From stagflation to cost relief in six months — that's the new picture of the housing market that has emerged in just the last few weeks.
The labor market is turning out to be a new source for optimism in the Federal Reserve's fight against inflation.
The labor market has come a long way over the past year.
Surging mortgage rates have finally cooled off the housing market. The cooldown, though, is coming unevenly, accentuating differences between the existing home market and new construction.
Wednesday's Federal Reserve meeting provides the clearest sign yet that the central bank is treating inflation as a national emergency, with markets expecting a 0.75% interest-rate increase.
It's been a tough job market for much of the past 20 years, making a grim landscape for workers and contributing to a world of haves and have-nots. Now the have-nots are finally getting their shot.
Reasons to worry about a recession are piling up: the Federal Reserve's inflation fight, a slowing housing market, warnings from retailers and venture capitalists and a smattering of layoff announcements.
The housing market has turned in the past few weeks. We're probably looking at a cooling-off period rather than something nastier, but both possibilities lead to the same conclusion for would-be homebuyers: Be patient.
The Federal Reserve has talked a lot about its goal of a soft landing for the economy as it raises interest rates to fight inflation, but there hasn't been as much talk about what that would look like for workers.
So here we are: When investors aren't worried about inflation, they're worrying about recession. Tech companies are announcing hiring freezes and job cuts in growing numbers. Homebuilders are starting to talk about slowing demand and the supply of existing homes is rising. Walmart reported this week that it has excess inventories.
Higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve's efforts to get a handle on inflation have contributed to the stock market's worst start to the year since 1939. That's bad news for investors, but the market signal being sent to corporate America is good news on the inflation front.
If you want to blame one company for the surge in inflation over the past year, blame Amazon. When e-commerce demand leaped at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the retailer decided to expand capacity to meet higher growth forecasts.
Add this to the pandemic lesson book: People may be willing to give up their homes in high-cost, densely packed coastal cities, but they still want their coastal lifestyles — just with a little more space, cheaper real estate and warmer weather.
The recent surge in gasoline prices suggests we might see a reversal in consumers’ years-long shift towards trucks or sports-utility vehicles back to more modest, fuel-efficient vehicles. But don't expect automakers to go along.
If you want to know what stagflation looks like, check out the housing market. The conditions that existed during the 1970's — high inflation and stagnant output — are happening already in this segment of the U.S. economy, illustrating the challenges ahead for consumers, industry players and the Federal Reserve.
There's understandably a lot of concern about inflation — and consumers want to know who to blame for it. U.S. companies are showing that they've got pricing power and know how to use it in this environment. That makes them an easy target for consumers — and politicians' — ire.
The surge in mortgage rates we've seen this year is making an already dysfunctional housing market even more uncertain. Higher lending costs will make housing less affordable, which should cool demand and at least slow price increases.
Cars have been a big part of the U.S. inflation picture over the past year. Since a computer chip shortage slowed production and drove up prices for new and used vehicles, fixing those supply chain problems in 2022 was supposed to normalize the market again, helping cool inflation more broadly.
News that the U.S. population barely grew this year, together with ever-falling birthrates and the decline in immigration, raises the possibility that the nation will be shrinking in the not-so-distant future. So fewer people should make housing more affordable for those looking for it, right? Well, don't get your hopes up.
Inflation debates have been dominated by fallout from the pandemic and economic reopening, most of which has been viewed as transitory: lumber and used car prices in the first half of the year, the cost of ocean freight more recently.
When we talk about workers going back to their offices, the goal for most people is to return to the normal routines of life. But there's at least one group of former office-dwellers who are viewing the return as uncharted territory: parents who had their first child during the past 18 months.
The U.S. remains in a deep employment hole, with 6.7 million fewer jobs in June than there were in February 2020. But that overstates the weakness in the economy, with last week's second-quarter gross domestic product report showing American output is back at an all-time high.
A paradox of this economic crisis is that while U.S. unemployment remains high, the net worth of American households may be at a record, thanks to the soaring prices of stocks and homes.
Underappreciated is the improvement in the pandemic situation in southern states that were hot spots just a month ago.
Already, apartment rents are plunging in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York. But a significant constraint is going to be how much out-of-the-way communities are willing or able to grow.
We're seeing that there are meaningful differences between the last downturn and this one.