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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.

Job Openings Dip in April; Hiring in Fastest Pace Since 2008

The number of job openings fell in April for the fourth time in the last five months as the number of people leaving their jobs jumped to the highest level since August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday. The number of persons unemployed for each job opening rose to 3.10, the first increase in that measure since February. At the same time, the JOLTS data showed hiring in the first four months of the year was up--albeit just 0.2 percent--from the same period in 2012.

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Commentary: Does Homeownership Cause Unemployment?

Can the drop in homeownership be good news? When President George W. Bush followed his predecessor Bill Clinton in pushing homeownership, one loud dissenter was British economist Andrew Oswald who argued that far from improving the economy, as Bush (and Clinton before him) said it would, homeownership hurts the economy in the long run. Oswald produced data to show that every five percent rise in homeownership results in a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate.

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Economy Adds 175K Jobs in May; Unemployment Rate Ticks Up

The economy added 175,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6.percent, the first month-over-month increase since January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists had forecast payrolls would grow by 170,000, and that the unemployment rate would remain at 7.5 percent. The increase in the unemployment rate came from an increase in the labor force as more people looked for work. As a result, the number of persons meeting the government definition of unemployed went up.

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Home Equity Jumps 2.5% in Q1

Household net worth jumped by $3 trillion in the first quarter as real estate values grew $836 billion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday in its quarterly Flow of Funds report. With a drop in mortgage debt, owners' equity in real estate increased a sharp 2.5 percentage points to its highest level since 2007. Owners' equity as a percentage of real estate value has been on a steady upward trajectory since dropping to 36.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

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Holiday Cuts First-Time Jobless Claims

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell back to 346,000 for the holiday-shortened week ending June 1, dropping 11,000 after increasing 13,000 one week earlier, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

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Beige Books Sees ‘Modest to Moderate’ Growth

The nation's economy grew at a ""modest to moderate pace"" from early April through the end of May, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday in its periodic Beige Book. From late February through early April, the last Beige Book released described economic growth simply as ""moderate."" The sole bright spot in Wednesday's report was in the Dallas Federal Reserve District, which had ""strong economic growth."" The Beige Book reported slowdowns as a result of federal budget sequestration, which forced a mandatory cutback in spending.

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Commentrary: Shrinking Bottom Line

According to BEA, profits fell for both financial and non-financial corporations in the first quarter. For financial corporations, it was the fourth quarterly decline in profits in the last five quarters. The slip in financial corporation profits comes at a particularly critical time for the financial sector, as housing-so heavily dependent on lending institutions--is in the midst of a nascent recovery, and that recovery is causing concerns that we may be on the cusp of yet a new housing bubble. Recent data shows home prices rising at the fastest pace since the housing bubble burst.

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Farm Losses, Sequester Cut April Income, Spending Falls

Restrained by drops in farm income and sequester-driven cuts in government programs, personal income slipped $5.6 billion in April while personal consumption spending dropped $20.5 billion, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. Though the income drop was less than one percent (0.04 percent), and it was less than the 0.1 percent increase forecast by economists who also expected April spending to be flat compared to March.

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Pending Home Sales Edge Up in April

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose a disappointing 0.3 percent to 106.0 in April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Thursday. Both the new homes sales and the pending home sales reports measure contract signings and are designed to be forward looking indicators. With the month-over-month improvement, the PHSI is 10.3 percent above April 2012, the strongest year-over-year gain since October when the PHSI was up 12.1 percent from a year earlier. The index has improved month-over-month in three of the last four months.

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First Quarter GDP Growth Dips; Corporate Profits Fall

The nation's economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly slower than originally reported, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday. At the same time, corporate profits in the first quarter were $1.97 trillion, down almost $44 billion from the fourth quarter. The last time corporate profits showed a quarter-over-quarter decline was in the first quarter of 2012. Corporate profits are considered a key indicator of employment trends. Residential fixed investment was essentially unchanged from the initial report at $397.3 billion.

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