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US GDP Soared In Q4 To 6.9% Despite Omicron, Driven By Huge Inventory Accumulation

US GDP Soared In Q4 To 6.9% Despite Omicron, Driven By Huge Inventory Accumulation

With attention increasingly turning to how fast the economic slowdown will hit the US economy in 2022, growth cheerleaders will have a favorable, if brief,…

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US GDP Soared In Q4 To 6.9% Despite Omicron, Driven By Huge Inventory Accumulation

With attention increasingly turning to how fast the economic slowdown will hit the US economy in 2022, growth cheerleaders will have a favorable, if brief, diversion today courtesy of the Bureau of Economic Analysis which moments ago revealed that in Q4, US GDP grew at a remarkable 6.9% annualized Q/Q clip, nearly three times faster than the 2.3% growth recorded in Q3 and well above the 5.5% expectation, even if the components of GDP are an ominous confirmation that the US is engaging in aggressive restocking which could soon lead to a deflationary liquidation wave.

According to the BEA, the acceleration in the fourth quarter was led by an upturn in exports as well as accelerations in inventory investment and consumer spending. In the fourth quarter, COVID-19 cases resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in the operations of establishments in some parts of the country. Government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households all decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off.

As shown in the chart below, the fourth quarter increase in real GDP primarily reflected increases in inventory investment, exports, consumer spending, and business investment that were partly offset by decreases inboth federal and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

A detailed breakdown reveals the following:

  • Personal consumption rose 2.25% in Q4, up from 1.35% in Q3. The increase in consumer spending primarily reflected an increase in services (led by health care, recreation, and transportation). Consumer spending for goods also increased (led by recreational goods and vehicles).
  • Change in private inventories added a whopping 4.90% to GDP, up from 2.2% in Q3, a huge increase which accounted for over 70% of the bottom line 6.9% GDP print. The increase in inventory investment primarily reflected increases in retail (led by motor vehicle and parts dealers) and wholesale (led by durable goods industries).
  • Fixed Investment contributed 0.25% to the bottom line, also an improvement from the -0.16% detraction in Q3. The increase in business investment primarily reflected an increase in intellectual property products (led by software as well as research and development) that was partly offset by a decrease in structures (led by commercial and health care).
  • Net Exports were a wash, with exports adding 2.43% to GDP while imports subtracting -2.43%, perfectly offsetting each other for a net contribution of 0%. The increase in exports reflected increases in both goods (led by nondurable goods) and services (led by travel).
  • Government spending declined, leading to a -0.51% subtraction from the bottom line GDP. The decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in defense spending on intermediate goods and services (led by services). The decrease in state and local government spending reflected decreasesin consumption expenditures (led by compensation of state and local government employees, notably education) and in gross investment (led by new educational structures).

Of the above, the surge in private inventories was most remarkable: as shown below, Q4 saw the 2nd highest inventory restocking on record (although one wouldn't know it by looking at all those bare shelves).

In other words, the inventory restocking process is now running red hot - even if many won't notice it on the shelves of their favorite retailer - and in future quarters will likely lead to further declines in GDP, which is a problem for a Fed preparing to hike "5 or 6" times in 2022.

Elsewhere, the GDP price index rose 6.9% in 4Q after rising 6.0% prior quarter, and higher than the 6.0% expected, while the Fed's favorite inflation metric, Core PCE q/q rose 4.9% in 4Q in line with expectations, after rising 4.6% in the prior quarter, as inflation keeps rising.  Energy prices increased 40.7 percent in the fourth quarter while food prices increased 9.2 percent. Excluding food and energy, prices increased 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter after increasing 5.1 percent in the third quarter.

Finally, on a full year basis, real GDP increased 5.7% (from the 2020 annual level to the 2021 annual level), in contrast to a decrease of 3.4% in 2020. The increase reflected increases in all major subcomponents: consumer spending, business investment, exports, housing investment, and inventory investment. Imports increased.

Bottom line: this was a strong number, but peeking between the lines reveals that it was a very low quality print, one driven almost entirely by a surge in inventories. If and when this restocking reverses, not only will it subtract from GDP but will have a sharply deflationary effect as liquidations kick in.

And while the US economy closed on a high note, it's all downhill from here, with sellside expectations for Q1 2022 looking much more ominous, somewhere in the 2% range, a number which we expect will continue sliding over the next 2 months potentially turning negative some time around the March FOMC.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/27/2022 - 08:53

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Homes listed for sale in early June sell for $7,700 more

New Zillow research suggests the spring home shopping season may see a second wave this summer if mortgage rates fall
The post Homes listed for sale in…

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  • A Zillow analysis of 2023 home sales finds homes listed in the first two weeks of June sold for 2.3% more. 
  • The best time to list a home for sale is a month later than it was in 2019, likely driven by mortgage rates.
  • The best time to list can be as early as the second half of February in San Francisco, and as late as the first half of July in New York and Philadelphia. 

Spring home sellers looking to maximize their sale price may want to wait it out and list their home for sale in the first half of June. A new Zillow® analysis of 2023 sales found that homes listed in the first two weeks of June sold for 2.3% more, a $7,700 boost on a typical U.S. home.  

The best time to list consistently had been early May in the years leading up to the pandemic. The shift to June suggests mortgage rates are strongly influencing demand on top of the usual seasonality that brings buyers to the market in the spring. This home-shopping season is poised to follow a similar pattern as that in 2023, with the potential for a second wave if the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates midyear or later. 

The 2.3% sale price premium registered last June followed the first spring in more than 15 years with mortgage rates over 6% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The high rates put home buyers on the back foot, and as rates continued upward through May, they were still reassessing and less likely to bid boldly. In June, however, rates pulled back a little from 6.79% to 6.67%, which likely presented an opportunity for determined buyers heading into summer. More buyers understood their market position and could afford to transact, boosting competition and sale prices.

The old logic was that sellers could earn a premium by listing in late spring, when search activity hit its peak. Now, with persistently low inventory, mortgage rate fluctuations make their own seasonality. First-time home buyers who are on the edge of qualifying for a home loan may dip in and out of the market, depending on what’s happening with rates. It is almost certain the Federal Reserve will push back any interest-rate cuts to mid-2024 at the earliest. If mortgage rates follow, that could bring another surge of buyers later this year.

Mortgage rates have been impacting affordability and sale prices since they began rising rapidly two years ago. In 2022, sellers nationwide saw the highest sale premium when they listed their home in late March, right before rates barreled past 5% and continued climbing. 

Zillow’s research finds the best time to list can vary widely by metropolitan area. In 2023, it was as early as the second half of February in San Francisco, and as late as the first half of July in New York. Thirty of the top 35 largest metro areas saw for-sale listings command the highest sale prices between May and early July last year. 

Zillow also found a wide range in the sale price premiums associated with homes listed during those peak periods. At the hottest time of the year in San Jose, homes sold for 5.5% more, a $88,000 boost on a typical home. Meanwhile, homes in San Antonio sold for 1.9% more during that same time period.  

 

Metropolitan Area Best Time to List Price Premium Dollar Boost
United States First half of June 2.3% $7,700
New York, NY First half of July 2.4% $15,500
Los Angeles, CA First half of May 4.1% $39,300
Chicago, IL First half of June 2.8% $8,800
Dallas, TX First half of June 2.5% $9,200
Houston, TX Second half of April 2.0% $6,200
Washington, DC Second half of June 2.2% $12,700
Philadelphia, PA First half of July 2.4% $8,200
Miami, FL First half of June 2.3% $12,900
Atlanta, GA Second half of June 2.3% $8,700
Boston, MA Second half of May 3.5% $23,600
Phoenix, AZ First half of June 3.2% $14,700
San Francisco, CA Second half of February 4.2% $50,300
Riverside, CA First half of May 2.7% $15,600
Detroit, MI First half of July 3.3% $7,900
Seattle, WA First half of June 4.3% $31,500
Minneapolis, MN Second half of May 3.7% $13,400
San Diego, CA Second half of April 3.1% $29,600
Tampa, FL Second half of June 2.1% $8,000
Denver, CO Second half of May 2.9% $16,900
Baltimore, MD First half of July 2.2% $8,200
St. Louis, MO First half of June 2.9% $7,000
Orlando, FL First half of June 2.2% $8,700
Charlotte, NC Second half of May 3.0% $11,000
San Antonio, TX First half of June 1.9% $5,400
Portland, OR Second half of April 2.6% $14,300
Sacramento, CA First half of June 3.2% $17,900
Pittsburgh, PA Second half of June 2.3% $4,700
Cincinnati, OH Second half of April 2.7% $7,500
Austin, TX Second half of May 2.8% $12,600
Las Vegas, NV First half of June 3.4% $14,600
Kansas City, MO Second half of May 2.5% $7,300
Columbus, OH Second half of June 3.3% $10,400
Indianapolis, IN First half of July 3.0% $8,100
Cleveland, OH First half of July  3.4% $7,400
San Jose, CA First half of June 5.5% $88,400

 

The post Homes listed for sale in early June sell for $7,700 more appeared first on Zillow Research.

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Survey Shows Declining Concerns Among Americans About COVID-19

Survey Shows Declining Concerns Among Americans About COVID-19

A new survey reveals that only 20% of Americans view covid-19 as "a major threat"…

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Survey Shows Declining Concerns Among Americans About COVID-19

A new survey reveals that only 20% of Americans view covid-19 as "a major threat" to the health of the US population - a sharp decline from a high of 67% in July 2020.

(SARMDY/Shutterstock)

What's more, the Pew Research Center survey conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 11 showed that just 10% of Americans are concerned that they will  catch the disease and require hospitalization.

"This data represents a low ebb of public concern about the virus that reached its height in the summer and fall of 2020, when as many as two-thirds of Americans viewed COVID-19 as a major threat to public health," reads the report, which was published March 7.

According to the survey, half of the participants understand the significance of researchers and healthcare providers in understanding and treating long COVID - however 27% of participants consider this issue less important, while 22% of Americans are unaware of long COVID.

What's more, while Democrats were far more worried than Republicans in the past, that gap has narrowed significantly.

"In the pandemic’s first year, Democrats were routinely about 40 points more likely than Republicans to view the coronavirus as a major threat to the health of the U.S. population. This gap has waned as overall levels of concern have fallen," reads the report.

More via the Epoch Times;

The survey found that three in ten Democrats under 50 have received an updated COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 66 percent of Democrats ages 65 and older.

Moreover, 66 percent of Democrats ages 65 and older have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine, while only 24 percent of Republicans ages 65 and older have done so.

“This 42-point partisan gap is much wider now than at other points since the start of the outbreak. For instance, in August 2021, 93 percent of older Democrats and 78 percent of older Republicans said they had received all the shots needed to be fully vaccinated (a 15-point gap),” it noted.

COVID-19 No Longer an Emergency

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued its updated recommendations for the virus, which no longer require people to stay home for five days after testing positive for COVID-19.

The updated guidance recommends that people who contracted a respiratory virus stay home, and they can resume normal activities when their symptoms improve overall and their fever subsides for 24 hours without medication.

“We still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses, this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick,” CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a statement.

The CDC said that while the virus remains a threat, it is now less likely to cause severe illness because of widespread immunity and improved tools to prevent and treat the disease.

Importantly, states and countries that have already adjusted recommended isolation times have not seen increased hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19,” it stated.

The federal government suspended its free at-home COVID-19 test program on March 8, according to a website set up by the government, following a decrease in COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

According to the CDC, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 and influenza diseases remain “elevated” but are decreasing in some parts of the United States.

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/10/2024 - 22:45

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Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run – Musk Says “I Would Support”

Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run – Musk Says "I Would Support"

Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Friday hinted that he may jump…

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Rand Paul Teases Senate GOP Leader Run - Musk Says "I Would Support"

Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Friday hinted that he may jump into the race to become the next Senate GOP leader, and Elon Musk was quick to support the idea. Republicans must find a successor for periodically malfunctioning Mitch McConnell, who recently announced he'll step down in November, though intending to keep his Senate seat until his term ends in January 2027, when he'd be within weeks of turning 86. 

So far, the announced field consists of two quintessential establishment types: John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota. While John Barrasso's name had been thrown around as one of "The Three Johns" considered top contenders, the Wyoming senator on Tuesday said he'll instead seek the number two slot as party whip. 

Paul used X to tease his potential bid for the position which -- if the GOP takes back the upper chamber in November -- could graduate from Minority Leader to Majority Leader. He started by telling his 5.1 million followers he'd had lots of people asking him about his interest in running...

...then followed up with a poll in which he predictably annihilated Cornyn and Thune, taking a 96% share as of Friday night, with the other two below 2% each. 

Elon Musk was quick to back the idea of Paul as GOP leader, while daring Cornyn and Thune to follow Paul's lead by throwing their names out for consideration by the Twitter-verse X-verse. 

Paul has been a stalwart opponent of security-state mass surveillance, foreign interventionism -- to include shoveling billions of dollars into the proxy war in Ukraine -- and out-of-control spending in general. He demonstrated the latter passion on the Senate floor this week as he ridiculed the latest kick-the-can spending package:   

In February, Paul used Senate rules to force his colleagues into a grueling Super Bowl weekend of votes, as he worked to derail a $95 billion foreign aid bill. "I think we should stay here as long as it takes,” said Paul. “If it takes a week or a month, I’ll force them to stay here to discuss why they think the border of Ukraine is more important than the US border.”

Don't expect a Majority Leader Paul to ditch the filibuster -- he's been a hardy user of the legislative delay tactic. In 2013, he spoke for 13 hours to fight the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. In 2015, he orated for 10-and-a-half-hours to oppose extension of the Patriot Act

Rand Paul amid his 10 1/2 hour filibuster in 2015

Among the general public, Paul is probably best known as Capitol Hill's chief tormentor of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease during the Covid-19 pandemic. Paul says the evidence indicates the virus emerged from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology. He's accused Fauci and other members of the US government public health apparatus of evading questions about their funding of the Chinese lab's "gain of function" research, which takes natural viruses and morphs them into something more dangerous. Paul has pointedly said that Fauci committed perjury in congressional hearings and that he belongs in jail "without question."   

Musk is neither the only nor the first noteworthy figure to back Paul for party leader. Just hours after McConnell announced his upcoming step-down from leadership, independent 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr voiced his support: 

In a testament to the extent to which the establishment recoils at the libertarian-minded Paul, mainstream media outlets -- which have been quick to report on other developments in the majority leader race -- pretended not to notice that Paul had signaled his interest in the job. More than 24 hours after Paul's test-the-waters tweet-fest began, not a single major outlet had brought it to the attention of their audience. 

That may be his strongest endorsement yet. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/10/2024 - 20:25

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