Away: Applications for new (down 13% w/w) and refinanced (down 20% w/w) mortgages continue their steep drop. Re-fi's are at their lowest level since mid-2009. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are now at 4.80% for 20% down buyers. The data make swallowing the idea of a big housing recovery rather difficult. Home prices are up more than 25% across the nation and nearly 40% in a few cities. The increase in prices and in mortgage rates means that payments on a house today in these cities will be nearly 50% more than payments on the same house a year ago. Can you say 'bubble'?
Snowflakes/Winter: Okay, the Department of Labor just released its latest report on weekly unemployment insurance claims. jobless claims plunged to 292,000, which was 12% lower than the 330,000 expected by economists. this is the lowest level since April 2006. Butski: two states made computer system changes that resulted in incorrect data being reported. Expect a quiet but significant upward revision next week.
Shut Up And Deal: The IMF says Spain - where unemployment is over 28% and expected to remain there for another 5 years - has no option but to stimulate growth and job creation by beggaring the population even further. The Fund’s proposal is for agreement between all involved to accept 10% wage reductions in return for a promise of lower prices someday soon. The proposal will be dismissed out of hand by the people in the street. And in Spain, people do turn out; in Catalonia on Wednesday, more than a million people (out of a population of only 7.5 million) turned out to form a 250-mile human chain across the region to advocate independence from the central state. After suffering the tender attentions of the IMF and the ECB, Greece's unemployment has gotten worse, now at 27.9%, with those
The Times They Are A-Changin': The Pope is broadening the brand, saying that God will love you and let you into heaven even if you don't believe in God - as long as your atheism is sincere and you follow your conscience. And a papal spokesman says that the
Casus Belli: The French have intercepted a ship carrying 20 tons of
Leaderslip: Funding for US government operations expires on Sept. 30. The Republican House leadership says defunding the Affordable Care Act is a precondition for passing a spending bill. And about 80 House Republicans view this as too conciliatory and want other entitlement programs such as Food Stamps cut, too. And none of this nonsense could pass the Senate, so it's all for show anyhow. But the shutting down of the government is not. Then, about November 1st, comes the debt limit showdown, in which the Republicans want to force the US Treasury to stop paying the bills that they, the House ran up.
Oh, I Knew That: If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be about $10/hr today. If it had kept up with the productivity growth of US workers, it would be $18.
Everybody Knows: After twelve years of thrashing about North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to little avail, it has long since become obvious that we have no idea how to fight terrorism. Not a clue.
It's The New South - Same As The Old South: In Florida you can be beaten, arrested and threatened with a Taser for walking
The Parting Shot: