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January 15, 2021 | “Seasonal Adjustments” of Retail Sales Gone Awry in Weirdest Economy Ever? Americans Cut Back

Retail sales in December fell for the third month in a row, on a “seasonally adjusted” basis, down 0.7% from November, to $541 billion, and down 2.1% from the peak in September, according to the Census Bureau this morning. And even without restaurants and bars – many of which were shut down in December – […]

January 8, 2021 | Update on the WTF Collapse of Gasoline & Jet Fuel Consumption: The Holiday Period

During the holiday shopping and travel period in December and early January, ten months into the Pandemic, gasoline consumption in the US was down about 12% from a year ago, jet fuel consumption was down 38% from a year ago, but distillate consumption – diesel, heating oil, fuel oil – was about flat with a […]

December 28, 2020 | The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America: December Update on House Price Inflation Gone Wild

Prices of single-family houses jumped 8.4% in the US, the biggest year-over-year jump since March 2014, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for October, released today. The index is based on the “sales pairs” method, comparing the price of a house that sold in the current month to the price of the same house […]

December 23, 2020 | Majestic Overshoot of Stimulus Money Ended. Faced with Second Wave, Americans Cut Back, Even on Durable Goods

Consumers are starting to run out of artificial steam. The free Pandemic money has been dropping for months and in November nearly faded out. For the first time since April, consumers spent less all around; they spent less on services, nondurable goods, and even on durable goods, which had been spiking in astounding manner. Personal […]

December 16, 2020 | Where Americans Splurged & Where They Cut Back in 13 Whiplash-Charts

Retail sales in November fell 1.1% from October, the second month in a row of declines, and they even fell with restaurants and bars removed from the total. Sales at nonstore retailers, the placeholder for ecommerce, eked out a new record. This is the second month now of what I called a month ago Stimulus […]

December 10, 2020 | The State of American Used Cars & Trucks: Amazing Charts of a Market Gone Haywire and Now in Process of “Normalizing”

The used vehicle market – retail and wholesale – has gone through some history-making gyrations this year, and those gyrations are now being unwound. In the Good Times, about 40 million used vehicles were sold wholesale and retail per year. This year will be quite a bit below that. In November, sales lost more ground. […]

December 3, 2020 | Here Comes the Trucking Boom in the Weirdest Economy Ever

Boom and bust cycles are guaranteed in this business. And now, this is the Weirdest Economy Ever, powered by the $3 trillion the Fed threw at the markets, and by $3 trillion in government stimulus and bailout spending, and by a huge shift to work-from-home and learning-at-home that required all kinds of spending on laptops, […]

November 24, 2020 | The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America: Nov. Update

House prices jumped 7.0% across the US, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index released today. Other indices have indicated similar price surges. House prices are going nuts despite a terrible economy. They’re being fired up by low interest rates, $3 trillion in liquidity that the Fed threw at the markets, fear of inflation that […]

November 13, 2020 | Volkswagen to Throw $86 Billion at EVs over 5 Years. GM, Ford, Others Plow Mega-Bucks into Shift to EVs. Tesla Instigated It

Volkswagen A.G. – which is in a perennial struggle with Toyota over the crown of being the largest automaker in the world – has gotten the memo a few years ago, after its dreams of diesel domination collapsed into Diesel Gate: The future is going to be EVs. And every year, the company budgets evermore […]

November 4, 2020 | Sales of New Cars & Trucks Through October Fell by 2.4 Million Vehicles, to 1985 Levels. Back to the Future

In October, eight months into the Pandemic, new-vehicle sales in the US recovered roughly, or not quite, to last year’s October level, depending on how the estimate is done — now that we have to rely on estimates — but left the huge hole intact. The Big Three US automakers stopped reporting actual monthly new-vehicle […]

October 31, 2020 | Do We Really Need More Stimulus to Print More Millionaires & Billionaires, Enrich Fraudsters, Balloon the Trade Deficit? Consumer Data Says, “No We Don’t”

Weirdest economy ever, powered by stimulus money, and the now expired extra unemployment money, and money from rents-and-mortgage-payments-not-made, and money from cash-out mortgage refis of at record low interest rates. And folks “in aggregate” – all mixed together, with all inequalities papered over – are spending record amounts on goods, a lot of which are […]

October 23, 2020 | Housing Market Goes Nuts, Everyone Sees it, But it Can’t Last

Another batch of crazy housing data yesterday. Crazy in the sense that the housing market, or rather part of it, namely the higher end of it, has gone totally crazy and that by now everyone knows that this isn’t “sustainable,” that “there’s no way it can last forever,” as Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman told CNBC. […]

October 13, 2020 | Crazy Times Not Only for Consumers Trying to Buy a Used Car but also for Dealers Grappling with the Distortions

Prices of used cars and trucks have been on one heck of a crazy ride since the Pandemic started, with the market freezing up in March and April, and then heating up, with prices soaring but with demand and sales volume still not back where it was before the Pandemic. This – what would normally […]

October 9, 2020 | Microsoft Offers Permanent Work-from-Home Option with Pay-Cuts if Employees Move to Cheaper Cities or Countries

Microsoft became the latest company to officially build work-from-home as a permanent feature and benefit into its model – a “hybrid workplace,” as it calls it, which seems to be where this is heading for companies with office employees and enough tech savvy to pull it off. But that excludes a lot of companies too. […]

October 4, 2020 | Commercial Real Estate Office Sector Crushed by Work-from-Home, Tsunami of Supply in Q3: Manhattan, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles

In the third quarter 2020, the commercial real estate segment of office space in Houston, Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles – each representing a different area of the US with different economic dynamics – has gotten hit hard by the stunning shift to work-from-home (WFH) and the sudden corporate realization that, after years […]

September 23, 2020 | “Robinhood Traders” Trigger Massive Idiocy on Scheme by Nasdaq-Listed Chinese Penny Stock that Skyrocketed 4,387% & Collapsed by Two-Thirds in Just One Day

The Nasdaq might be down 12% from its high on September 2, and Apple might be down 21% from its high on September 1. But the day-trader nuttiness – the new technical terms is “Robinhood traders” though they may trade on any platform, not just on Robinhood – isn’t letting up, and hedge funds might […]

September 13, 2020 | Subprime Auto-Loan Delinquencies, Loan Deferrals & Stimulus Curdle into Curious Phenomenon

OK, get this: At a time when there are 29.6 million people claiming state or federal unemployment insurance because they lost their work in the worst economy of a lifetime, subprime auto-loan delinquencies, which in the past had spiked during much smaller labor market downturns, are doing the opposite: they’re dropping. Meaning, since April, people […]

September 6, 2020 | The Wild Ride of the Giant 5 Stocks (APPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, FB) v. the Rest of the Market

Over the last two trading days, Thursday and Friday, the Giant 5 stocks combined fell by 7.4% in value. The Nasdaq dropped 6.2% over those two days. For Apple, the most giant of them all, the selloff started on Wednesday: Apple [AAPL]: -7.9% in 2 days; in 3 days: -9.9%, or -$226 billion. Alphabet [GOOG]: […]

August 25, 2020 | “Pent-up Supply” in San Francisco Turns into Record Glut of Houses & Condos for Sale. Prices Weaken

We’re going to look at San Francisco’s housing market in two ways: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index released today, which lags months behind but provides good price-movement data for houses and condos; and near-real-time indicators. First the near-real-time indicators: “Active listings” in San Francisco skyrocketed by 137% year-over-year to 1,995 homes for sale in the […]

August 21, 2020 | Shell’s Colossal Miscalculation in 2011 of Today’s LNG Price: Largest-Ever $12-$17-Billion “Floating Facility” Shut Down, Months After Shipping First LNG. Done in by Long Price Collapse

The Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011 triggered a series of events at the Fukushima power plant that led to catastrophic meltdowns in three of its six reactors, which led Japan to take the remaining of its 54 operating reactors offline, as a new regulatory and safety regime was established for […]

August 14, 2020 | Fired up by Stimulus Money & Debt Deferrals, Americans Went Shopping. But Where? How Life Changed During the Pandemic

Retail sales by category of retailer show how Americans have adjusted to the Pandemic and to a very peculiar financial situation. Spending was supported by stimulus money that included the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits. A study by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago found that two-thirds […]

August 9, 2020 | The State of the American Debt-Slaves Q2 2020: The Credit Card Phenomenon

OK, as I mentioned on Friday, things are a little crazy in the consumer-debt arena at the moment: No Payment, No Problem: Bizarre New World of Consumer Debt. But there is another aspect to it – that of the American debt-slaves themselves. And there are all kinds of things happening. Consumer debt – student loans, […]

August 1, 2020 | Average Age of Cars & Trucks on the Road Sets Record, Will Jump During Pandemic as New-Vehicle Sales Plunge to 1970s Level

The average age of passenger cars and trucks on the road in the US – light “vehicles in operation” or VIO – rose to another record of 11.9 years in 2020, according to IHS Markit. But this doesn’t yet include the effects of the Pandemic on the auto industry. We’ll get to that in a […]

July 24, 2020 | Shift from Condos to Houses and from Big Cities to Suburbs? New House Sales Rose 6.9% fr. June Last Year, to Highest Level since July 2007

Sales of new single-family houses (based on signed contracts) rose 6.9% in June, compared to June last year, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales of 776,000 houses, according to the Commerce Department this morning. It was a hair above January’s 774,000, having recovered all of the plunge during February, March, and April — […]

July 14, 2020 | It Starts: Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace

OK, it’s actually worse. Mortgages that are in forbearance and have not missed a payment before going into forbearance don’t count as delinquent. They’re reported as “current.” And 8.2% of all mortgages in the US – or 4.1 million loans – are currently in forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But if they did […]

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