Data Updates

Data Updates

December 2008

  • 12.30.2008
  • Home Price Indexes
  • Both the 20–city composite and the 10–city composite S&P/Case–Shiller Home Price Indexes continued to decline in October falling 2.1 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively. The underlying data showed that all 20 of the metro areas measured declined over the month, in contrast to recent months which had occasionally shown price increases in select metros. The 12-month growth rates in both composite indexes declined again in October putting the 20–city index’s rate at –18.0 percent and the 10–city index’s rate at −19.1 percent. While both rates set new records for price declines in a year the pace of decline in both 12–month growth rates has slowed some in recent months. The FHFA house price index declined 1.1 percent in October, bringing the 12–month growth rate to a record low of &minus7.5 percent. The FHFA index which includes more data from rural areas but less data on homes purchased with jumbo or unconventional loans showed October price declines in seven of the nine census regions it measures. Prices in New England and the Mountain region were both up slightly in October.
  • 12.27.2008
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income fell 0.2 percent in November, following a 0.1 percent gain in October. Over the past 12 months, personal income has increased just 2.5 percent, the smallest 12-month growth rate since 2003. In real terms, personal income increased a fairly substantial 0.9 percent in November, as price declines were more rapid than the decline in income. Excluding transfer payments, real personal income still rose 0.9 percent over the month. The increase in real income brings the 12-month growth rate up to 1.0 percent, following four straight months of a negative growth rate. The 12-month growth rate in personal income less transfer payments remained negative at −0.2 percent, up from −1.2 percent in October. Nominal personal consumption expenditures declined 0.6 percent in November and are now up only 0.5 percent from a year ago, the slowest growth since 1961. Adjusted for prices, personal consumption increased 0.6 percent in November but is down 0.9 percent from a year ago.
  • 12.27.2008
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods decreased 1.0 percent in November, adding to October’s 8.4 percent drop. The decrease brings the 12-month growth rate in orders to a new cyclical low of −13.2 percent, still substantially above the low of −20.1 percent seen during the last recession. Excluding orders for transportation equipment, which tend to be volatile, durable goods orders increased 1.2 percent, resulting in a 12-month growth rate of −6.2 percent, up from −8.1 in October. Orders for nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft (which many consider to be a proxy for business fixed investment) increased 4.7 percent in November, after falling 6.6 percent in October. The 12-month rate in this series is now at −1.7 percent, up 6.1 percent in October.
  • 12.27.2008
  • Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • The PCE price index declined 1.1 percent in November (nonannualized), by far its largest decline on record. The core index, which excludes food and energy prices, was virtually unchanged for the second consecutive month. Over the past four months, the 12-month growth rate in headline prices has fallen drastically, from 4.5 percent in July to 1.4 percent in November. The 12-month growth rate in core prices has been considerably more stable but has still fallen significantly, from a high of 2.4 percent in July to 1.9 percent in November.
  • 12.23.2008
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales declined 8.0 percent in November following a downwardly revised 4.6 percent drop in October. The decline, assuming it holds through revisions, ends a period of 14 months during which existing home sales had been fairly stable. The 12-month growth rate in sales fell from -1.4 percent to -8.8 percent as a result of November’s decline. The number of existing single-family homes for sale increased 1.4 percent, bringing the months of supply at the current sales pace up from 9.7 months in October to 10.6 months in November.
  • 12.23.2008
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 2.9 percent in November, bringing the series down to its lowest level since the 1990 recession. The 12-month growth rate in sales improved slightly from its recent low of -42.0 percent but remains extremely low at -35.3 percent. Inventories of new homes for sale continued to decline, falling 7.0 percent in November, by far the largest single-month decline on record. However, relative to the current sales pace, inventories are still elevated at 11.5 months of supply.
  • 12.23.2008
  • Real GDP: Third-Quarter Final
  • Real GDP decreased at an annualized rate of 0.5 percent, unchanged from the preliminary estimate, according to the final estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures were revised down 0.1 percentage point to -3.8 percent, reflecting downward adjustments to both nondurables and services consumption, which were partially offset by an upward revision to durables consumption. Business fixed investment was largely unchanged during the revision. However, residential investment was revised up from -17.6 percent to -16.1 percent. Export growth in the third quarter continued to be revised down, adding only 0.4 percentage point to real GDP growth, compared to adding 0.5 percentage point in the preliminary release and 0.8 percentage point in the advance estimate. Imports were revised down to -3.5 percent from -3.2 percent in the preliminary estimate and -1.9 percent according to the advance estimate.
  • 12.23.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up to a value of 60.1 from 59.1 in December. The current conditions component was virtually unchanged, while the expectations component improved, moving from 52.4 to 54.0. The release cited falling retail prices as driving the sentiment gains, despite growing concerns over job losses and falling incomes. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations were revised down to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent in early December, down 1.2 percentage points from November. Longer-term (five-to-ten year) average inflation expectations were revised down 0.1 percentage point to 2.6 percent in December, an all-time low (the series goes back to Feb 1979).
  • 12.16.2008
  • CPI
  • The CPI fell further than expected, posting a record decrease of −18.4 percent (annualized rate) in November. As you may have guessed, rapidly falling energy price—down 89.3 percent (annualized rate)—were a large part of the decrease. On a year–over–year basis, the CPI is now up only 1.1 percent, a far cry from July’s 5.6 percent growth rate. Excluding food and energy prices (core CPI), the index was virtually unchanged, ticking up a slight 0.3 percent, bringing its 12–month growth rate to 2.0 percent. The median CPI actually rose 2.6 percent in November, up from 1.8 percent in October, while the 16 percent trimmed–mean was unchanged during the month. Parsing through the distribution of price changes yields some interesting facts. First, 30 percent of the index exhibited price decreases, down slightly from 33 percent last month. Also, the percentage of the index in the tails of the distribution (<0 or >5) declined to 40 percent from 51 percent in October. Both of those may be very tentative signs that prices are starting to gravitate towards the center. However, its not there yet. Suppose you take a broad definition of price stability—say price increases ranging between 1 percent and 3 percent: Just five of the 45 components we use in the median calculation, with a combined relative importance value of 7.6 percent, were in that range in November; down from 17 percent in October and 29 percent in July (when energy prices were spiking).
  • 12.16.2008
  • Housing Starts
  • Total housing starts decreased 18.9 percent in November, resulting in the slowest month for homebuilders since the series began in 1959. The often less volatile single-family series fell 16.9 percent to an annual space of 441 thousand units, also the slowest on record. Permits for total and single-family housing units fell 15.6 percent and 12.3 percent respectively in November. All four series are down nearly 50 percent from a year ago and the pace of the decline has shown no signs of slowing.
  • 12.15.2008
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production decreased 7.2 percent (annualized rate) in November, following a couple of “hurricane–related” monthly distortions—an upwardly revised 18.9 percent increase in October and a downwardly revised 39.6 percent drop in September. Over the three months prior to November, industrial production fell 15.1 percent. Manufacturing production decreased 16.3 percent in November, despite a rather large rebound in commercial aircraft production after a strike ended. Outside of aircraft, declines were seen in every category of durable and nondurable manufacturing. Activity in the mining industry jumped up 34.7 percent in November, boosted by continued recovery in the Gulf of Mexico following the recent hurricanes. Utilities output also increased in November, rising 20.7 percent. The capacity utilization rate shed 0.6 percentage points to 75.4 during the month, well below its average of 79.0 over the last ten years.
  • 12.12.2008
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales decreased at an annualized rate of 19.2 percent in November, following downwardly revised 30.2 percent drop in October (one of the worst on record). Its fifth consecutive monthly decrease has brought the series down 7.4 percent over the past year, marking its deepest plunge since the series began in 1967. Excluding motor vehicle sales, retail sales look a little better, but are still down 2.9 percent over the last year. Because these are nominal numbers, the dramatic decreases may be exaggerated by recent price decreases (especially in categories sensitive to energy price movements such as gasoline stations). One addendum measure that removes some of these prices effects—retail sales excluding autos, building services, and sales at gasoline stations—actually improved in November, rising 6.6 percent and is up 0.9 percent on a year–over–year basis.
  • 12.12.2008
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods continued its freefall, decreasing 23.5 percent (annualized rate) in November, following a 28.5 percent decline last month. Its 12–month growth, which reached a recent peak of 9.8 percent in July, has slowed all the way to just 0.2 percent. Energy price decreases are a large part of the overall decrease, as the PPI excluding food and energy prices actually rose 1.4 percent in November, while its 12-month growth rate remained roughly stable at 4.2 percent. That said, further back on the production line, both core intermediate and core crude goods prices posted dramatic declines, falling 24.0 percent and 93.6 percent, respectively.
  • 12.12.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased 3.8 points from its recent low of 55.3 to 59.1. The current conditions component of the index increased 11.9 points, one of the largest increases in this part of the index on record, while the expectations component of the index fell 1.5 points. The overall index while up, is still extremely low. The index has only dropped to lower levels in two periods since it began in 1952, those periods being the 1974 recession and the 1980 recession. Median inflation expectations for the next year have decreased substantially from 2.9 percent to 1.7 percent while five–to–ten year expectations dropped from 2.9 percent to 2.7 percent.
  • 12.11.2008
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices continued to fall precipitously in November, decreasing at an annualized rate of 56.3 percent, after a 48.4 percent decline in October. While this is largely reflective of dramatic declines in energy prices—down 97.2 percent during the month—nonpetroleum prices plummeted 19.3 percent in November (almost doubling a previous record decline). On a year–over–year basis, nonpetroleum import prices are up only 2.4 percent, compared to a 12–month growth rate of 7.8 percent just four months prior. Export prices fell by 32.2 percent in November, surpassing its previous record decline of 21.5 percent achieved last month. Over the past six months, export prices have fallen 9.8 percent.
  • 12.11.2008
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit increased $0.6 billion in October to $57.2 billion—well above the consensus forecast of $53.5 billion. Both imports and exports have fallen precipitously over the past three months. In October, exports fell 2.2 percent following a 6.4 percent decline in September, while imports dropped 1.3percent in October after a 5.7 percent decline in September. The decline in imports, while not exactly small, was a bit of a surprise as a much larger decline was anticipated. In fact, in real terms imports actually increased, led by an increase in the quantity of petroleum imported over the month. The decline in exports in recent months is of particular concern as export growth had been one of the only bright spots in the recent GDP figures.
  • 12.05.2008
  • Employment Report
  • Nonfarm payrolls shed 533,000 in November, much more than was expected. If it holds through revision, this will be the largest monthly drop in payrolls since December 1974. To make matters worse, payrolls in September and October were revised down to −403,000 and −320,000, respectively. Since the start of the recession (December 2007), payrolls are down 1.9 million jobs, with roughly 1.3 million of the decrease coming in the last three months. There were losses across the board in November. Only education and health services posted a gain (+52,000). Goods–producing payrolls declined by 163,000 and that was evenly split between construction and manufacturing. Service–providing employment fell 370,000 in November. More than half of the losses on the service side came from retail trade (−91,300) and employment services (−100,700). On the household side, the number of unemployed persons rose to 10.3 million and the unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 6.7 percent.
  • 12.04.2008
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods continued to decline in October, falling 5.1 percent (nonannualized) after a 3.1 percent decrease in September, and bringing its 12–month growth rate to −5.3 percent. New orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft plunged 5.0 percent in October and are down 10.4 percent over the past three months. Shipments decreased 3.2 percent during the month, and have fallen 2.3 percent on a year–over–year basis. Inventories posted its second consecutive monthly decline, falling 0.6 percent in October. Unfilled orders fell for the first time in over two years, decreasing 0.6 percent in October.
  • 12.03.2008
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity (output per hour of all persons) was revised up from an increase 1.1 percent (annualized rate) to 1.3 percent in the third quarter, still down from a 3.6 percent gain in the second quarter. Unfortunately the upward revision in productivity was due to a 0.4 percentage point downward adjustment to −3.1 percent in hours worked in the third quarter, outpacing a 1.9 percent decrease in output (revised down 0.2 percentage point from −1.7 percent). Compensation per hour was adjusted down to 4.1 percent from 4.7 percent during the revision. After adjusting for price effects, real compensation actually fell 2.4 percent in the third quarter and is down 1.6 percent over the past year. Unit labor costs in the third quarter were revised down to an increase of 2.8 percent, opposed to 3.6 percent according to the preliminary estimate. Over the past four quarters, unit labor costs are up 1.4 percent.
  • 12.01.2008
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM manufacturing index continued its freefall in November, slipping 2.7 points to 36.2, its lowest reading since May 1982. The index is down 13.8 points since July and is well below the 41.1 threshold that the ISM claims is generally indicative of recessions. All of the major sub–indexes that comprise the purchasing manager’s index (PMI) decreased during the month. In fact, the new orders index fell 4.3 points to its lowest level since the 1980 recession—27.9. Perhaps the most dramatic decrease in November was an 11.5 point drop in the prices index to 25.5, its lowest reading since 1949. The prices index—which has plummeted from a recent high of 91.5 in July—is a nonseasonally adjusted index that does not factor into the overall PMI, but does measure prices paid by manufacturers.
  • 12.01.2008
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending decreased 1.2 percemt in October, as residential construction fell 3.5 percent, and nonresidential construction fell 0.1 percent. On the private side total spending was down 2.0 percent, while residential and nonresidential were down 3.5 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. Total private construction spending in August and September was revised up 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. Even with the significant revision private construction spending is down 9.9 percent over the last year, as residential construction is off 24.9 percent and nonresidential construction is up 7.9 percent.