Everything You Need to Know About Shale Gas
Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
One interesting factoid from today's CPI report:
The number of loaded export containers leaving the Los Angeles Port in November for overseas destinations reached a record high of 195,877 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), beating the previous record of 193,547 TEUs in October (see chart above). November exports this year are running 15% ahead of the same month last year, and above the previous month by 1.2%. Loaded import containers in October were 6.2% above the year earlier level.
The Department of Labor reported today that seasonally-adjusted jobless claims fell to 366,000 for the week ending December 10, which is the lowest level since May 2008, three and-a-half years ago. That was far below the increase to 390,000 claims that was expected by the market consensus, and another indication that the sub-par labor market is gradually improving. The four-week moving average for weekly claims fell to 387,750, the lowest level since July 2008 (see chart above).
The chart above shows the ongoing de-leveraging of U.S. households based on new data released yesterday by the Federal Reserve.
"The case for Newt is that he's nothing like that guy who used to be governor of Massachusetts. The case for Romney is very similar."
Here's an eBay listing for 1.5 kg of butter (about 3.3 pounds) to be shipped from Germany to Norway for $67 plus $21.50 shipping. Buyer is responsible for Norway's import duty of about $4.25 per kg. ($6.38 total), for a total cost of about $95 for 3.3 pounds of butter, or about $29 per pound. And shipping takes 7-8 days, so the Norwegians better order soon to get their German butter in time for holiday baking.
As a result of the perfect storm of: a) a craze for a popular "fat-rich, low-carb" weight-loss diet, b) a shortage of animal feed that caused a drop in milk production, c) a butter monopoly that controls 90 per cent of the butter supply and d) is protected from foreign competition by trade barriers that prohibit imports from European countries, there is now a butter shortage in Norway as the festive baking season approaches.
The chart above shows another measure of housing affordability over time by displaying the monthly mortgage payments (adjusted for inflation) for a median-priced new home (Census data here) financed at the prevailing 30-year mortgage rate in each month back to January 1978, assuming a 20% down payment. Payments today for a $212,300 median-price new home purchased in October with a 20% down payment and a 4.07% fixed-rate 30-year mortgage would be $817.71, the lowest in the history of this series back to 1978. It's only been since 2009 that payments have remained mostly below $1,000 per month, and the October payment is about 38% below the average of $1,375 per month over the last 33 years.
The chart above shows the National Association of Realtors' monthly housing affordability index back to January of 1981 (data here). The historical trend over the last 30 years is pretty striking for several reasons:
The Census Bureau reported today on third quarter financial results for the U.S. manufacturing sector, with the following highlights:
Current Intrade odds have Romney's chances down to 40.2% and Gingrich's chances up to 36.5%, which is the smallest-ever Romney-Gingrich gap at 3.7%.