May 16, 2013

More REALLY Bad News: Housing Starts Down a Seasonally Adjusted 16.5% in April; March-April Drop in Actual Starts Is Worst Ever by Far (Also: Philly Fed Piles On)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:13 am

Just as building activity is supposed to pick up for the spring and summer, it’s not happening:

Housing starts slumped 16.5 percent, the most since February 2011, to an 853,000 annualized rate after a revised 1.02 million pace in March, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 970,000 rate.

That’s known in the business as a humongous miss.

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UPDATE: Looking at the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data at the Census Bureau, today’s reported drop from 84,500 starts in March to 76,700 units in April, a 9.2% decline, is the largest March-April falloff on record — by miles. Only two other years during the past 55 have seen March-April drops, and they were both less than 1,000 units.

You can almost bet the house that no one in the establishment press will report the disastrous raw numbers.

UPDATE 2: If you’re desperate for a silver lining, the single-family component of raw starts increased from 52,500 to 56,900, which is a decent increase, but certainly nothing special. This of course means that multiple-unit starts dropped by almost 40%.

UPDATE 3: Via Zero Hedge

Philly Fed (survey of business) did not disappoint (in creating another letdown), printing at -5.2, down from 1.3, and crushing expectations of an increase to +2.0 (coming below the lowest forecast), the biggest miss since February and confirming that the Empire Fed index plunge was not a fluke.

I don’t think we’ve seen a series of misses vs. expectations this big (unemployment, housing, and above) in almost five years.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Ouch — 360K SA; NSA Claims Down Only 2% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:58 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending May 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 360,000, an increase of 32,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 328,000. The 4-week moving average was 339,250, an increase of 1,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 338,000.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 318,203 in the week ending May 11, a decrease of 15,436 from the previous week. There were 325,094 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

This week’s seasonal adjustment factor was 88.4 compared to 87.1 for the same week a year ago.

If last year’s factor had been applied to this year’s raw claims, the seasonally adjusted result would have been 365,000 (318,023 divided by 87.1, rounded).

The median expectation per Bloomberg was 330,000. It’s just one week, but it’s certainly not good news.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (051613)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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Various Links, old and new:

At NewsBusters: “CNN’s Malveaux: White House Has Lost Some ‘Suport’ From Press Corps”

At NewsBusters: ABC did not cover the Gosnell trial until its verdict was announced. A Matt Drudge tweet: “Warning to reporters and sources: Assume all your communications are being monitored.”

Atlantic Wire: “Obama Tells Harvey Weinstein, Justin Timberlake to Blame Rush Limbaugh”

In case you missed it, Jon Corzine was sued by Louis Freeh almost a month ago.

From Reuters, almost a month ago, during which time nothing has changed: “Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown”

And they said nooooooobody would eeeeeever seriously propose this if same-sex “marriage” became legal: “Legalize Polygamy! No. I am not kidding.”

Positivity: Board game created by nun becomes a hit in Spain

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rome:

May 13, 2013 / 04:03 pm

A new faith-based board game created by a Spanish nun has become one of the most popular First Communion gifts in Spain this year.

Sister Maria Granados Molina created the new game, “The Joy of the Faith,” which tests players’ knowledge of Catholicism. The game’s publisher said 2,000 copies have been made since the game went on sale a few months ago, and there are hopes to market it in the United States and Latin America.

Thirty-five year-old Sr. Molina was born in Granada and belongs to a Carmelite order in the city of Cuenca. She works as a catechist for the Diocese of Cuenca.

In an interview with CNA, Sr. Molina said she never imagined the game would become so popular. She made the first version of the game at home with her own printer and the help “of the sisters from my congregation in Cuenca.”

“The Joy of the Faith” is intended to help players learn about Jesus and the experience of being a Christian. Players roll dice and answer questions about the Catholic faith to move along the spaces on the board. The game incorporates drawings, gestures and prayers.
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Sr. Molina debuted the game in Madrid last year during a conference on catechesis. It was picked up by a national distributor and made available later throughout the country.

“The game is the fruit of a desire, a concern and a prayer…and I think it has received a surprising reception. Nobody thought that with the way Spain is right now that a game like this would be a success,” she said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.