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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.

Autos Boost April Retail Sales; Retail Space Under Siege

Driven by stronger auto sales but held back by falling gasoline prices, total retail sales increased an unexpected 0.1 percent in April Census Bureau reported Monday. Economists had expected sales to fall 0.3 percent. In March, retail sales fell a revised 0.

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Commentary: Seven Little Words

""Fiscal policy,"" simply put, is the means by which a government adjusts its levels of spending in order to monitor and influence a nation's economy. At the heart of the spending/growth disparity is a philosophical debate over the role of government: those who believe government should be run like a business and avoid debt and those who see the role of government as spending counter-cyclically, that is increasing spending when the nation's economy is challenged to avoid further struggles. direct a country's economic goals.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Continue to Drop

First time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 4 dropped 4,000 to, 323,000, again the lowest level in more than five years the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected initial claims to increase to 335,000. First time jobless claims for the week ended April 27 were revised up to 327,000 from the originally reported 324,000.

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Hiring Drops 4.3% in March, BLS Reports

Hiring fell 4.3 percent in March, the same month in which payroll job growth plunged, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Data from the report indicated there were 11.2 unemployed construction workers for every available job in March, up from 9.0 in February. By industry, the number of unemployed persons per job opening also increased in the manufacturing and information sectors.

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Mortgage Credit Eases as Demand Increases in Q2

The percentage of banks reporting stronger demand for mortgage loans rose in the second quarter, the Federal Reserve reported Monday, with more banks easing lending standards. Those results, revealed in the Fed's Senior Loan Officers Opinion Survey, are consistent with reports that mortgage loans are becoming easier to obtain. While the results suggest a trend in lending standards, they could be misleading: A bank which has tightened standards as much as possible may not necessarily ease them.

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Commentary: Driving With No Speedometer

Imagine if someone removed the speedometer from your car and then put limits on how fast or slow you could drive. That's what 11 House members are doing with legislation which would prohibit the Census Bureau from any data collection except for the decennial headcount of Americans. The impact of the bill HR 1638 would be to eviscerate and effectively eliminate the monthly employment situation report that produces, among other things, the unemployment rate as well as a host of other bits of data about the economy. The sponsors of the bill must believe that if we don't count unemployment it won't exist.

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Payrolls Up 165k in April; Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.5%

The economy added 165,000 jobs in April--rebounding from a weak report for March--and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5.percent, its lowest level since December 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists had forecast payrolls would grow by 153,000, and that the unemployment rate would remain at 7.6 percent. Payroll growth for March, originally reported at 88,000, was revised upward to 138,000, and February was revised to 332,000 from 268,000.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Drop to 5-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending April 27 dropped 18,000 to 324,000, the lowest level in more than five years, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected claims to increase to 354,000 initial claims. Initial jobless claims for the week ending April 20 were revised up to 344,000 from the originally reported 342,000.

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FOMC Raps Obama, Congress as It Continues MBS Purchase Program

With a swipe at both the President and Congress and concerns about ""downside risks"" to the economy, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted 11-1 Wednesday to leave interest rates unchanged and to continue its program of purchasing agency mortgage backed securities and longer term Treasury securities. The FOMC explained the actions should ""maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative."" Kansas City Fed President Esther George, cast the lone negative vote.

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Homeownership Rate Drops to 18-Year Low

The number of households owning homes fell 698,000 to 74,511,000 in the first quarter, the first decline in almost two years, according to a Census Bureau report Tuesday. At the same time, the nation's homeownership rate fell to 65 percent (seasonally adjusted), the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 1995. The Census data paints a grim picture for the home sales market, which has already been struggling against mortgage restrictions and weak inventory.

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