On Wednesday the US Census Bureau reported that year-over-year new home sales increased 47.8 percent in April.  This is the second consecutive month new homes have increased.  On the surface this is great news.  Perhaps the housing market is gaining some real momentum.  However, if we dig a little deeper we discover that this is… Read more

How are banks doing? We discuss a few measures. We closed 16 banks in May so far, with 73 so far this year according to the FDIC. There were only 36 bank failures through May of 2009. While there were 140 bank failures in 2009, we are on track (based on a simple extrapolation of… Read more

Recent data releases show that Core inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, excluding food and energy, has been falling rapidly for 4 months now. This is despite recently strong real consumption growth and despite the overall Consumer Price Index holding steady, see chart nearby. Usually, at least in the past ten years, if… Read more

California’s April unemployment rate was unchanged from March at 12.6 percent. This was the result of roughly equivalent increases in civilian labor force and employment from March to April. California’s April jobs grew at 1.6 percent, annualized, from March. However, if we remove Agriculture and Government, this growth rate falls to zero percent. California’s April… Read more

Today’s decline in market values, and particularly in the financial sector, has to reflect more than new employment data.  I’m thinking that market participants are coming to see that the risk of at least one  sovereign debt default is higher than previously thought.  A realistic assessment of the risks and potential impacts on the Euro,… Read more

Oregon April non-farm jobs increased 3,900 over March. The April labor market update was posted by the Oregon Employment Department on Tuesday. This is the largest month-on-month increase since October 2007. Using the 3,900 jobs to calculate an annualized growth rate yields 3.0 percent, see the chart below. The 3,900 jobs gained comprised of 2,800… Read more

Today’s report that initial jobless claims unexpectedly “shot up by 25,000 to 471,000 last week” has hit the stock markets hard.  I don’t know why the claim is unexpected or why the stock market reacted so strongly. Volatility is to be expected in a slow recovery, and that’s what we and many other forecasters have… Read more

The debate over the repeal of California’s global-warming regulation, AB32, has degenerated into a shouting match, each side claiming economic ruin if the other side wins. A couple of long-dead French economists can help us think about the debate. The great French economist Leon Walras (1834-1910) showed that perfect markets result in an allocation of… Read more

Tonight I’ll be speaking to a group working on saving the Ventura River. The river once had a very large steelhead run, and I’m told a salmon run. Today, it is home to the homeless. I would love to see the river restored to a more pristine state, and I would love to have steelhead… Read more

Recent data from the American Association of Railroads on United States and Canadian Railroad Traffic shows gains in April measured on a year-on-year basis. United States April rail carloads were up 15.8 percent from April 2009 and Canadian April rail carloads were up 26.7 percent from April 2009. While the carload levels are still nowhere… Read more