Home >> Author Archives: Mark Lieberman

Author Archives: Mark Lieberman

Commentary: Same Old, Same Old

The summer is over and with it the end of re-runs of (some of) our favorite shows. Still, there├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós one more re-run we have to endure, but with a new twist: Republicans in Congress balking at increasing the debt ceiling and threatening a government shutdown when the federal fiscal year ends October 1--unless (and this is the twist) legislation passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President is tweaked, modified, changed, delayed, or otherwise abandoned.

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August Personal Income Improves at Fastest Pace since February

Personal income grew in August at its fastest pace since February, and consumer spending grew faster than July, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Friday. The growth matched economist forecasts of a 0.4 percent boost in income and a 0.3 percent increase in spending. BEA also revised up its estimate of both spending and income growth in July.

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Pending Sales See Third Straight Monthly Drop

Responding again to higher mortgage rates, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) slipped for the third straight month, dropping 1.6 percent in August to 107.7--the lowest level since April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which compiles the index, reported Thursday. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the drop was expected as a consequence of buyers accelerating purchase decisions while mortgage rates were first increasing.

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Second-Quarter GDP Maintains 2.5% Growth Rate

The nation's economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revealed Thursday. Economists had expected the report--the third in the series of monthly GDP reports by the BEA--to show the economy had grown at a 2.8 percent annual rate, which would have been faster than the 2.5 percent growth rate BEA reported a month ago.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Continue to Drop

Unemployment

Continuing the drop in first-time claims for unemployment insurance, initial filings fell 5,000 for the week ending September 21 to 305,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the number of claims to jump up to 330,000 from the 309,000 originally reported for the week ending September 14. The number of filings for that week was revised up to 310,000.

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Household Net Worth Growth Slows in Second Quarter

Fed

Household net worth improved $1.3 trillion in the second quarter--half as fast as the first quarter--as real estate values grew $626.7 billion, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its quarterly Flow of Funds report. But, with a drop in mortgage debt--including home equity loans and lines of credit--from $9.39 trillion in the first quarter to $9.34 billion in the second--homeowner equity grew to 49.8 percent in the second quarter from 48.1 percent in the first.

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New Home Sales Recover From July Plunge

Builders lowered prices and buyers responded in August, pushing new home sales up 7.9 percent to 421,000, reversing almost half of July's 64,000 drop in sales, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Wednesday. The report for August showed a slight shift away from higher-priced homes as houses priced at $500,000 or more accounted for 9 percent of August sales, down from 12 percent in July. Homes priced at $300,000 or less represented 63 percent of all August sales, unchanged from July.

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July Case-Shiller Indices Improve at Slower Pace

Home prices rose in July by less than 2 percent for the first time since March but still reached their highest level since August 2008, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. All 20 cities included in the survey improved both month-to-month and year-to-year. The two surveys have improved both monthly and yearly for 14 consecutive months.

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Existing-Home Sales Rise to Highest Pace in 6 1/2 Years

Existing-home sales rose an unexpected 6.5 percent to an annual sales rate of 5.48 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected existing home sales to drop to 5.255 million from July's originally reported July's 5.39 million sales pace which was unchanged in today's report. The increase in sales came as the median price of an existing single family home in August dipped slightly from July, down $300 to $212,100.

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Initial Jobless Claims Up Less Than Expected

Unemployment

Following a sharp drop in first-time claims for unemployment insurance a week earlier, initial filings rose 15,000 for the week ending September 14 to 309,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the number of claims to jump up 49,000 to 341,000, from the 292,000 originally reported for the week ending September 7. The number of filings for that week was revised up to 294,000.

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