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Tag Archives: Mark Lieberman

Commentary: Solving the Wrong Problem

President Obama is trying to solve the wrong problem by calling, as he did in his speech in Phoenix, for the end of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as we know it. To be sure, Fannie and Freddie were not the hallmarks of responsibility in the mortgage meltdown, but have gotten a bad rap. For all their housing expertise, they missed all the signals of the housing bubble (but then again so did Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and his successor Ben S. Bernanke who dismissed it when the first signs of the meltdown emerged). Instead of suggesting replacing Fannie and Freddie to restore the nation's housing markets, the president should be proposing to return them to their original charters.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Up, Still Below Expectations

First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased 5,000 to 333,000 for the week ending August 3, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to drop to climb to 336,000 from the 326,000 originally reported for the week ending July 27. The number of filings for that week was revised to 328,000, the lowest level since early May.

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Job Openings Hit Five-Year High in June

The number of job openings rose 29,000 in June to the highest level in five years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). At the same time, the number of unemployed individuals per job opening dipped below 3 (to 2.99) for the first time since October 2008. The number of unemployed per job opening fell sharply in the construction industry to 6.2 in June--the lowest level since July 2008--from a revised 8.7 in May.

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Demand for Non-Traditional, Sub-prime Loans Up

Adding to concerns of a new housing bubble, lenders reported an increase in demand for non-traditional and sub-prime mortgage loans and that they’ve responded to that demand by easing standards, the Federal Reserve reported Monday in its quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey. According to the survey, a net 3.1 percent of lenders responding said demand for ""non-traditional"" residential loans increased from the survey released three months ago and a net 25 percent of respondents said demand for loans from sub-prime borrowers was higher than it was in May.

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Commentary: Disappointing Jobs Report? Says Who?

""Beauty,"" Lew Wallace, the author of ""Ben Hur,"" once wrote, ""is altogether in the eye of the beholder."" So, it seems, is ""disappointment""-- at least when it comes to describing or characterizing the employment report for July, which showed 162,000 new payroll jobs and a drop in the unemployment to 7.4 percent. The disappointment came not from the unemployment rate--the lowest since September 2008--but from the creation of ""only"" 162,000 jobs. To be sure, the people who are ""disappointed"" are those forecasters who predicted more jobs would be created.

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Spending Up Faster Than Income in June

Personal spending in June grew 0.5 percent, its fastest pace February while personal income rose 0.3 percent ,the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. Economists had expected income and spending each to grow 0.4 percent. By the numbers, income grew $45.4 billion, while spending was up $59.4 billion, the largest month-over-month increase since February when spending rose $75.7 billion.

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Payrolls Up 162K in July; Unemployment Rate Down to 7.4 %

The nation's economy added 162,000 jobs in July as the unemployment rate fell to 7.4.percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists had forecast payrolls would grow by 175,000 and that the unemployment rate would dip to 7.5 percent. Average weekly hours fell to 34.4, compared with forecasts of 34.5, and average hourly earnings fell two cents. Despite the increase in jobs, the report could have a major negative impact on the broader economy, as it showed more people with jobs but working fewer hours and for less money.

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First-Time Unemployment Claims Plunge to 5-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level in five years, falling 19,000 to 326,000 for the week ending July 27, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to edge up to 345,000 from the 343,000 originally reported for the week ending July 20. The number of filings for that week was revised to 345,000.

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FOMC Issues Mortgage Rate Warning

The FOMC voted Wednesday to continue its policy of near-zero interest rates and its $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program. In a subtle change of language designed to assuage nervous stock investors, the FOMC statement said the committee ""reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens.""

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Q2 GDP Grows 1.7%, Exceeds Expectations

The nation’s economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday. Growth exceeded economist forecasts but remained slower than the growth rate needed to add jobs. In the first quarter, GDP grew 1.1 percent and in the second quarter last year, the economy grew at a 1.2 percent annualized rate.

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