prosperity. Slack home sales = Slack recovery. It’s as simple as that. (The chart was taken from http://www.beyourowneconomist.com. [Click on Seminars and then Charts.] Go there for additional charts on the economy and a list of economic indicators.) © 2011 Continue reading

Foreclosure Slowdown: What Does It Mean?

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Foreclosure Slowdown: What Does It Mean? Take a look at Sunday’s front-page New York Times article on foreclosures: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/business/19foreclosure.html?_r=1&ref=davidstreitfeld The pace of foreclosures has slowed dramatically, especially in those states (roughly half) where foreclosure involves a court procedure. How will this affect residential construction’s recovery? We all know that dumping foreclosed properties on the market depresses real-estate prices and dampens residential construction. But……….. Does dumping foreclosed properties on the market all at once, and sharply depressing home prices, speed recovery? Or is recovery best served when foreclosed properties are offered for sale over a longer period Continue reading

Housing Starts Remain Dismal

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Take a look at this morning’s Census Bureau report on May housing starts: http://www.census.gov/const/newresconst.pdf Then place the 560,000 figure in the chart. Housing Starts (Click on chart to enlarge.) Recessions shaded See any reason to cheer? There isn’t any. And the economy can’t do what we want – prosper and provide jobs for all who seek them – until we do begin cheering about housing starts. But that won’t happen until we are on a solid trajectory to a report double that of today’s. And that won’t happen any time soon. (The chart was taken from Continue reading


The Lehmann Letter (SM) Two reports in the past week illustrate the lukewarm pace of this recovery. The Commerce Department announced that May new-vehicle sales fell to 11.8 million at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate from 13.1 million in April. This may be due to the effect of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami upon sales and production in this country. But the slowdown could be due to households’ unwillingness to compromise their balance sheets with fewer liquid assets and more debt. After all, the old car may last a little longer or a used car may do just as well. You Continue reading


The Lehmann Letter (SM) The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 54,000 jobs in May: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm There were 83,000 private-sector gains and 29,000 public-sector losses. The chart indicates that month-to-month data vary. But the chart also shows increases averaging around a quarter-million during periods of robust economic expansion. We can continue to hope for the best. Job growth (Click on chart to enlarge.) But it will take more than hope to bring the unemployment rate down from 9.1% to an acceptable 5% level. The economy requires consistent monthly job growth between 200,000 and 300,000 over the next several Continue reading

Housing: Conflicting Views

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Today’s stock market rout focused on the weak labor market. In this letter’s view, the housing slump lies at the center of the economy’s problems. But some believe a turn-around is imminent. A front-page story in today’s Wall Street Journal presented the problem: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357170425058088.html?mod=ITP_pageone_0 A front-page story in the NY Times’s business section shared the views of those who think housing is about to break out of its slump: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/business/01housing.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper We’ll see. © 2011 Michael B. Lehmann