Green shoots…shot? Some trouble lately for the “green shoots of recovery” thesis. Early in the week, we learned that retail sales fell by an unexpectedly large 1.1% in March, or 0.9% if you leave out autos. Sales had been up modestly in recent months, after plunging sharply late last year—in fact, while Wall Street loves to look at monthly changes, the year-to-year declines were about the steepest on record. So this big decline punched a hole in hopes that the economy might be bottoming out. But since it’s virtually certain that the American economy… Read More
Housing market stabilizing? In the economic news, more signs of the stabilization I’ve been talking about for the last few weeks, especially in the housing market, following last week’s pickup in housing starts (the term of art for when builders begin constructing new houses). Sales of existing houses, which are the lion’s share of the market, rose by 5% in February, the strongest monthly gain in almost six years. The rate of decline in prices also slowed. But the way that’s phrased is a reminder that the market remains very depressed. Prices… Read More
[WBAI is still fundraising, so this ran on KPFA only.] Earlier this week, we learned that builders started construction on just 466,000 housing units in January (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate), and just 347,000 single-family houses. These are both down by more than 50% over the year, and at record lows by a considerable margin. And the earlier records—earlier than the recent collapse, that is—we set in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, when the U.S. population was 25–30% lower than it is now. The single-family figure is down by more than 80% from… Read More
In economic news, more bad stuff. On Thursday morning, we learned that housing starts fell by over 15% in December (and these numbers are seasonally adjusted, so don’t blame it on snow) to an all-time low. An all-time low sounds bad enough, but when you reflect that this is a history that goes back almost 50 years, to a time when the U.S. population was more than 40% lower than it is now, setting a fresh low is really an achievement. In fact, in per capita terms, the level of housing starts in… Read More
How long a recession? Summers talks nonsense. A rebirth of worker militance?
No recovery til 2010? Obama rewards failure. Daewoo gets some free land.
More bad news – but some cultural comfort?