Housing Starts No Higher Than Year Ago

The Lehmann Letter (SM) On May 16 the Census Bureau reported 1.2 million April housing starts at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate: https://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf Home prices are rising, but the chart and table reveal that residential construction is on a plateau. Housing Starts (Recessions shaded) These figures are presented in thousands of homes started, so that 1.1 million is shown in its raw form of 1,080 for 1,080,000: 2013 January        888 February       970 March           994 April              826 May              920 June             852 July              891 August          898 September    860 October        921 November     1,104 December     1,010 2014 January        888 February       951 March           963 April              1,039 Continue reading

Autos Peak? Evidence of a Cyclical Peak?

The Lehmann Letter (SM) On May 3 the Commerce Department reported 16.8 million new-vehicles sold in April at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate: http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp (Find motor vehicles under supplemental estimates, then open spreadsheet and click on Table 6 at bottom – Column I [scroll down for latest data].) There have been press reports of autos’ weakness. But – as you can see from the table below – there has been no drastic downturn. It seems true, however, that new-vehicle sales have peaked. A sign that we’ve reached a cyclical peak? Other indicators would need to confirm that. We’ll see. New-Vehicle Sales Continue reading

More Europe

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Emmanuel Macron’s landslide victory for the presidency of France means more Europe, not less. It will empower other Continental leaders – such as Germany’s Angela Merkel – who also want more Europe. And, most importantly, it will mean that the post-WWII European project, begun by visionaries such as Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Paul-Henri Spaak and Conrad Adenauer, will survive and endure. Europe emerged from WWII’s ashes and built an organization founded on unity and cooperation and peace. Tomorrow’s leaders will continue taking Europe forward. Questions or comments? Contact Mike Lehmann at lehmannm@usfca.edu. (To be fully informed Continue reading

Full Employment

The Lehmann Letter (SM) This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate in April fell to 4.4%. We have full employment. You can find the full report at: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm Let’s rejoice at this good news. It’s been a long slog since the unemployment rate peaked at about twice that level approximately eight years ago during the worst of the Great Recession. Questions or comments? Contact Mike Lehmann at lehmannm@usfca.edu. (To be fully informed visit http://www.beyourowneconomist.com/) © 2017 Michael B. Lehmann          

May Publication Schedule

The Lehmann Letter (SM) Is the economy’s momentum waning? We’ll see. ECONOMIC INDICATOR PUBLICATION SCHEDULE  May 2017  Source (* below)……Series Description……Day & Date   Quarterly Data BLS………Productivity & Costs…..Thu, 4th BEA…….…GDP & Profits..……Fri, 26th Monthly Data ISM..Purchasing managers’ index…Mon, 1st BEA.New-vehicle sales.(Approximate).Wed, 3rd BLS………….Employment…….…   Fri, 5th Fed. Consumer credit..(Approximate).Mon, 8th BLS…………Producer prices……. Thu, 11th Census………….Inventories…….. Fri, 12th BLS……….Consumer prices.……. Fri, 12th Fed……….Capacity utilization……Tue, 16th Census………Housing starts…….Tue, 16th Census……..New-home sales…… Tue, 23rd NAR………Existing-home sales….Wed, 24th Census……….Capital goods…….. Fri, 26th Conf Bd….Consumer confidence.. Tue, 30th *BEA = Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce *BLS = Bureau of Labor Statistics Continue reading

April Publication Schedule

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The economy’s surge: On Hold or Over? Some of the indicators below may provide a clue. ECONOMIC INDICATOR PUBLICATION SCHEDULE  April 2017 Source (* below)……Series Description……Day & Date Quarterly Data BEA……….GDP  ……..…..……Fri, 28th Monthly Data ISM..Purchasing managers’ index…Mon, 3rd BEA.New-vehicle sales.(Approximate).Tue, 4th BLS………….Employment…….…   Fri, 7th Fed… Consumer credit.(Approx)…Fri, 7th BLS…………Producer prices……. Thu, 13th Census………….Inventories…….. Fri, 14th BLS……….Consumer prices.……. Fri, 14th Fed……….Capacity utilization……Tue, 18th Census………Housing starts…….Tue, 18th NAR………Existing-home sales….Fri, 21st Census……..New-home sales…… Tue, 25th Conf Bd….Consumer confidence.. Tue, 25th Census……….Capital goods…….. Thu, 27th *BEA = Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce *BLS = Bureau Continue reading

India #15 (Reflections)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The first question from most folks: “Did you get sick?” (By which they mean, of course and politely, “Did you suffer gastro-intestinal disturbance?”) The answer: “No.” “How did you manage that?” “Easy. We did what the locals do. We drank only bottled, boiled (coffee & tea) or filtered water.” “How about shots?” “No shots. Just pills against typhoid fever and malaria.” “Did you avoid raw fruits and vegetables?” “No. We stayed in good hotels that had lavish buffets with plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. We ate locally grown – and raw – melons (all kinds), Continue reading

India #14 (Taj Mahal)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The Mughal Empire ruled northern India in the 1500s and 1600s. Shah Jalan was one of its great emperors. His wife, Mumtaz Mahal – the Shah’s “chosen one of the palace” – died in 1631. The grief-stricken Shah set about building her tomb. In 1643 the Taj Mahal was complete. The Taj Mahal is so famous, few need a reminder of its appearance. We enclose our photos nonetheless. From there we headed to Delhi and our flight home. (Many thanks to our daughter Mera – see photos – for her assistance with the text.) Questions or Continue reading

India #13 (Bhimbetka)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) While on a rail journey near Bhopal in 1957, V. S. Wankankar, an Indian archeologist, recognized terrain reminiscent of that surrounding the European cave art. He returned to find the Bhimbetka cave paintings. They have been investigated continuously ever since, and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Some of the Bhimbetka cave paintings are reported to be 30,000 years old, the equivalent of the famous prehistoric European venues. But Bhimbetka is accessible, unlike the European locales which are closed to sightseers. Bhimbetka is only a couple of hundred yards from the road, and Continue reading

India #12 (Sarnath & Sanchi)

The Lehmann Letter (SM) The Hindu religion is thousands of years old. The Buddha, who turned away from Hinduism, gave his first sermon at Sarnath (near the holy Hindu site of Varanasi) in 528BC. At the time Sarnath was a great center of learning. The first photo gives you an idea of the site’s extensiveness. The Emperor Ashoka built a stupa (shrine) there in the third century BC. Our guide told us that Ashoka’s grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, had established the Mauryan Empire a century earlier and stopped Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Indus River. Ashoka conquered almost Continue reading