November Pending Home Sales/Weekly Unemployment Claims

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: November Pending Home Sales/Weekly Unemployment Claims
KEY DATA: Pending Sales: +7.3%/Weekly Claims: 381,000 (up 15,000)
IN A NUTSHELL: “Most housing reports are looking up but prices are still in the dumps.”

WHAT IT MEANS: It is hard to get really strong growth if home construction remains weak, so any good news about that sector should be trumpeted. So here is today’s blast: Housing sales are beginning to climb. The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales, which are contract signings, jumped in November to the highest level since April 2010. Since that was when the government’s “first time, long time” buyers’ incentives were in place, it looks like we are now in the midst of a real, not policy-hyped recovery. Improvement was seen in all regions with the West and Northeast leading the way.
In a separate report, unemployment claims jumped last week. That was expected though the rise was somewhat more that predicted. Still, the trend is down as the four week moving average fell fairly sharply. It is now at a level that tends to signal declining unemployment rates.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: Most housing data have been coming in better than expected and that is an indication that the log jam is beginning to break. The jump in pending home sales should lead to a further rise in sales over the next few months. With affordability at a record high, if we can only make it a little easier to get a mortgage we just might see the sector show some real strength. Unfortunately, the huge number of distressed houses overhanging the market will continue to put downward pressure on prices and limit the uptick in home construction. Still, this report adds to the belief that the weakest link in the economy, housing, is starting to come out of it.

Next week is a big one as we get the December jobs report on Friday. While the rise in the claims number is a warning that the labor market is still not strong, there are real hopes the payroll numbers will be quite solid. The bigger question is the unemployment rate, which gapped down in November. A modest rise, which is expected, would be a positive sign that conditions are firming and that seems to be the message coming from the claims numbers. So we are ending the year on an up note and I want to wish everyone a

HAPPY NEW YEAR
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

November Existing Home Sales

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: November Existing Home Sales
KEY DATA: Sales: +4.0%; Year-over-Year: 12.2%; Prices (Nov ’10-Nov ‘11): -3.5%;

IN A NUTSHELL: “It turns out the housing collapse was greater than thought but at least the process of digging out from the deep hole is beginning.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The housing market is healing, albeit slowly. Starts are improving and now we see that existing home sales are on the rise. Demand rose solidly in November led by a jump in single-family activity. Condo purchases were flat. The gains were across the nation though there was nearly a double-digit rise in the Northeast. So far in 2011, total sales are running almost two percent above the 2010 level. The increases were pretty evenly distributed between the single-family and condo markets. That said, the level of demand is unbelievably low. The National Association of Realtors revised the data for the period 2007 through 2010 and reduced total sales by over 14% or by about three million fewer sales. In other words, the meteor that cratered the housing market was a lot larger than initially estimated. And you thought the dinosaurs had problems. The reduction is in synch with the larger decline in GDP during the recession that was reported by the Bureau of Economic Affairs. As for prices, they are continuing to slide and for the first eleven months of the year, the median price has dropped nearly 5%, again with condos down a little more than single-family units.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: While some may concentrate on the huge downward revision to sales, the real story is the current trend in housing demand and that seems to be up a little. When you look at growth, it is the change in activity not the level of activity. Sales bottomed in July and have been moving up fairly steadily since. Unfortunately, the large number of distressed homes being purchased is reducing not only sales but supply as well. People with well-maintained homes know they cannot get their desired price, even if buyers are willing to pay it, as long as distressed homes are used as comps. It looks like these “normal” homeowners are simply keeping their houses off the market and that is reducing the number of homes for sale. That makes the supply of homes number somewhat useless as it implies that once conditions turn around, the ‘for sale’ signs will pop up like crazy. The latent supply is there, the actual supply is not. Regardless, this is another positive report that should make it clear that the economy is heading into 2012 with growing momentum. Unless Europe crashes and burns, and never underestimate the ability of politicians in any part of the world to do the wrong thing, growth in the U.S. next year could be decent. That is my forecast and I am sticking to it, at least for now.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

November Housing Starts and Permits

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: November Housing Starts and Permits
KEY DATA: Starts: +9.3%; 1-Family: +2.3%; Multi-Family: +25.3; Permits: +5.7%; 1-Family: +1.6%; Multi-Family: +13.9%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The slow process of getting back to normal seems to be underway as home construction is picking up some steam.”

WHAT IT MEANS: A major constraint to better economic strength has been the weak housing market. With so many distress homes on the market it is difficult for builders to compete. That reality still exists and is likely to continue that way for quite some time which means the pathway from disaster to health will be slow. But finally, it appears that the process of healing is underway. Housing starts jumped in November led by a huge increase in multi-family activity. With so many people out of the market and mortgages hard to get, a growing number of households are looking to rent so this segment of the market should remain strong. But there is also a steady upward trend in single-family construction as well. Looking across the nation, there was a huge increase in the Northeast that looks to be a bit overestimated. That could mean some reduction in December. Starts in the West were robust as well, they were up moderately in the South but down sharply in the Midwest. Looking outward, permit requests continue to rise and that means better construction in the months ahead. Builders are not requesting permits unless they intend to use them and the number of units authorized but not started keeps going down. We have begun to see that as the number of units under construction has increased.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: This was a surprisingly strong report continuing the trend of better than expected numbers. Home construction needs to improve if job growth is to pick up and that seems to be the case. While it may take two more years to return to decent levels of construction, the improvement over the next few years will add moderately to growth. But more importantly, it is estimated that an additional 100,000 starts will add roughly 250,000 new jobs and we are likely to see that increase in 2012. That bodes well for employment growth. Since these tend to be well paid positions, income growth should be bolstered as well. Thus, investors should take heart that if Europe doesn’t melt down and Congress figures out how to extend the payroll tax, the economy can continue to gain momentum. Indeed, if Europe was not such an unknown, the markets would be looking toward next year with some optimism instead the uncertainty now being felt.

RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

October New Home Sales

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: October New Home Sales
KEY DATA: Sales: +1.3%; Median Prices (Sept-Oct): -0.5%; Prices (Oct ’10-Oct ’11)): +4.0%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The new home market remains in the doldrums.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Yes, new home sales rose in October but that is about all you can say about this report. First, the level of demand is miniscule. Think about it, only 25,000 newly constructed houses are being are being purchased each month. Second, the September sales rate was revised downward, not a trend you like to see. At least there were a couple areas around the country, the Midwest and West, where builders did see a strong pick-up in sales. But the Northeast was flat and there was a sharp decline in the South. Total sales for the first ten months of the year are down nearly 7% compared to 2010 levels. As for prices, they eased a touch over the month but were up quite nicely when compared a year ago. Builders are competing with distressed houses so they have to keep prices quite low. Builders continue to do a good job of controlling inventories so demand and supply are being kept relatively in balance.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: Housing has been adding a little to growth this year and that is likely to continue. But the operative word in that sentence is “little”. The huge bump in jobs, income and GDP that we usually get from a rebounding housing market is not likely to be seen for quite a long time so don’t expect overall growth to be great over the next year. Still, there really is no place to go but up so we can also count on housing to be a positive not a negative in the overall scheme of things. As for the markets, the story is the consumer and the apparently robust increase in sales during the “Black Friday” weekend. With today being “Cyber Monday”, it will be interesting to see how demand holds up. With discounts really high, earnings may not be spectacular but when it comes to the economy, it is all about the number of goods bought, not the dollar value so if people spent more on discounted products, that means consumption should be up sharply. This week we get the employment report so after the euphoria of open-wallets eases, we will get back to the most important economic indicator, jobs. The November payroll gains should be a lot better than the initially reported 80,000 rise in October. There could be a decline in the unemployment rate and an ‘8’ handle would be nice to see again.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

October Housing Starts/Weekly Unemployment Claims

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: October Housing Starts/Weekly Unemployment Claims
KEY DATA: Starts: -0.3%; 1-Family: +3.9%; Permits: +0.9%; 1-Family: +5.1%; Unemployment Claims: 388,000

IN A NUTSHELL: “Housing is firming and some improvement may be in the cards, adding to the view that this recovery is becoming broader based.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The housing sector is a long way away from being healthy but maybe it is starting to get strong enough to move out of the ICU to the recovery room. Housing starts eased a touch in October and on the surface that does not look to be anything positive. However, there was a sharp increase in September and the modest decline indicates the sector managed to sustain that upturn. There was a nice increase in single-family activity but that was offset by a larger drop in the volatile multifamily segment. With the demand for rental housing rising, I expect the multifamily component to keep rising going forward – it just may be in fits and starts. Indeed, with permit requests jumping, improving starts numbers should be seen in the November or December data. Builders are quickly taking those permits and turning them into starts as can be seen in the further decline in the permits authorized but not started pace as well as the increase in the homes under construction rate. As for the labor market, there was a nice drop in new claims for unemployment insurance and it wasn’t just a one week wonder. These data can and do bounce around and the more stable four-week moving average fell below the critical 400,000 level, signifying the likelihood of future declines in the unemployment rate.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: Another day of pretty good numbers. Don’t expect housing to add lots of jobs or power the economic comeback, but it sure looks like it will be adding to growth going forward. Indeed, the Home Builders Associations confidence measure has jumped two consecutive months as developers seem to be seeing clearly improving conditions. Housing has typically been the first stage of the recovery rocket and its failure to ignite has been a key factor in the sluggish expansion. That the sector may finally be adding jobs is a positive sign. When added to the drop in the claims numbers, you can see that economic conditions are moving upward at an accelerating pace. However, and there is always a however, two major roadblocks stand in the way of solid growth: Rising oil prices and European debt issues. While a European collapse would cause the most problems, I believe that is not likely. If we get what most economists believe will be a mild to moderate European recession, the recovery will be slowed but not killed. But with oil above $100 a barrel, the prospects of $4.00 a gallon of gasoline is of major concern. Worse, the combination of a European downturn and high gasoline prices could move us back to where we were in the spring when the economy was making minimal headway. So, while I like what I see in the economic data, I recognize that we are not out of the woods by any means. That is something the Fed members are quite cognizant of and why Mr. Bernanke is so willing to stick his neck out and say he will keep rates low until mid-2013. As for investors, it remains Europe, Europe, Europe and it will stay that way for a long time.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

September Existing Home Sales

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: September Existing Home Sales
KEY DATA: Sales: -3.0%; 1-Family: -3.6%; Condos: +1.8%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The housing market just cannot get any traction despite record low mortgage rates.”

WHAT IT MEANS: I was nice to see that housing starts improved but for the market to really be solid, the existing home segment must improve. This is where most of the action takes place and right now it is largely treading water. Existing home sales eased back in September, according to the National Association of Realtors. A rise in condo and co-op purchases couldn’t offset a decline in single-family sales. The only region where demand improved was the Northeast. Contract failures, which are usually due to an inability to secure a mortgage, remained high. As long as distressed homes affect appraisals and credit standards remain tight, sales are not going to gain much traction. Housing prices were down over the years despite a decline in the share of homes sold that were distressed.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: There are so many hurdles facing the housing market that it is hard to see when conditions will return to “normal”. In addition to appraisal and credit issues, lots of households don’t even have the equity to make a move. With job growth weak, mobility is limited and that too slows the market. Still, the mortgage rate is so low and affordability so high that you would think conditions should be improving a little. It just doesn’t look that way as the September sales pace is pretty much what we have seen all year. Sometimes it has been higher, other times lower but it seems that roughly a 5.0 million unit annualized sales pace is where demand seems to wander around. In September, the pace was 4.91 million. So once again it needs to be pointed out that the economy will have to make do without housing pushing things upward. That means the slow, steady, grinding recovery is likely to stay that way for quite a while.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

August Existing Home Sales

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: August Existing Home Sales
KEY DATA: Sales: +7.7%; 1-Family: 8.5%; Condos: 1.8%; Median Price (from 8 ’10)): -5.1%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The housing market is not robust but the rise in existing home sales shows we shouldn’t simply dismiss it.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles, housing sales actually rose solidly in August. Granted the level is still nothing to make realtors smile, but improvement is not something to make light of. The sales rate was the highest since March, a period when confidence was rising and the job market was improving. The biggest gain was in the single-family segment as condo sales rose more slowly. Investors are a large part of the improvement as the large overhang of distressed homes is creating a lot of opportunity, especially for those with case. The sales of these properties accounted for 31% of the total, according to the National Association of Realtors. One of the big impediments to getting sales to really pick up is the mortgage/appraisal process. The Realtors said that 18% of the contracts failed because of low appraisals. That is likely the reason for the rising share of all purchases being distressed homes. It’s hard to get a decent appraisal for a “normal” property if the competition is a foreclosed home. Indeed, the sharp decline in prices over the year may be due to the shifting of the market into distressed homes. Geographically, all regions were up but there was a huge rise in the West. That came after a large decline in July so when you average the two months, the West is really not having a sudden return to happy days again.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: This was a good report as sales rose. But it also showed the problems the housing sector is facing. As long as non-distress homes have to compete with so many distressed homes, the mortgage process will restrain sales. You just cannot get a mortgage even if the comparables are just not comparable. That is a glitch in the system that it seems no one wants to touch but it is real and an issue. The rising share of distressed homes also points out the problems of prices, which everyone likes to look at. As the distribution gets skewed toward these lower priced homes, the price measure will be depressed. This report will likely be a tree falling in the forest as the FOMC is meeting and that is the focus of everyone’s attention, at least today. Despite the growing criticism of the Fed, the Committee is going to do what it thinks it should do, not what politicians think should be done. And that is the role of the Fed: To be an independent rudder to an economy that is too often driven adrift by the politics of fiscal policy. If leaning against the wind sometimes gets difficult, so be it. I have been critical of the Fed in the past and I certainly will be critical of it in the future but the members are non-political and above reproach. It is crucial that we support an independent Fed. Think of the messes we would get into if the politicians ran both fiscal and monetary policy.

RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

July New Home Sales

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: July New Home Sales
KEY DATA: Sales: 298,000 units annualized (down 0.7%); Median Prices (Year-over-Year): +4.7%

IN A NUTSHELL: “With all the uncertainty about the debt ceiling and the economy, it is not surprising that buyers shied away from signing on the bottom line to buy new homes.”

WHAT IT MEANS: New home sales edged down once again as buyers just don’t want to commit to anything right now. The level of sales is pitiful, being only slightly above the all-time low set last summer. Thus, while the year-over-year increase of nearly 7% might look good, it is simply coming off the lowest of lows. Regionally, the sales numbers are totally bizarre and reflect the limited size of the market. In the Northeast, purchases doubled. Of course there were almost no homes sold in June so the increase only brought demand back to more “normal” levels. There was a small increase in the Midwest but moderate declines in the South and West. Builders recognize their plight and they are basically doing no speculative building. The number of homes for sale fell. You probably have to go back to Colonial times to see the number of houses on the market this low (okay, that’s a small exaggeration but you get the picture). As for prices, they were up fairly solidly over July 2010 levels. A somewhat larger percentage of the homes selling for over $500,000 pulled up prices.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: This report reminds us that the recovery cannot count on the housing sector adding much to growth. That is hardly a surprise. The pressures facing home builders do not end with the economy as they also have to face the reality of price cutting in the distressed home segment of the market. Worse, the level is so low that even strong increases in sales and housing starts will not add that much to growth. But as long as residential activity does add a little to growth, which it is likely to do, we are okay. With the Fed going on its “camping trip” to Jackson Hole this week, everyone is waiting to see what, if anything, Mr. Bernanke has up his sleeve this year. I suspect he will simply lay out the tool box and make it clear that the FOMC is “locked and loaded” and ready to pull the trigger on any and all the policy tools it has available. Whether those policies constitute treason, I leave up to the reader, but with the Fed the only game in town, the pressure is on to make sure the slow recovery does not fail. Mr. Bernanke is an expert on the Great Depression and he knows policy missteps cut short the attempts at recovery. While moving to restrictive fiscal policy may be the same mistake made in the 1930s, the Fed will reiterate that it will pump as much into the economy as it can. Whether lower rates can do anything is another story.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

July Housing Starts and Permits

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: July Housing Starts and Permits
KEY DATA: Starts: -1.5%; 5+ Units: +6.3%; Permits: -3.2%;

IN A NUTSHELL: “Home construction may not be the leader of the pack but it no longer looks like it will hold things back.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Housing activity is a key factor in the sluggish recovery and there are no great expectations that the sector will return to being robust for quite a while. Given that reality, what I have been looking for is the sector to move forward at a pace which will actually add to growth and that may be happening. After a solid rise in June, there was a modest decline in construction in July. To me, this represents not a backward movement but a solidification of the gains that were made. Housing starts are also up nearly 10% from July 2010, so maybe the improvement is really underway. The multifamily segment rose strongly and since rental housing looks to be the place to be given the inability to buy new homes, this is a good sign that the market is working. Improvement was seen in the East and West. However, a large decline in the Midwest largely created the drop in housing starts. Was weather a factor? That is not clear but a nearly 23% fall off seems to point to a special circumstance not a trend. There was a much more moderate decline in the South. Looking forward, permit requests also eased back but again they are up compared to last year. The number of homes under construction continues to drop, which is disturbing as it implies payrolls are not rising. This is due to the large number of houses that have been completed recently.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: Housing is coming back slowly but it is coming back. We too often forget that most of the problems arose in just a handful of major construction regions. A large part of the country did not participate in the housing bubble at nearly the same pace and are now beginning to come back. Don’t expect to see strong levels of construction anytime soon as the areas where so much of the construction used to take place are where the excess supply due to the distressed housing inventory exists. But if we see housing starts rise in other areas, which is most of the rest of the nation, then we know the sector is healing. I think that process has begun and I am buoyed by that. As for investors, the world is now the worry, especially Europe even as it appears the U.S. economy is beginning to show that it remains quite resilient. Watch August vehicle sales. With demand up in July, a good sales pace would signal the consumer is spending better than expected and with construction in the positive column, we could see third quarter growth better than the weak pace most economists now project.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com

June Consumer Spending and Income

NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist

INDICATOR: June Consumer Spending and Income
KEY DATA: Consumption: -0.2%; Disposable Income: +0.1%

IN A NUTSHELL: “With gasoline prices high, incomes not growing and the craziness in Washington creating uncertainty, is it any surprise that people stopped spending?”

WHAT IT MEANS: If the recovery is ever going to gain speed, it will have to come from households deciding they want to spend money again. That will trigger the spending of the $2 trillion sitting on the books of businesses. Well, in June households didn’t hit the malls or vehicle dealers very hard at all. Consumer spending slowed, especially for big-ticket items. There was some increase in soft good items but nothing to write home about. Meanwhile, the services segment, which is nearly two-thirds of all spending, continues to go nowhere. This part of the economy normally grows solidly and consistently and the failure to do so is a clear sign that people are still extremely cautious. Of course, to be able to spend a lot of money you need to make a lot of money and income growth is extremely weak. Wage and salary income was actually down in June. As for inflation, the declining gasoline prices led to a drop in costs.

MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: It’s tough to say anything positive about a report that points to consumers spending less money and wage and salary income falling. The spring data have been pretty distressing but we already know that given the weak GDP report. The question, as usual, is where we go from here. What worries me is that businesses are deriving their strong earnings growth through productivity gains, limited wage increases and foreign activities. While that may be good for an individual firm, when most companies do that, income gains become so limited that spending and ultimately growth fades. That is the problem we are now facing. Firms are generating robust earnings but Wall Street is delinked from Main Street and those profits are not creating lots of jobs. Until that changes, there is little reason to expect a strong rebound in growth, especially given the brakes being applied by the weak housing market and the cautious financial sector. At least the debt ceiling bill didn’t cut too much spending in the short term. If there were large spending reductions and/or tax increases, the outlook for growth would be even dimmer than it is currently. Indeed, while almost no economists are marking their short-term forecasts up, the downgrades are minimal. Which raises the question I am hearing a lot today: If a budget agreement was needed to improve growth, why aren’t people more optimistic about growth now that we have an agreement?

RE/MAX Connection Realtors disclaimer:
RE/MAX Connection Realtors are not licensed financial advisors, and are not providing any financial advice, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor prior to making any financial decisions. RE/MAX Connection Realtors are only providing this economic statement from Naroff Economic Advisors, Inc. for informational purposes.
Our company accepts no liability for the content of this email/blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this email/blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Finally, the recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
RE/MAX Connection Realtors, 1000 East Lincoln Drive, Suite 2, Marlton, NJ 08053 www.goconnectionnj.com