27 December 2007

Economic update

Nouriel Roubini sees the following signs of an upcoming recession (I consider them to be signs of a current recession, but I'm not an economist):
  • Initial unemployment claims at 2001 recession level.
  • Durable and capital goods orders falling.
  • Consumer confidence down.
  • Oil prices closer to $100 than to $90/bbl.
  • Retail sales falling after accounting for inflation.
  • Residential real estate going down, and accellerating.
  • Commercial real estate starting down (more below).
  • Various leading indicators falling, as are corporate earnings.
  • Credit markets not only staying seized up, but getting even more seized up. (Dr. Roubins bullet points this out into about 5-7 items)
  • Unstable world environment.
In terms of more specific news, we have mortgage applications falling off a cliff, despite a rate cut, Fitch saying that it may downgrade residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) because the insurers for these bonds are basically insolvent, Goldman-Sachs is predicting that Citigroup may be forced to cut its divident (implying that there is more bad news to come), the Chinese Director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange saying that the US should not cut rates any more because it will "hammer" the dollar, there is increasing evidence that commercial real estate is starting to tank too (It typically lags residential real estate by about ½ year), and residential real estate prices have fall by 6.7% year over year (and at about an 11.7% rate for the past quarter).


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