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Say What?! That's Not What You Told Me Last Month

Revisions to Employment and Retail Sales and What They Mean

What's more exciting than the NCAA Final Four?

Data revisions! (well, not really, but for those of you who follow economic indicators closely, data revisions are important).

What Drives Consumer Spending?

First and foremost, income drives consumer spending; that's why the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis monthly release of income receives so much attention.

GDP Revised Up; Corporate Profits Bouncing Back

As GDP releases go, this one doesn't garner much attention because of the limited amount of new information. The new information that merits some discussion includes revisions and profits. First up, revisions. GDP growth was revised up from 2.8 percent at an annual rate to 3.1 percent. How large is the typical revision? 0.3 percentage point, so today's revision is of average size. Also, if you recall last month, the numbers were revised down by 0.4 percentage point. What does all of this mean?

Manufacturing Sector Expands in February's Advance Durable Goods Report

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released advance durable goods data for February 2011. The report contains a couple of noteworthy themes, one being that part of the manufacturing sector continues to expand (with the help of foreign demand), and another being that the pace of investment might be slowing some in the first quarter.

Corporate Profits and Industry Performance

A closely watched component of tomorrow's GDP release by the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will be corporate profits. Corporate profits receive lots of attention for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that corporate profits touch many of us through the linkage between profits (and future expected profits) and stock prices, as those stock prices affect the value of our 401k and other retirement plans.

Business Startups: Why Entrepreneurs Didn't Start Up in 2009 and Why That's Likely to Change

Today we're talking about newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau on new business starts, why new business startups dropped off so much in 2009, and the wide array of policy responses that have been deployed to boost entreprenuership going forward.

Growing Appetite for American-Made Goods Overseas

We hear a lot about our country's insatiable appetite for foreign-made goods. However, it is easy to forget that our trading partners also have an increasing appetite for American-made durable goods (where "durable goods" includes such things as computers, furniture, aircraft, machinery, ....). In fact, over the past decade, a growing share of our manufactured goods has been heading overseas.

Forecasters Expect Housing Activity to Rise in 2011-2012

On Wednesday, March 16th, the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau will release February data on housing starts and building permits. After experiencing a huge downturn, private forecasters expect housing activity to improve appreciably during 2011 and 2012. The Blue Chip consensus expects housing starts to increase about 13 percent during 2011 and an additional 30 percent during 2012.

Retail Sales: What A Gas

The bottom line from today's report on retail sales is that consumer spending continues to increase, even after a surge in spending late last year. February retail sales increased 1.0 percent and the increases in retail sales in the previous two months were revised upward. Taken together, the January-February average of retail sales rose 7.7 percent at an annual rate over the fourth quarter. Why are consumers spending more?

Exports Rise in First 2011 Report on Foreign Trade Balance

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services widened from $40.3 billion in December to $46.3 billion in January, a change that reflected a healthy increase in exports coupled with a really, really big increase in imports.  Let's talk about exports first. Exports rose 2.7 percent in January (an increase of $4.4 billion), and reached an all-time record (in nominal terms).


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