U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 21, 2016

U.S. Economic Indicators

Jobless claims declined 6,000 to 247,000 last week, suggesting that the labor market remains on solid footing and employers are upbeat about the economy.  The four-week moving average declined 4,500 to 260,500.  DOL Report

The Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey reported no improvement in manufacturing conditions in the mid-Atlantic region this month, as the headline index decreased from 12.4 in March to -1.6 in April.  Both the current new orders and shipments indexes fell this month; the survey’s indicators of employment also fell, corroborating weakness in other broad indicators this month.  Report

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.4% in February following a similar revised increase in January, and is up 5.6% from year-ago levels.  The increase is in line with analyst expectations and reflects shrinking inventories and rising demand.  FHFA Report

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) increased 0.2% in March, following a 0.1% decline in February.  While the LEI’s six month growth rate improved slightly, it still points to muted growth in the coming quarters.  Conference Board Report

U.S. Economic News

President Obama’s trade chief, Mike Froman, warned that Britain’s referendum on EU membership and political problems elsewhere in Europe are undermining the prospects of a new transatlantic pact.  Froman stated that the opportunity to conclude negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is slipping away, and that European leaders need to “provide the kind of political impetus necessary to break through on some of these issues.” FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 20, 2016

U.S. Economic Indicators

Existing home sales jumped 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million in March, and remain 1.5% above year-ago levels.  The recovery reflects large gains in the Northeast and Midwest, where a greater number of buyers overcame depressed inventory levels and steady price growth.  NAR Report

U.S. Economic News

A group of former U.S. Treasury secretaries is warning the UK that leaving the EU would lead to a “smaller, slower-growing British economy for years to come.”  The retired politicians believe that the better alternative is to work for progress within the confines of EU membership without incurring the significant economic risk of “Brexit.”  FT

According to a new report from the Center for Global Policy Solutions, the number of businesses owned by Asian-American, Hispanic, and African American women grew faster than almost every other demographic group in the years during and after the recession.  The report underscores separate research suggesting that many minorities saw entrepreneurship as an attractive options — or perhaps the only option — in the face of harsh economic conditions and dim employment prospects.  WSJ

Data show that 20 of the 25 highest-paying U.S. companies are in the tech industry, where a dearth of talent is driving up annual salaries well past $100,000.  The data was compiled by online career site Glassdoor Inc, which measured base salary as well as overall compensation (i.e., extras like commissions and bonuses).  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 19, 2016

Top Stories

Climate Change.  Bloomberg reports that many scientists have come to view the Paris Climate Agreement as “too little, too late” in terms of mitigating the effects of global climate change —  particularly in light of new evidence which suggests that global warming is poised to hit “geological hyper-speed” in coming decades.   While the agreement to be signed this week is viewed as a significant geopolitical milestone, experts agree that scientific uncertainties underlying the timing and scale of the agreement must be critically reevaluated moving forward.  Bloomberg

Oil Outlook.  Supply disruptions in Nigeria, Iraq, and Kuwait have begun to overshadow the collapse of the Doha talks, buoying prices to new highs this year as underlying supply-and-demand conditions improve. Industry analysts note that the world’s glut of crude oil may be coming into balance, particularly given that much of the spare capacity that was flooding the market at the end of last year is now gone.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Eduardo Porter of the New York Times argues that liberals too have biases that impair the United States’ ability to combat climate change, ranging from fear of genetically modified organisms to mistrust of technologies that displace workers.  Porter cites nuclear power as an important example of this disparity, as most liberals oppose using nuclear despite its track record of generating electricity at an enormous scale with very little greenhouse gas emissions.  NY Times

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic Indicators

Privately-owned housing starts fell 8.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million (up 14.2% year-on-year), with much of the slowdown concentrated in the Midwest. Housing permits fell 7.7% to a 1.1 million annual pace in March, but are up 4.6% on the year.  Census Bureau Report, WSJ

U.S. Economic News

Greg Ip argues in the Wall Street Journal that competition policy has the potential to boost economic growth just as much as traditional macroeconomic policy by tearing down barriers that keep companies from entering new markets — which in turn stimulates business investment in the short run and productivity in the long run.  Ip warns that boosting competition is not easy, however, given that every market is unique and some rules do more harm than good.  WSJ

New Labor Department data reveals that occupational certificates and licenses greatly benefit the people who hold them by providing higher wages and better jobs.  However, the findings do not contradict old concerns that licenses are bad for the economy; there is a growing consensus among economists and policymakers that they artificially restrict competition and make it difficult for workers to relocate because licenses are most often issued and regulated at the state level.  WSJ

The Conference Board expects a U.S. labor shortage in the next 10 – 15 years, which could in turn constrain overall economic growth.    The corporate-research organization believes that the U.S. is fast approaching full employment, and sees few signs that the population of working-age Americans will grow enough to fill the gaps left by retirees and rising demand from employers.   WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 18, 2016

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  Large oil producers failed to reach a production freeze agreement at their Doha meeting over the weekend, stalling on Saudi Arabia’s demand that the agreement hinge on Iran’s full participation.  The group of producers was also divided over whether any deal would be considered strong enough to convince energy markets of its ability to rein in production and bolster prices.  WSJ

Oil.  The Mexican government has vowed to support state oil company Pemex with nearly $4.2 billion in capital and pension restructuring to help the firm pay suppliers and contractors that are owed money from last year.  The capital injection will help the company take care of its immediate debts, but analysts note that Pemex faces structural issues ahead as it tries to reverse its output declines while improving its operational efficiency in the low price environment. WSJ

Climate Change.  A coalition of nations from Europe, North Africa, and the South Pacific is lobbying the United Nations to consider emissions reduction commitments targeting maritime shipping and commercial aviation.  The aviation and shipping industries are each responsible for around 2% of global human-produced carbon dioxide emissions around the world, but were excluded from the Paris climate treaty in an effort to keep the text concise and improve the odds of reaching an agreement.   NY Times

Energy Outlook.  Nick Butler of the Financial Times posits that China may transform the world’s energy market by becoming an energy exporter — counter to widespread expectations that the country will increasingly require energy imports to fuel its rapid growth and transition toward a consumption-based economy.  Butler notes that the country appears poised for an energy boom and has emerged as a global leader in grid technologies that promise to deliver low-cost electricity; moreover, China has focused its policy on various “imperatives” that promise to increase its energy self-sufficiency.  FT

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