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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.

Commentary: Whither the Fed

What's up with the Fed? The venerable, usually media-shy central bank came in for more than its share of attention in the past week and has no one to blame but itself. It started with the withdrawal of Larry Summers as a candidate to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who, by the way, has not said he's leaving. Then came the conclusion of a two-day, closed-door policy meeting that defied all market expectations.

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August Existing Home Sales At Pre-Recession High

Existing home sales rose an unexpected 6.5 percent in to an annual sales rate of 5.48 million, the highest level since August 2007 ten months before the onset of the Great Recession -- the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected existing home sales to drop to 5.

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1st Time Jobless Claims Up Less Than Expected

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

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No Change in FOMC Policy; Slower Growth

While noting improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions, the Federal Open Market Committee voted Wednesday to continue its policy of near-zero interest rates and its $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program. At the same time, the Fed’s own economic projections suggested the economy might not grow this year as fast as it expected just three months ago.

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Single Family Starts, Permits Gain in August

Led by the strongest gain for single-family construction this, year, the pace of housing starts edged up 0.9 percent in August, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Wednesday. Total housing permits though declined 4.8 percent despite a surge in filings for single-family homes.

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September Builder Confidence Falters

The Housing Market Index (HMI), a measure of builder confidence, stalled at 58 in September, unchanged from August’s downwardly revised reading, the National Association of Home Builders reported Tuesday. The August confidence reading had originally been 59. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the index to remain at that level. But a dip in one of the three index components--the outlook for new home sales six months out--pulled the reading down slightly.

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Commentary: Happy (?) Anniversary

In a speech to the nation, the president described a spirit of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans and between Congress and his administration. He invited leaders of both parties to the White House to discuss an upcoming vote which he acknowledged would be a tough decision for many members of Congress. And he closed with: ""America is a nation that tackles problems head on, where leaders come together to meet great tests."" The words were not those of President Obama but of President Bush.

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Retail Sales Disappoint With 0.2% August Gain

Americans spent more on cars, furniture, health and beauty aids and at restaurants but were otherwise frugal in August as retail sales went up a disappointing 0.2 percent from July, the Census Bureau reported Friday. Economists had expected sales to increase 0.5 percent.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Fall to 7 1/2-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending September 7 plunged 31,000 to 292,000, the lowest level since March 2006, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to edge up to 330,000 from the 323,000 originally reported for the week ending August 31. The number of filings for that week was unchanged.

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Commentary: Truth… and Consequences

While August's employment situation report was less than robust (with a staggering reduction in July's revised payrolls), it wasn't the first set of data to suggest trouble on the horizon for the housing recovery. The Case-Shiller home price index for June--the most recent--showed continuing, albeit slower, house price gains, pushing affordable homeownership still further from low paid workers. That is, until the numbers change again.

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