Wednesday, February 27, 2008

January New Home Sales Fall Below 600K (SAAR)

According to the Census Bureau report, New Home Sales in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 588 thousand. Sales for December were essentially unchanged.
Sales of new one-family houses in January 2008 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 588,000 ... This is 2.8 percent below the revised December rate of 605,000 and is 33.9 percent below the January 2007 estimate of 890,000.
New Home Sales
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 482,000.
The 482,000 units of inventory is slightly below the levels of the last year.

Inventory numbers from the Census Bureau do not include cancellations - and cancellations are once again at record levels. Actual New Home inventories are probably much higher than reported - my estimate is about 100K higher.
New Home Sales Inventory
This represents a supply of 9.9 months at the current sales rate.

This is another VERY weak report for New Home sales. More later today on New Home Sales.
New Home Sales Months of Inventory
 blog it

S&P Case-Shiller: Prices Fall Sharply in Q4 2007

S&P Case-Shiller reported that house prices fell sharply in Q4 2007.
The first graph shows the Case-Shiller index since 1987. The index fell to 170.64 in Q4, from 180.31 in Q3. A decline of 5.3%, or over 20% at an annual rate.
Case Shiller House Price Index
This is the lowest level for the index since Q1 2005.
The second graph shows the year-over-year change in the Case-Shiller index.

Prices fell 8.9% in 2007 according to Case-Shiller.
Case Shiller House Price Index YoY Change
The index is off 10.2% from the peak.
 blog it

Monday, February 25, 2008

Man Bitten by Shark While on Dive in Florida Dies

clipped from
MIAMI  —  An Austrian tourist died Monday after being bitten by a shark while diving near the Bahamas in waters that had been baited with bloody fish parts to attract the predators.

Markus Groh, 49, a Vienna lawyer and diving enthusiast, was on a commercial dive trip Sunday when he was bitten about 50 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, said Karlick Arthur, Austrian counsel general in Miami.

The crew aboard the Shear Water, of Riviera Beach-based Scuba Adventures, immediately called the U.S. Coast Guard, which received a mayday from the vessel, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nick Ameen.

clipped from
clipped from

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel says the man was diving with a company that specializes in arranging interactions with sharks. "Please be aware that these are not 'cage' dives; they are open water experiences," the company says on its website, according to the paper.

clipped from
The coroner is told that Jarrod Stehbens was not wearing a shark deterrent even though there was one available (file photo).
The coroner is told that Jarrod Stehbens was not wearing a shark deterrent even though there was one available.
 blog it

Nader on Health Care: Single Payer is the Way to Go

clipped from
In announcing his 2008 bid for the White House on “Meet the Press” yesterday, Nader said: “All, all the candidates — McCain, Obama and Clinton — are against single-payer health insurance, full Medicare for all. I’m for it, as well as millions of Americans and 59% of physicians in a forthcoming poll this April.”
Nader’s campaign Web site is scant on details so far, but he’s talked plenty about the issue. In an interview with “Democracy Now!” last July, for instance, Nader said if he had it his way, health care in the U.S. would “look like full Medicare for everybody, whereby the government is the payer.”
Here’s Nader’s relevant press release from his 2000 run for the White House, in which he says “massive savings” from creating a single-payer, government-funded system would pay for universal coverage.
In this video, Nader receives lots of cheers from a crowd as he talks about universal health care.
 blog it

Barack's Blockbuster in Akron

clipped from

All across Ohio, Barack has been greeted by huge crowds of supporters -- 7,000 folks Saturday night in Cleveland; 15,000 yesterday in Toledo.

Saturday, over 5,000 people in Akron waited out in the cold, in a line that wrapped around the John S. Knight Center, because they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves and hope again...
 blog it

Obama: McCain Puts Lobbyists 'In Charge'

clipped from
Sen. Barack Obama said Saturday that the
Republican presidential nominee in waiting, Sen. John McCain, has
lobbyists as top aides and "many of them have been running their
business on the campaign bus while they've been helping him."
The Democratic presidential hopeful also said McCain's health
care plans reflect "the agenda of the drug and insurance
lobbyists, who back his campaign and use money and influence to
block real health care reform."
Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for McCain, said the Arizona
senator "has been an agent for change for his entire career - he
is the greatest change agent in our party - and we plan to
highlight that record in this election."
Obama broadened his criticism to McCain's ties to lobbyists
He takes their money and has put them in charge
of his campaign."
Obama was referring to Charlie Black
to a recent published report that said the McCain strategist, who
is a registered lobbyist, does a lot of work by phone from McCain's
campaign bus.
 blog it

Exiting Home Sales "Slipped" 23.4%


Existing-Homes sales "slipped" some in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The problem, the Realtors point out, is simply that some potential buyers are waiting on sidelines.

Delve beneath the national average into the details, and you find all manner of ugliness.

-Median existing-home price was $201,100 in January, down 4.6% from a year ago (National average)
-Total housing inventory rose 5.5%

-At the end of January, existing homes available for sale were  4.19 million, a 10.3-month supply at the current sales pace (up from a 9.7-month supply in December). 

-Single-family home sold at an annual rate of 4.34 million in January. This is 22.4% below January 2007. 

-The median existing single-family home price was $198,700 in January, down 5.1% from a year ago.

-Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 6.5%, and are 30.2% below the year ago levels. The median existing condo price ($220,400) is only 1.0% lower than January 2007.
 blog it

People rest in one of Nairobi's temporary shelters

clipped from
Zohra Bensemra of Reuters took this photo of people from the Kikuyu tribe resting today at a temporary shelter in Nairobi's Mathare slum. They are among the thousands of Kenyans who have been displaced in recent weeks by post-election violence in Kenya.
 blog it


clipped from
Alan Blinder and Lawrence Summers both wrote about the problems the economy faces from foreclosures and the possible solutions
Blinder looks at the possibility of reviving the New Deal-era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. “The HOLC was established in June 1933 to help distressed families avert foreclosures by replacing mortgages that were in or near default with new ones that homeowners could afford. It did so by buying old mortgages from banks — most of which were delighted to trade them in for safe government bonds — and then issuing new loans to homeowners.
in the Financial Times Summers proposes bankruptcy overhauls and more voluntary restructurings
“Bankruptcy reform alone could, on some estimates, avert 500,000 foreclosures
Proper support for voluntary restructurings involving interests in future appreciation should realize still greater benefits.”
 blog it

The Technology Tech Leaders Fear the Most

clipped from
You know that cool Web site you found or the device that makes you more productive? Better not bring it to the office: The majority of corporate tech leaders say that these tools don’t belong in the workplace.
That’s according to CIO Magazine, which found that 54% of the 311 tech leaders it surveyed said that technology designed for consumers was inappropriate for corporate use.
Here are the top nine
Voice-over-the-Internet software
Online productivity software. This surprised us, but software like Google Apps and Zoho
Digital cameras
Remote storage
Social-networking Web sites. Ten percent of tech leaders are frightened by sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Instant Messaging. Online chat is a large enough security threat that 11% of tech leaders said it was their biggest fear.
Web-based email accounts. Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail topped the list
Portable storage devices. A runaway winner, devices like USB drives were the biggest fear for 43% of tech leaders.
 blog it

Friday, February 22, 2008

Three of the Nasdaq Four Horseman Are Limping


Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Baidu (BIDU) -- three of the NASDAQ FOUR HORSEMAN -- have been coming up gimpy since their FusionIQ timing sell signals (triggered at much higher levels several weeks ago).

These stocks have fallen precipitously since those Sells.

Only Research in Motion (RIMM) -- which gapped open strongly yesterday -- acts well.
note: Sell Signals are indicated with a red "S"
Research in Motion
 blog it

Newborn lemur makes public apperance at Paris zoo

clipped from
This lemur, known as Propithecus verreauxi coronatus, is part of an endangered species native to Madagascar.
 blog it

Netscape Finally Really Dead

clipped from
AOL will officially pull the plug on the Netscape Web browser next week, which raises the question: Netscape is still alive?
This week, the diehards who still use Netscape’s browser received a notice telling them it was time to start using either the Firefox or Flock browsers — for some reason Netscape didn’t suggest switching to Explorer – officially marking the end of an era. This blogger will always remember Netscape fondly for providing access to out-of-town baseball scores in the early days of the Web.
 blog it

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pushing on a string

Ben Bernanke has cut interest rates a lot since last summer. But can he make a difference? Or is he just, as the old line has it, pushing on a string?
Here’s the Fed funds target rate (red line) — which is what the Fed actually controls — versus the interest rate on Baa corporate bonds (blue line), which is probably a better guide to what matters for actual business spending.
It’s pretty grim. Basically, deteriorating credit conditions have offset everything the Fed has done. Doubleplus ungood.
 blog it

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Alzheimer's Foundation Offers Grant for Innovative Service

clipped from
As demand increases
nationwide for support services for individuals with Alzheimer's disease
and their families, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today
announced that it will be accepting applications for a $30,000 grant to
support an innovative program or service that improves the lives of those
affected by the brain disorder.
The grant process is open only to AFA's nonprofit member organizations,
and applications must be postmarked by May 15, 2008. To find out more about
AFA membership and AFA's grant programs, visit or call
AFA's services include a toll-free hot line,
counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and
professional training. For information, call (toll-free) 866-AFA-8484 or
 blog it