Monthly Archives: May 2007

Foreclosure Stats: Pick a Number, Any Number

We’ve noted more than once that quite a few government statistics near and dear to analysts and investors, such as GDP, inflation, and employment growth, are pretty iffy. So you don’t think we are unfairly singling out the government, some measures produced by the private sector are also questionable. A prime example is foreclosure statistics, […]

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On the Disputed Pink Diamond Purchase at Wal-Mart

The Wall Street Journal reported on what appears to be a partial rebuttal by Wal-Mart of charges made by Julie Roehm, its deposed marketing executive. A quick recap: Roehm was ousted last December. She sued for breach of contract and unfair dismissal. Wal-Mart counterclaimed, asserting that she had had an affair with a subordinate, taken […]

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G8 + Key Emerging Market National Science Academies Take Tough Stand on Global Warming

Earlier this month, the national science academies of the G8 plus those of China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and India, issued a strongly worded joint statement about global warming and energy usage. Let us stress that it is pretty much unheard of for this many independent science bodies to agree on such an unequivocal […]

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Evidence that Employment Stats Are "Wildly" Overstated

Barry Ritholtz via Seeking Alpha gives yet another example of a disheartening trend, namely, that government-issued statistics that investors, economists, and businesses for analytical and planning purposes are increasingly dubious. The case in point is the employment statistics. While the widely cited Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly employment report has showed tepid to reasonable employment […]

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WSJ: Easern European Homeowners Taking Foreign Currency Mortgages

The Journal’s front page story, “Homeowners Abroad Take Currency Gamble in Loans,” had numerous anecdotes about how Eastern Europeans are active in the carry trade, borrowing in cheaper currencies, gambling that the interest rate savings won’t be offset by currency appreciation. Some have compared the carry trade to picking up nickels in front of a […]

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Half-Baked WSJ Op-Ed on the Fed

I have spent the entire long weekend avoiding dealing with this article by David Ranson and Penny Russell, “Does the Fed Matter?” in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. The reason is that if I got going, there is so much in it that is off beam, misleading, or just plain wrong that it would be hard […]

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Larry Summers: "Practical Steps to Climate Control"

Larry Summers keeps getting better and better as an op-ed writer. His current article in the Financial Times lays out a series of practical recommendations on what to do about climate change. He focuses on the problem of the developing world, since they will account for 75% of the increase in greenhouse gases, and as […]

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Nouriel Roubini Interprets Last Week’s Housing Data

Nouriel Roubini looked at the various stats released last week – the 16% increase in new home sales versus the 1.4% fall in home prices averaged across 32 metropolitan areas (Federal Housing Finance Board survey) and the 2.6% fall in existing home sales from March to April (National Association of Realtors) and focused on the […]

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"How to Handle a Debt Collector"

This article ran on MarketWatch, and I find it a sign of the times. Despite the supposedly sound state of the economy (if you call a tanking housing market and 1.3% GDP growth, which is negative in real terms, “sound”), MarketWatch nevertheless thought this story would appeal to its target audience, the investing class. The […]

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Hobsbawm on the Future, or More Accurately, Lack Thereof, of Empires

If by some bizarre happenstance you do not know who Eric Hobsbawm is, it is never too late to find out. The Guardian’s website reported on a recent lecture he made on the declining role of empires. It’s a testament to the stature of the 89 year old Marxist historian that he was invited to […]

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More Evidence of Food Price Inflation

This Financial Times story, “Growing biofuels demand raises food prices,” highlights increasing prices of grains and other soft commodities. The grain price rise merits particular attention, since it appears to be a structural rather than a cyclical increase. And higher grain prices in turn mean higher meat, milk, and egg prices. What this story does […]

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More Evidence of Housing Price Declines

Calculated Risk pointed us to a story in the Chicago Tribune, “Price slide nationally hides big gains in some metro areas,” which cites the Federal Housing Finance Board survey of 32 metropolitan areas. The report, which the article notes tends to produce more flattering results than some other analyses, found that, averaging new and resale […]

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