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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 Midwest Price Weakness

Despite weakness in the Midwest, home prices posted their strongest year-over-year gain in almost seven years in February, according to the Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city Home Price Indices released Tuesday. Home prices rose year-over-year in all 20 of the cities in the Case-Shiller survey. Month-over-month, the 10-city index improved 0.4 percent in February, while the 20-city index was up 0.3 percent. On a yearly basis, the 10-city index was up 8.6 percent, and the 20-city index rose 9.3 percent.

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Pending Home Sales Index Up For March

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose 1.5 percent to 105.7 in March, the highest level in almost three years, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. Economists had expected a 0.7 percent increase to 105.5 from February's originally reported 104.8. The February index reading was revised to 104.1. With the month-over-month improvement, the PHSI is 7.0 percent above March 2012, slightly below the 7.7 percent year-over-year gain in February. The index registered double-digit percent gains from April through October last year so the dip--on the eve of the homebuying season--is less than encouraging.

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Slow Wage Growth Holds Down March Personal Income

Restrained by slow wage growth, personal income rose a disappointing $30.9 billion (0.2 percent) in March--half of what economists expected--as spending rose $21.0 billion or 0.2 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, reported Monday. Personal income had improved $15.2 billion in February, largely on the strength of an $80 billion increase in dividend payments. Dividend payments in March increased by $4.5 billion over February.

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Commentary: What’s Up (or Down) With Housing?

Housing is recovering…or is it? The recent numbers and headlines offered mixed signals: existing-home sales dropped month-to-month in March as the median price increased, while another report showed new home sales fell as the median price increased. Apologists--some might call them advocates--offer a variety of reasons to explain housing's inability to rebound smartly or smoothly after the sector plunged, plagued by ill-conceived loans and lending policies.

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Q1 GDP Shows Sharp Gain Over Previous Quarter

The nation's economy rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter, slightly slower than economists had expected but more than six times the growth rate in the fourth quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at a 3.1 percent pace. Residential fixed investment added $11.8 billion to GDP, down from the $15.3 billion contribution in the fourth quarter, and spending on non-residential structures actually subtracted from GDP, albeit a scant $200 million.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Drop, Continuing Claims at 5-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped for only the second time in the last six weeks, falling 16,000 to 339,000 for the week ending April 20, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The report offered final numbers for the week ending April 13, the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report to be released May 3.

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Price Plunge Boosts March New Home Sales

After experiencing the sharpest drop in two years in February, new home sales increased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 in March, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected March sales to increase to 419,000 from a February's originally reported 411,000. The median price of a new home, according to the Census-HUD report, plunged $17,900 (or 6.8 percent) in March to $247,000, the largest month-over-month decline since February 2011.

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NAR: Prices Up, Existing-Home Sales Down in March

With a sharp jump in prices, existing-home sales fell 0.6 percent in March--the steepest drop since December--to 4.92 million units, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday. Economists had expected a 1.0 percent increase to 5.03 million from February's original report of 4.98 million sales. The median price of an existing single-family home jumped to $184,300, the highest level in seven months. The inventory of homes for sale edged up to 1.93 million units--a 4.7 month supply, both the highest level since November.

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Commentary: No Virginia, There is No Santa Claus

What do you do when you find out Santa Claus doesn't exist? That's the situation former vice presidential candidate/House Budget Committee Chair/potential presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) faces now that the study which provided him with the academic support for budget cuts (aimed principally at so-called entitlements) has been undermined. Harvard economists Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in 2010 published a research paper which held that for countries with debt loads equivalent to or greater than 90 percent of annual economic output, ""median growth rates fall by 1 percent, and average growth falls considerably more.""

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First-Time Unemployment Claims Tick Up

First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased for the fourth time in the last five weeks, edging up 4,000 for the week ending April 13 to 352,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected 347,000 initial claims. Initial jobless claims for the week ending April 6 were revised up to 348,000 from the originally reported 346,000.

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