Thursday, February 26, 2009

U.S. Slump Getting Worse

While Australia is doing fine for now, the same certainly can't be said of the U.S. The 3 numbers released today said:

-Durable goods orders fell another 5.2% and are now down 26.4% in the last 12 months. Specifically, "core capital goods" orders fell 5.4% and are down 20.2%. This suggest that actual capital spending, as measured in the "core capital goods" shipments will fall further as they are down "only" 11.1% compared to a year earlier. On a monthly bases, they fell 6.6% and will almost certainly fall further in coming months. This means that we could see a really dramatic decline in the "equipment and software" component of business investment, at least 20% at an annual rate, but possibly as much as 30%.

-Both initial and continuing jobless benefit claims rose to new highs, both with regard to the weekly numbers and the 4-week averages.

-New home sales plunged more than 10% compared to the previous month and 48% compared to 12 months earlier to reach the lowest level ever since records began in 1963. While inventories fell in absolut numbers, they reached a new high relative to sales. This happened despite a 17.6% decline in the average price.

Not only does the slump show no sign of ending or even abating, the rate of decline is actually accelerating now. Some argue that because of higher money supply growth (more on that in a later post), we will see a recovery later this year. That might happen, though it is first of all not certain as it might simply mean higher price inflation and secondly, it is not likely to be sustainable.


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