Census Bureau

"Off The Rails" - What Slumping Rail Traffic Tells Us About The U.S. Economy

The weekly rail traffic report published by the Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) can provide a reasonable snapshot of US economic performance almost in real time by looking at diverse categories of transported goods and commodities. It can also highlight important changes in trends and areas of weakness, or red flags. So let’s see what these indicators are telling us midway through 2016.

The End Game Of Bubble Finance - Political Revolt

During Friday’s bloodbath we heard a CNBC anchor lady assuring her (scant) remaining audience that Brexit wasn’t a big sweat. That’s because it is purportedly a political crisis, not a financial one. Here’s a news flash. That’s all about to change. The era of Bubble Finance was enabled by a political abdication nearly 50 years ago. But as Donald Trump rightly observed in the wake of Brexit, the voters are about to take back their governments, meaning that the financial elites of the world are in for a rude awakening.

"We Do Not Have An Explanation" - Home Improvement, Luxury Spending Unexpectedly Plunges

What was most disturbing in BofA's latest debit and credit card spending report is what happened with spending in  home improvement stores: spending which traditionally is directly correlated to new home purchases and construction. It crashed, leaving even Bank of America speechless: "We do not have an explanation for this divergence"

A Dismal Picture Of Decline

A population of illiterate, non-thinking morons can’t possibly obtain good paying jobs. This country spends $12,000 per public school student per year on education and this is the outcome? The factual data presented below paints a picture of an empire in rapid decline. We are too far gone. No amount of money or presidential election is going to change this course. We chose this path in the 1960s and now we will reap the consequences.

McMansions Are Back And They're Bigger Than Ever

According to just released data, both the median and average size of a new single-family home built in 2015 hit new all time highs of 2,467 and 2,687 square feet, respectively.

 

Americans Bought The Most New Homes In 8 Years Just As The Median Price Hit An All Time High

There was a lot of headscratching in today's New Home Sales reported released moments ago by the Census Bureau, according to which there was a whopping 619K new home sold in April, up from the upward revised 531K (was 511K), and smashing expectations of a 523K print, driven by a surge in Northeast home sales which soared unexpectedly from 36K in March to 55K in April, a completely unexplained 53% spike.

A Nation Of Housing 'Haves' & 'Have-Nots'

Everyone who follows the statistics of rising income and wealth inequality knows we're becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. What's not being discussed is the role of housing.

Rents Set To Keep Rising After Depressed Multfamily Starts, Permits

The issue with today's housing starts and permits report, is the multi-family, aka rental units, barely rebounded and remained at severely depressed levels last seen in 2013: at 348K rental units permitted in April, this is a far cry from the recent highs of 598K in June. One wonders if this is intentional, because based on soaring asking rents, as shown in the chart below, with Americans increasingly unable or unwilling to buy single-family units, rental prices have exploded to 8% Y/Y based on Census data.

Another Headline Head Fake - The Consumer Can't Save The U.S. Economy

At the end of the day, the seasonally maladjusted data for April retail sales amounts to no more than a swiggle in the larger trend. To wit, consumption spending financed by the growth of transfer payments and household borrowing is coming up hard against Peak Debt, while tepid growth in wage and salary income remains hostage to a domestic economy plagued with structural barriers to growth, an aging business cycle and a gathering global recession from which it is not remotely decoupled. So contrary to Reuters and its Keynesian quote standbys, it is not true that “the demise of the U.S. consumer have been greatly exaggerated”. Actually, it can be hardly exaggerated enough.

Saving Is Dumb... Say The Central Bankers

Central bankers have been waging a war against savers. What those central bankers want you to do is either (1) spend money to increase demand, or (2) buy stocks to increase capital. Well, it sure looks like American consumers are not doing the former...