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When Tech Diverges...

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The stock market has been on a tear. Despite a global pandemic reemerging in the second half of the year, investors seem to be okay with buying on expectations of an improvement in the economy in 2021 because that seems to be the only real reason for bulls to win out in the market. Unemployment is still at excessive levels with more than 700,000 claims for unemployment being filed every week (though continued claims are slowly edging lower). The bounce in output growth was strong over the summer but momentum seems to be slowing in retail sales, manufacturing, and industrial output. Despite this, indexes reach all-time highs. That is even more so true for the Nasdaq which has rocketed past its pre-pandemic highs. The index tracking the top tech companies seems to have left the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the dust. Based on trading from February 24th to November 27th, the Dow and the S&P 500 have grown 6.97% and 12.79% while the Nasdaq has surged 32.37%. Some

Health Insurance Data: 2019 Update

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In the upcoming election season, Democrats and Republicans will continue to go head to head over various hot button topics as they jostle for control of the White House and Congress. Healthcare will be one of those topics primed for debate amongst candidates as discussions over "Medicare for All" continue to take center stage. In those debates, potential voters will hear the latest data rattled off as candidates look to bolster their talking points. Those data points will likely come from the Census Bureau's latest edition of the "Health Insurance Coverage in the United States" report which highlights their 2019 findings. Here are some highlights.  The number most likely to be taken from this report is the total number of individuals without health insurance in 2019, and it's a lot more complicated than just a number. The Census Bureau cites two different numbers from two different surveys in the report, the Current Population Survey 2020 Annual Social and E

Can Real Estate Supply Keep Up with Hot Demand?

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Economic Report Monitor #59 August 14th, 2020 New residential figures for July came out and provided a fresh but of optimism for a strong economic recovery. Housing starts jumped 22.6% in July, another huge bounce, leading to a July total 23.4% higher than last year. The 1.496 million unit starts that beat expectations of 1.24 million heavily.  It was multifamily home units that carried the number in July with a 56.7% increase in that category to 547,000 units. The number is the strongest since January 2020 (619,000 units) and is 67.8% higher than a year ago. Single-family homes were up just 8.2% to 940,000 units, slightly lagging the 1,034,000 units in February. Since single-family homes are typically more in demand, it's slightly concerning to see that category lag the overall trend. Single-family home demand recovery is stronger than supply recovery The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index report pointed to hot demand for single-family homes coming out of the bottom of the C

Consumer Spending Looks Strong Despite Pandemic

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Economic Report Monitor #59 August 14th, 2020 Retail sales in July confirmed what most people were expecting. The economic recovery has slowed with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases stalling reopening processes. Overall, sales increased just 1.2% after they surged 8.4% in June and failed to meet expectations of 2.3% that economists surveyed by Dow Jones suggested . Despite growth being muted in July, sales for the first 7 months of 2020 are down just -2.1% from the same period in 2019. Excluding motor vehicles & parts and gasoline stations, that number is actually 0.2% higher. From CNBC Motor vehicles & parts also dragged July retail sales lower with a -1.2% drop for the month. Retail sales without that category were 1.9% and closer to expectations. Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealer also dragged sales with a -2.9% drop itself. Furniture stores were flat at 0.0%. These numbers might point to further pain for durable goods categories which was most inte

COVID-19 Unemployment Still Elevated but Mostly Temporary

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Economic Report Monitor #58 August 7th, 2020 Following the disappointing number on Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistic's official report of the employment situation came out today. In a similar fashion, the BLS report showed a slower recovery in July as only 1.8 million jobs were added with the unemployment rate falling just 0.9% to 10.2%. While this beat expectations of about 1.6 million, it confirmed that a V-shaped recovery in the labor market is unlikely to materialize. From MarketWatch The number of unemployed individuals dropped by just 1.4 million to 16.3 million but is still up by about 10.6 million since February. Most of the COVID-19 losses remain as the number of individuals that have been jobless for 15 to 26 weeks rose by 4.6 million to total 6.5 million. Fresh job losses that occurred in the last 5 weeks are about 3.2 million, with just 364,000 added in July, suggesting the contraction in employment has slowed significantly. Most of the job additions were tempo

ADP Employment Disappoints, But Small Businesses Notch Jobs Gain

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Economic Report Monitor #57 August 5th, 2020 The first of the jobs numbers came out today for July as the ADP Employment Report  was released before the market opened. The number largely disappointed with an increase of 167,000 in private payrolls, well below the June reading of 4.314 million and the expected number for July of 1.5 million. Based on the report, it seems that the resurgence of cases has influenced reopening processes to slow and in some cases stop completely. Larger companies lead the gains adding 129,000 jobs in July with medium businesses shedding -25,000 and small businesses adding 63,000. Small businesses probably only outperformed medium businesses because reopening processes are likely favoring operations with small numbers of employees working at a time. Businesses with only 1-19 employees, typically the most economically sensitive, added 45,000 jobs, the second-most behind businesses with 1,000+ at 111,000. The sectors that added the most jobs were in the servi

Breaking Down the Worst Quarterly GDP Decline in US History

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Economic Report Monitor #56 July 30th, 2020 From FRED The long-awaited 2020 Q2 GDP came out today after months of deliberation on how the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown would initially impact the economy. Consensus estimates suggested that 2020 Q2 GDP would fall about -34% from the previous quarter in the largest drop in economic output in history. The official advance estimate came in at -32.9% just above expectations but still the worst quarterly GDP data point ever reported. Stocks saw mixed reactions as the Dow (-0.85%) and the S&P 500 (-0.38%) finished lower while the Nasdaq (0.43%) actually saw a gain. The 10-year Treasury yield dropped back to its low near 0.55% as investors continued to move away from risk. Personal consumption, which has been a strong driver of GDP growth in the past, tanked -34.6% in the second quarter with service spending seeing the largest drop at -43.5%. Goods expenditures fared slightly better at -11.3% as the goods economy adjusted to the new C