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Author Archives: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.

Case-Shiller Indices Show Strongest Gain Since 2006

Home prices posted their strongest yearly gain in almost seven years in March, with both the 10- and 20-city indices seeing double-digit gains, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. The national index, reported quarterly, was up 10.2 percent. From February to March, prices increased in 15 of the 20 cities surveyed, falling in two and staying flat in the remaining three. Month-over-month, the 10- and 20-city indices improved 1.4 percent in March, the fastest gain for each index since last July. The national index advanced 1.2 percent for the quarter.

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Commentary: Housing Recovery? Hold the Champagne

Recent reports from the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau/HUD showed sharp increases in unit sales and prices, as well as increases in the inventory of homes for sale for April. Has housing turned the corner? Look again. Sales up, prices up, what's wrong with this picture? The last time both prices and sales of new homes increased in the same month was last September. In all of 2012, sales and prices moved in opposite directions in seven of the 12 months. What of course is missing from the two data sets is any indication of demand.

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New Home Price Hits Record High in April

The price of a new single-family home soared to a record high in April as sales jumped 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Thursday. The median price of a new home, according to the Census/HUD report, soared $20,900 (8.3 percent) in April to $271,600, the highest price on record. The inventory of homes available for sale rose to 155,000--the highest level since November 2011--translating to a 3.5 month supply, matching March for a record low.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Fall; Sequester Cuts Ongoing Claims

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 18 dropped 23,000 to, 340,000 from the highest level since the end of March, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected initial claims to drop to 345,000. First-time jobless claims for the week ended May were revised up to 363,000 from the originally reported 360,000.

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Existing-Home Sales, Prices Jump to Multiyear Highs

Existing-home sales rose 0.6 percent in April to an annual sales rate of 4.97 million, the highest level since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The median price of an existing single-family home jumped $8,900 in the month to $192,800, the highest since August 2008. The inventory of homes for sale rose to 2.16 million--its highest level since last September. The supply of homes for sale rose to 5.2 months, the highest since October. Inventory has been a persistent concern to NAR, which says the low supply of homes for sale has reduced the number of transactions.

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Commentary: Real World Experiments

Economists usually do it with models, so it's rare in economics to be able to conduct a laboratory experiment. Currently, though, we're watching two experiments in different corners of the world that support the idea that stimulus works to repair a troubled economy and austerity doesn't. Japan and the eurozone are, through their actions, demonstrating how economies can move in opposite directions with Japan's stimulus plan succeeding and the eurozone's austerity program failing.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Hit Six-Week High

First time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 11 rose 32,000 to, 360,000, the highest level since the end of March, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected initial claims to increase to 330,000. First time jobless claims for the week ended May were revised up to 328,000 from the originally reported 323,000.

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Housing Starts Drop Despite Improved Builder Confidence

In sharp contrast to reports of improving builder confidence, housing starts plunged at the steepest rate in more than two years in April, falling to a five-month low even as housing permits surged, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Thursday. The 16.5 percent month-to-month drop in starts to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 853,000 caught economists by surprise. The consensus forecast had been starts would fall--but to 969,000 from March's originally reported 1,036,000.

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Builder Confidence Shows First 2013 Gain

Despite still sluggish new home sales, builder confidence improved in May for the first time since December, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported Wednesday. All three components of the HMI improved in May. The reading on current home sales increased four points to 48 from 44 (revised from the initially reported 45), the outlook for sales in the next six months rose to 53 from 52 (revised down from April's reading of 53), and the measure of buyer traffic rose to 33 from April's unrevised 30.

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