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MOSLER'S LAW: There is no financial crisis so deep that a sufficiently large tax cut or spending increase cannot deal with it.

Pending home sales and why housing matters

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 28th, 2014

NAR: Pending Home Sales Index decreased 1.1% in June, down 7.3% year-over-year

By Bill McBride

From the NAR: Pending Home Sales Slip in June

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 1.1 percent to 102.7 in June from 103.8 in May, and is 7.3 percent below June 2013 (110.8). Despite June’s decrease, the index is above 100 – considered an average level of contract activity – for the second consecutive month after failing to reach the mark since November 2013 (100.7).

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 2.9 percent to 83.8 in June, and is 3.2 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index rose 1.1 percent to 106.6, but remains 5.5 percent below June 2013.

Pending home sales in the South dipped 2.4 percent to an index of 113.8 in June, and is 4.3 percent below a year ago. The index in the West inched 0.2 percent in June to 95.7, but remains 16.7 percent below June 2013.

Note: Contract signings usually lead sales by about 45 to 60 days, so this would usually be for closed sales in July and August.

So manufacturing is chugging along at it’s usual 4% rate of growth, jobs are chugging along at a 1.9% rate of growth, and for the most part all the surveys are looking pretty good.

Yet GDP year over year looks to be trending down, with the consensus 2014 forecast now down less then 2%.

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So why does housing matter?
Can’t spending simply go elsewhere?

The problem is the oldest of all macro constraints-

If any agent spends less than his income, another must spend more than his income for all of the output to get sold.

It’s also been expressed as ‘the paradox of thrift’- decisions to not spend income and to instead ‘save’ cause sales and income to fall with no increase in net savings.

And it shows up in this discussion- ‘if the banks charge interest, where does the economy get the money to pay it?’ With the response ‘the banks spend the interest income’.

And if the banks don’t spend their income it’s the same unspent income problem as with any unspent income.

Unspent income is also known as a demand leakage.

And in the normal course of business, the US has all kinds of demand leakages going on, many due to tax advantages, including pension contributions (and pension fund earnings), additions to IRA’s, insurance reserves, bank reserves, foreign central bank dollar reserves,
etc. etc. etc.

This means that much output won’t get sold unless other agents spend more than their incomes. This includes the US govt spending more than its income (the dreaded deficit), as well as corporations spending more than their earnings, and consumers borrowing to spend more than their incomes.

Which is where housing comes in. Historically it’s been the engine of ‘borrowing to spend’ to offset the demand leakages, driving the economy even as the automatic fiscal stabilizers work to bring down the govt’s deficit spending. This includes the borrowing to spend that turned into the sub prime fiasco, the Clinton housing boom that combined with the .com and y2k borrowing to spend, and the $1 trillion+ S and L financing/fraud that drove the Reagan years back when that was a lot of money.

Yes, the business sector can materially borrow to spend to close the output gap. It falls under ‘investment’, including construction, and many would argue it’s the preferred way to go. And this would include new equity issues as well as borrowings ‘further up the credit stack’, as long as it’s ‘borrowing to spend’ on real goods and services- the output- GDP. So yes, there’s some of that going on, which is encouraging, but not nearly enough to overcome the demand leakages they way it did in the late 90′s.

So again, historically, it’s been new housing that has been the prime channel for private sector agents to spend more than their incomes.
Yes, they can spend on other things, but it’s highly problematic for that spending to result in anything near the mortgage debt of prior cycles.

That is, instead of a 200,000 mortgage on a house, the same family would have to borrow 200,000 to spend elsewhere to similarly support the economy/accommodate the savings desires of those wishing to spend less then their incomes. Buying a car does some of that, and maybe a few appliances, or a student loan.

But overall, seems to me that kind of thing can’t ever be enough to ‘close the output gap.’

And with the politicians measuring success by their deficit reduction efforts, the macro constraint of unspent income only gets worse.

So housing matters a lot as it looks to be the only available avenue for the economy to spend more than its income in sufficient quantities to overcome the demand leakages.

Posted in Credit, Government Spending, Housing | No Comments »


Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 27th, 2014

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Donation information and new home sales chart

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 24th, 2014

Also, I’ll be in NYC Friday and Saturday if anyone wants to get together for anything, or play some tennis. Trying to stay fit on the road.

Going from there to the PMC for the annual 170 mile two day bike ride/benefit for Jimmy Fund/Dana Farber cancer research.

Click here to make donation to the PMC

This is the real thing- raises about $40 million.

ALL of your donated $ go to research, 0 to overheads

Dana Farber is the cutting edge of real progress that filters down to all the rest.

Please donate what you think being on this free list is worth to you.
(0 floor, so don’t ask…)

Starting to look like maybe the mortgage purchase applications is in line with home sales:

New Home Sales

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A few credit related charts

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 21st, 2014

Maybe just a bounce from a dip/shift from/to bank lending. We’ve been here before and turned down. And in the last cycle growth was much higher and lagged the end of the cycle:

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Year over year- a relatively small blip up at the end, but in general looks boring to me:

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Same here. The latest blip up looks like just a bit of vol.

And also note that it tends to go up before a recession?

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Not much happening here, either:

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Seems to be a macro constraint on income:

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Consumer sentiment, expectations, and current conditions

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 18th, 2014

This series continues to struggle to get to even the lows of prior cycles:


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Current conditions:

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Time to say goodbye? Schauble Calls on Italy to Pursue Structural Reform

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 18th, 2014

Schäuble Calls on Italy to Pursue Structural Reform

By Andrea Thomas

July 16 (WSJ) — German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called on Italy to pursue its ambitious structural reform efforts if it wants to boost its economic-growth prospects. “Especially since growth forecasts for Italy have been reduced recently, it’s important to reform and cut the debt level convincingly,” he said. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has presented ambitious and broad-based reforms, he added. “The Stability and Growth Pact is the foundation for politico-economic cohesion in Europe,” said Mr. Schäuble. “The Stability and Growth Pact provides sufficient flexibility. It’s doesn’t stand in the way of structural reforms; quite the opposite, it promotes them.”

This is a direct response to Prime Minister Renzi who asked for what can be described as a minuscule amount flexibility with the deficit rules. (Note that Schauble didn’t even say said reforms would boost growth, only ‘growth prospects’, whatever that means.)

The problem is that for any given level of govt spending (a political decision) tax liabilities are too high to allow ‘savings desires’ to be accommodated. And ‘the debt level’ is best thought of as the ‘money supply’ (deposits at the CB) that’s the euro ‘savings’/net financial assets of the non govt sectors.

Said another way, the currency itself is the EU’s public monopoly, and the mass unemployment is necessarily the evidence that the monopolist is restricting the ‘supply’ of net financial assets demanded by the economy.

Said another way, for all practical purposes said reforms don’t increase aggregate demand. At best they address what I call distributional issues.

My proposal is for Italy to deliver an ultimatum to the EU giving them 30 days to relax the 3% deficit limit and eliminate the 60% debt/GDP limit.

If the EU refuses, Italy has two choices:

1. Do nothing as the destruction of their civilization continues,

2. Begin taxing and spending in ‘new lira’ with fiscal policy that promotes output and employment.

And note that if they do go to ‘new lira’ and retain their now constitutionally mandated balanced budget requirement, it will all get even worse.

Posted in Currencies, EU, MMT, Proposal | No Comments »

Housing and Philly Fed

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 17th, 2014

Note the Nov/Dec mini spike to capture year end tax credits (my story) followed by familiar down for the winter, then up, then back down some pattern.

Yes, you can have a low output gap without housing, and yes, manufacturing is chugging along nicely. But overall the charts show declining monthly growth rates of retail sales, industrial production, and housing starts, as what’s looking more and more like the macro constraint of the relentless demand leakages continue to take their toll.

Housing Starts

Fed Chair Janet Yellen was right to worry about the housing sector during Congressional testimony this week. Starts in June disappointed sharply, declining another monthly 9.3 percent after decreasing 7.3 percent in May. June starts came in at 0.893 million units annualized, up 7.5 percent on a year-ago basis. Expectations were for 1.026 million units.

The fall in the latest month was led by the multifamily component but closely followed by the single-family component. Multifamily family starts dropped 9.9 percent after falling 14.7 percent in May. The single-family component declined 9.0 percent in June, following a 2.6 percent dip the prior month.

Building permits also lost ground. Permits declined 4.2 percent after decreasing 5.1 percent in May. June’s 0.963 million units annualized was up 2.7 percent on a year-ago basis. Analysts forecast 1.038 million units for June.

The housing sector still needs propping up by the Fed. This sector is losing steam instead of improving. Recent NAHB HMI have pointed to start weakness with weak numbers on traffic.

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Posted in GDP, Housing | No Comments »

Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 17th, 2014

So do you think most of these people will find higher or lower paying jobs?…

Microsoft plans to slash up to 18,000 jobs

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Industrial production, mtg purchase apps charts, homebuilder’s index

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 16th, 2014

Slowed in Q1, rebound in Q2, H1 about the same old 4% rate IP usually grows at as previously discussed:

Industrial Production

As suggested by production worker hours, industrial production was soft in June. Industrial production slowed to a rise of 0.2 percent, following a jump of 0.5 percent in May. Expectations were for a 0.4 percent boost. The manufacturing component decelerated to a modest 0.1 percent gain after jumping 0.4 percent the prior month. The median market forecast was for 0.4 percent. Mining was healthy with a 0.8 percent increase, following a 1.1 percent surge in May. Utilities declined 0.3 percent, following a drop of 0.4 percent in May.

Manufacturing excluding motor vehicles increased 0.2 percent in June after a 0.3 percent rise in May.

Within manufacturing, the production of durable goods increased 0.4 percent in June and rose at an annual rate of 8.8 percent in the second quarter. In June, the gains were broad based among durable manufacturing industries, with increases of 1.0 percent or more in the indexes for nonmetallic mineral products, for primary metals, for fabricated metal products, for aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment, and for furniture and related products. The production of nondurable goods moved down 0.3 percent in June. In June, the output of petroleum and coal products fell 2.7 percent, in part because of a disruption at a major refinery; the production of apparel and leather declined 1.3 percent, and the index for food, beverage, and tobacco products moved down 0.6 percent.

The overall capacity utilization rate in June held steady at 79.1 percent. The latest number came in slightly lower than the consensus projection for 79.2 percent.

For the second quarter as a whole, manufacturing production rose at an annual rate of 6.7 percent after increasing 1.4 percent in the first quarter, suggesting that second quarter GDP will rebound nicely from the first quarter freeze shock.

We are seeing some volatility in manufacturing numbers recently. But on average, growth is healthy.

Mortgage purchase apps still way soft:

MBA Purchase Applications

The purchase index fell 8.0 percent in the July 11 week, more than reversing a 4.0 percent gain in the prior week. The refinance index was little changed, down 0.1 percent in the week. Rates were little changed in the week with the average 30-year rate for conforming loans ($417,500 or less) up 1 tenth to 4.33 percent. Watch for the housing market index later this morning at 10:00 a.m. ET.

MBA purchase applications:

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National Association of Home Builders index up:

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Posted in GDP, Housing | No Comments »

Retail sales, credit expansion review, Empire manufacturing

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 15th, 2014

Still looking like a macro constraint/fading aggregate demand. Strong auto sales, for example, coincides with less of something else:

And this is the so called retail sales ‘control group’ that excludes food, gas, building materials and autos:

This market for loans overall remains subdued indicating banks getting a share of what was the ‘shadow bank’ business.

And the growth rates are generally well below prior cycles:

Meanwhile, manufacturing, a relatively small part of the economy, keeps chugging along, with overall output/industrial production most often growing at about 3-4% year over year:

Manufacturing activity is accelerating sharply, at least in the New York region based on the Empire State index which is at a very strong 25.60 in the July reading. New orders are very strong at 18.77, up from an already strong 18.36 in June, as are shipments at 23.64. Employment is a special positive, at 17.05 vs 10.75 in June.

Other readings, however, are less favorable with unfilled orders in contraction at minus 6.82. Price readings show some pressure with input prices at plus 25.00 and finished prices up about 2.5 points to 6.82. Optimism is also down as the 6-month general conditions index fell more than 10 points to 28.47.

Posted in Credit, Economic Releases | No Comments »

Consumer debt ratios

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 14th, 2014

Circled are the credit expansion from the ‘regrettable’ S and L expansion (over $1 trillion back when that was a lot of money), the ‘regrettable’ .com/Y2K credit expansion (private sector debt expanding at 7% of GDP funding ‘impossible’ business plans), and most recently the ‘regrettable’ credit expansion phase of the sub prime fiasco.

All were credit expansions that helped GDP etc. but on a look back would not likely have been allowed to happen knowing the outcomes.

So the question is whether we can get a similar credit expansion this time around to keep things going/offset the compounding demand leakages that constrain spending/income/growth.

Japan, for example, has been very careful not to allow a ‘regrettable’ private sector credit expansion since the last one came apart in 1991…

So yes, debt ratios look low, but without some kind of ‘regrettable’/fraudulent/etc. impetus this is about all we can expect given the demand leakages, etc?

And not to forget this an average of higher and lower income earners, with income being skewed upwards to those with lower propensities to spend. I had suspected the consumer would make a move, somewhat as in past cycles, but then FICA and sequesters took away a large chunk of the income/ammo needed to support it, while the demand leakages continued.

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Posted in Credit, Deficit | No Comments »

Federal government tax receipts

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 14th, 2014

Federal government current tax receipts: Personal current taxes

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Federal government current receipts: Contributions for government social insurance

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The automatic fiscal stabilizers got some help from the FICA hike to cut net govt spending and throw a wet blanket over growth and maybe take a year or two off the duration of this cycle.

Lots of indicators looking very late cycle to me now.

This year’s deficit is now running less than 3% of GDP- about the same as the EU.

Posted in Deficit, Government Spending | No Comments »

Consumer credit, cpi adjusted

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 10th, 2014

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IMF’s Lagarde hints at world growth forecast cut – Reuters

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 7th, 2014

And remains ‘part of the problem’ vs ‘part of the solution’

Reuters noted comments from IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who said that global economic activity should strengthen in the second half of the year and accelerate through 2015, although momentum could be weaker than expected.

She said that central banks’ accommodative policies may only have limited impact on demand and that countries should boost growth by investing in infrastructure, education and health, provided their debt is sustainable.

She highlighted that the IMF’s update of its global economic outlook, expected later this month, will be “very slightly different” from the forecasts published in April. In addition, she noted that the US economy was rebounding after a disappointing first quarter, while it did not anticipate a brutal slowdown in China but rather a slight slowdown in output.

Posted in Deficit, Government Spending | No Comments »

Jobs releases

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 3rd, 2014

Looking strong and inline with ADP and surveys.
All good news today!
Happy 4th!

Employment Situation

Average hourly earnings Y/Y:

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International Trade

Jobless Claims

Just for fun:

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North Carolina payroll employment

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 3rd, 2014

Looks to have spiked after benefits were cut midyear, then corrected. Might have been a prelude to the federal elimination of benefits for 1.2 million people at year end? If so, there is a sharp ‘correction’ in payroll employment heading our way:

North Carolina employment level:

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North Carolina change in employment:

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Abenomics= ‘bad’ inflation

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 3rd, 2014

Squeaking By on Abenomics

By Joseph Sternberg

July 2 (WSJ) — Preliminary data show cash earnings, including bonuses, rising by 0.8% year-on-year in May. Base pay increased 0.2%, its first rise in around two years. This looks like the “wage surprise” Japanese workers’ purchasing power fell another 3.6% year-on-year in May, after declines throughout much of Mr. Abe’s tenure. This is partly due to the price effects of the consumption-tax hike, and partly due to the import-price inflation stimulated by Mr. Abe’s weak-yen policy. Because Mr. Abe has yet to generate meaningful economic growth, the consumption tax merely redistributes income away from households and toward other government purposes.

Posted in Inflation, Japan | No Comments »

Vehicle sales hit 17 million

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 2nd, 2014

This is above expectations, a high for the year, and brings the 2014 average up to just over 16 million annual rate, making up for the winter slowdown.

Motor Vehicle Sales

In an early signal of strength for June economic data, vehicle sales rose 1.2 percent in June to a 17.0 million annual rate which is the strongest rate since way back in July 2006. Sales of both North American-made and foreign-made vehicles rose in the month with domestic cars and imported trucks showing special strength. Today’s data point to yet another strong gain for the motor vehicle component of the retail sales report which rose 1.4 percent in May.

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales increase to 16.9 million annual rate in June, Highest since July 2006

By Bill McBride

Based on an WardsAuto estimate, light vehicle sales were at a 16.9 million SAAR in June. That is up 7% from June 2013, and up 1% from the 16.7 million annual sales rate last month.

This was above the consensus forecast of 16.4 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate).

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German unemployment at 6.7%

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 1st, 2014

Shows how far economic expectations have deteriorated when this kind of a whopping output gap is considered to be an unquestioned success and the envy of the euro zone, as well as most of the world.

Taxation creates unemployment (people seeking paid work), by design, as a simple point of logic.

So what sense does it make for a government to create more unemployed than it wants to hire to provision itself, and then let all those people remain unemployed?

Seems they would either hire the rest of the unemployed their tax created, or lower the tax. But that’s just me…

German Unemployment Unexpectedly Rises for Second Month

By Stefan Riecher and Alessandro Speciale

July 1 (Bloomberg) — German unemployment unexpectedly increased for a second month amid signs of a slowdown in Europe’s largest economy.

The number of people out of work rose a seasonally adjusted 9,000 to 2.916 million in June, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. Economists forecast a decline of 10,000, according to the median of 24 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The adjusted jobless rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the lowest level in more than two decades.

Posted in Employment, Germany, Government Spending | No Comments »

pending home sales charts

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on June 30th, 2014

Year over year:

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So far, not seasonally adjusted first 5 months this year down about 8.4% from first 5 months last year.

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