U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

January 7, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The U.S. trade deficit decreased from $46.9 billion (revised) in October to $43.1 billion in November. The goods deficit fell by $3.9 billion while the services surplus edged down less than $0.1 billion. Census Bureau Report

New factory orders for manufactured goods fell 0.7% in November following a 0.2% (revised) increase in October and are down 0.7% compared to a year ago. New orders excluding transportation were up 0.3%, while new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.3%. Census Bureau Report

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose 1.1 points to 55.0 in December. The New Orders Index declined 2.2 points to 54.9, while the Employment Index declined 0.3 point to 55.2. ISM Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that vacancies in U.S. shopping malls at the end of 2019 were at their highest level in over 20 years, reflecting growing pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers amid the rise in online shopping. Total holiday retail sales in 2019 grew 3.4% compared to a year earlier, while year-over-year sales growth at physical stores was a mere 1.2%. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

January 6, 2020

U.S. News

According to the Wall Street Journal, a new study found that firm-specific state and local government tax breaks intended to attract companies and boost employment offer little in the way of economic benefits to the regional economy outside of the targeted industry. The researchers found that counties using incentives to lure businesses saw employment rise by around 1,500 jobs on average in the targeted industry but had no impact on broader, countywide employment. WSJ

The New York Times reports that according to former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, the Fed has enough alternate tools at its disposal – including mass bond-buying and promises to keep rates lower for longer – to largely compensate for its limited room to cut interest rates in the event of another downturn. Bernanke noted, however, that should the neutral interest rate continue to fall, a “moderate increase in the inflation target or significantly greater reliance on active fiscal policy for economic stabilization” may become necessary. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

January 3, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The ISM Manufacturing Index decreased 0.9 percentage point to 47.2 in December, its lowest reading since June 2009. The Employment Index fell 1.5 percentage points to 45.1, while the New Orders Index eased 0.4 percentage point to 46.8. ISM Report

Construction spending increased 0.6% in November to an annualized rate of $1.32 trillion. Private construction improved 0.4% and public construction rose 0.9%. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of job cuts due to companies filing for bankruptcy reached 62,100 in 2019, the highest since 2005. While the majority of job cuts were in the retail sector, systemic headwinds led to major cuts in the  transportation and mining sectors as well. WSJ

Earnie Tedeschi reports for the New York Times that wage growth among low-wage workers has outpaced growth among high-wage workers by the widest margin in over 20 years. While employers have had to compete for workers through raising wages due to low unemployment, increases in state and local minimum wages have also played a role in boosting wages among the lowest earners. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

January 2, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Initial jobless claims fell 2,000 to 222,000 last week. The four-week moving average rose 4,750 to 233,250. DOL Report

U.S. News

According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest Conference Board global survey of CEOs found that fear of an economic decline was the top-ranked concern among U.S. chief executives heading into 2020. Other top concerns among U.S. CEOs for the new year include more intense competition, labor market tightness, and global political instability. WSJ

The New York Times reports that China has moved to inject more cash into its financial system by lowering the reserve requirement ratio for banks, freeing up an additional $115 billion for lending. While the latest stimulus effort is relatively modest given the overall size of the Chinese economy, it suggests that Beijing is especially concerned about any new signs of slowdown as officials prepare closely watched estimates of year-end growth. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 31, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index edged down from 126.8 (revised) in November to 126.5 in December. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, while near-term expectations for jobs and financial prospects softened. Conference Board Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Trump has announced he will sign the “Phase One” trade agreement between the U.S. and China on January 15. The signing ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C., with the President to travel to Beijing later on for “Phase Two” negotiations addressing thornier issues such as technology transfer and Chinese economic subsidies. WSJ