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Tag Archives: Mark Lieberman

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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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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Beige Book Sees Moderate Growth Despite Sequester Threat

Despite threats from the federal budget sequester, the nation's economy expanded ""at a moderate pace"" from late February to early April, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its periodic ""Beige Book. Activity in five Federal Reserve Districts--Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City--was described as growing at a moderate pace, while in five other districts-- Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco--growth was notched slightly slower as ""modest.""

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Multifamily Boosts Housing Starts in March

Led by a surge in multifamily building, housing starts jumped 7.0 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,036,000, the highest level since June 2008 while housing starts dropped 3.9 percent to 902,000, the lowest level since November, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Tuesday. In February, multifamily activity represented 60 percent of the increase in permits, while in March, all of the multifamily units accounted for all of the increase in starts as single-family starts fell.

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Commentary: Defining Compromise

A compromise, certainly in politics, is usually a result which both sides in a dispute find equally unsatisfactory. It usually comes after some protracted negotiations from extreme positions. In the budget unveiled this week, President Obama, as he has in so many policy initiatives, attempted to reshape the political lexicon and landscape by beginning a compromise, not from an extreme, but from the middle. There is a lot for both sides to dislike in the Obama budget plan and there will be more as the document is scoured by both sides. The devil is always in the details.

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