On the proliferation of pickpockets and pilferers

NPR's Marketplace checks in with a local private eye to gauge how the economic troubles are changing the dynamics of thievery. Now here's a growth industry.
Whenever you're paying maybe upwards of $20 for a can of formula in a store, it's pretty easy to sell at a flea market for $8 to $10 a can. And it's quick cash. It's quick profit for people. And they're not stealing it to provide for their family, they're stealing it because it's a way to make a living at the flea market.
Oct 20, 2009 10:41 AM

State unemployment falls slightly

Tennessee’s unemployment fell 0.2 percentage points in September, with professional services job growth outpacing retail job losses. However, 11,300 people left the state’s work force in the past month, meaning they were no longer counted in the jobless number.

Oct 15, 2009 3:54 PM

'A little less cautious' versus 'Crash for clunkers'

September retail sales came in better than expected, but opinions vary widely about where the consumer — and hence the economy — goes from here. Phil Izzo at the Journal collects some thoughts that span the spectrum.
While it looks like Wall Street employees will have the cash to buy holiday gifts, the country is a lot bigger and today’s retail sales give some pause to the notion that the economy has positively turned positive.
Oct 15, 2009 7:36 AM

Crunching the numbers on the stimulus' job impact

Economist Brad DeLong rips apart a Washington Post piece and offers up some basic math to help us get a better grasp on how spending trillions of dollars affects our daily lives.
That looks like a very good deal: buying an extra productive job for an American today at a cost of $2000 per year in higher taxes looking forward--particularly when you think that some of those extra jobs build up our productive capacity to make us richer in the future as well.
Mark Thoma follows up with some more perspective on the political dynamics of a crummy labor market:
I don't understand why the left has allowed its hands to be tied be the GOP's framing of the stimulus issue. Of course it's a political non-starter if you don't fight back and present alternative arguments. There are benefits to stabilizing the economy by shifting demand from the good times to the bad times even if it doesn't affect future economic growth (one could even argue that slightly lower growth is an acceptable trade off for enhanced stability, but that too is a political non-starter). People need jobs, and we need to put the policies in place - whatever those are - that can provide them.
Oct 13, 2009 11:24 AM

Retail property market begins to groan

Vacancy rates at strip centers reached a 17-year high last quarter, according to a new study. Rents haven't dropped too much yet, but observers say it's only a matter of time.
"Since asking and effective rent growth only turned negative about one year ago, it is daunting to observe this acceleration in decline in what has traditionally been regarded as a stable property type," Calanog said.
Oct 9, 2009 1:46 PM

Williamson homes aren't shipping as fast anymore

The Williamson County Association of Realtors checks in with September's sales report, which is highlighted by the fact that the number of days on the market for single-family homes is in triple digits for the first time since May. Click here to get the full numbers going to 2005.
Compared to September of 2008, single family residential closings decreased 10 percent and the median price decreased by 5 percent. Condominiums closings have decreased by 8 percent and the median price increased by 8 percent. The average days on the market (DOM) for residential homes have increased by 12 days and condominiums have increased by 5 days. Days on the market have been consistent since the onset of 2009, with the days ranging from 89 – 104 days.
Oct 8, 2009 8:09 AM

The extent of last year's mortgage meltdown

The government has tallied the numbers documenting the drop in mortgage activity in 2008. Demand for loans fell by almost a third while the credit crunch claimed a good number of independent lenders.
Oct 5, 2009 7:21 AM

Two years of restaurant struggles

The recession started early for the restaurant sector. And unlike many other industries, eateries appear to be nowhere near climbing out of their slump.
Oct 2, 2009 9:31 AM

Moody's: Homebuilders will suck more wind

Not-so-happy thoughts from credit ratings group Moody's on the state of the residential construction sector: The current economic climate looks set to extinguish the embers of hope and push home prices down further and longer than previously expected.
"We expect that the industry's one relatively bright spot—that is, robust cash-flow generation—will keep fading in the year ahead, as inventory liquidation plays itself out and funds from operations remain negative," Snider said. Moody's base case calls for pre-impairment operating losses to worsen by 8% in 2009 and improve modestly, but still be in a loss position in 2010.
Oct 1, 2009 7:06 AM

Home price upswing: Seasonal or not?

Well, that depends on who's dissecting the new Case-Shiller numbers: Hedge fund manager Tom Brown says the housing bears need a new excuse.
...[S]equential monthly improvement in the index usually deteriorates seasonally in July. This month, though, the change in the rate of change rose by 18 bps. So instead of a seasonally monthly slowing, we’re seeing month-on-month acceleration.
CNBC's Diana Olick says the numbers are a lot closer to reality when they're seasonally adjusted.
whether we're in a housing boom or bust, home prices always rise in the spring/summer months, due to the type of buyer largely in the market. Families, i.e. move-up home buyers, looking to close and move over the summer so as not to disrupt school, dominate the market in the spring and summer. They are, for the most part, buying larger, more expensive homes, and they therefore skew the median home price in their market higher. In the fall and winter, you tend to see more first-time buyers as well as more single buyers who want smaller, lower-priced homes.
Stephen Stanley of RBS says focusing on seasonality doesn't matter too much; the improvements are simply a case of the market coming off the absolute bottom of early this year.
...[I]n retrospect, a rebound of some magnitude was likely as demand recovered from non-existent to merely weak.
Sep 29, 2009 2:25 PM