How Amazon Hooked America On Fast Delivery While Avoiding Responsibility For Crashes
Thursday, 05 September 2019 20:20
Our investigation found Amazon escapes responsibility for its role in deaths and serious injuries even though the company keeps a tight grip on how third-party delivery drivers do their jobs.
New York To Investigate Facebook Over Possible Antitrust Violations
Friday, 06 September 2019 18:23
The joint probe with several other states will look at how the social media giant's market dominance affects user data, consumer choice and the price of ads.
Why CEOs Are Failing At Inclusion — & How To Fix It
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 15:56
“You can’t be an ally or advocate unless you’re willing to take action. Even micro-actions can make an impact.”
Lyft Updates Safety Policies Amid Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 01:02
An attorney representing 14 women who say they were assaulted by Lyft drivers called the company's updated policies a "cheap public relations stunt."
It Takes A Village To Create Sustained Institutional Change
Thursday, 12 September 2019 17:45
Strengthening tomorrow through diversity and inclusion starts with us today.
Possible Strike Looms At General Motors
Friday, 13 September 2019 21:48
The United Auto Workers union and GM will hit a negotiating deadline this weekend, just as the union faces more embarrassing corruption news.
MoviePass Shuts Down Its Service After Years Of Floundering
Friday, 13 September 2019 23:50
MoviePass' parent company appeared unsure if it the movie ticketing service would ever be restored.
Kickstarter's Opposition To Union Puts Progressive Users In A Bind: 'It's Toxic Now'
Sunday, 15 September 2019 00:05
Projects that raise money on the site fear they will lose funders who want nothing to do with Kickstarter.
GM's UAW Workers Call A Nationwide Strike For First Time In 12 Years
Sunday, 15 September 2019 20:13
Roughly 48,000 workers at General Motors facilities will go on strike at midnight Sunday over failed contract negotiations.
United Auto Workers Calls For Strike At General Motors
Sunday, 15 September 2019 21:29
The work stoppage would involve nearly 50,000 workers. "We'll see them on the picket lines tonight," the union said.
United Auto Workers Launch Strike At 55 GM Facilities
Monday, 16 September 2019 07:12
The union and the automaker failed to come to an agreement on a new four-year collective bargaining deal.
Massive Strike Hits General Motors As 46,000 Workers Walk Off
Monday, 16 September 2019 17:57
The auto industry hasn't seen a United Auto Workers walkout like this in years.
Why General Motors Workers Are On Strike Nationwide
Tuesday, 17 September 2019 05:51
It's not that complicated. GM has been highly profitable, and workers haven't forgotten the sacrifices they made to prop up the company.
Port of Los Angeles: Imports increased, Exports decreased in August
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 23:37
From the Port of Los Angeles: August Cargo Another Record Breaker at Port of Los Angeles
For the fifth consecutive month, the Port of Los Angeles has set a new single-month cargo record. In August, the Port moved 861,081 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), the busiest August in the Port’s 112-year history and a 4.2% increase over the same period last year.

Eight months into 2019 overall volumes have increased 5.7% compared to 2018, when the Port set an all-time cargo record.

“The final months of 2018 ended with an extraordinary influx of imports to beat expected tariffs on China-origin goods,” Seroka added. “We don’t expect to see those kind of volumes in the months ahead. We need a negotiated settlement of the U.S.-China trade war to restore global trade stability.”

August 2019 imports increased 4.1% to 437,613 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports decreased 10% to 146,284 TEUs, the 10th consecutive monthly decline of exports.
emphasis added
Wednesday: PPI
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 02:40
• At 7:00 AM ET, The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 8:30 AM, The Producer Price Index for August from the BLS. The consensus is for a 0.1% increase in PPI, and a 0.2% increase in core PPI.
MBA: Mortgage Applications Increased in Latest Weekly Survey
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 14:00
From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Mortgage applications increased 2.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 6, 2019. This week’s results include an adjustment for the Labor Day holiday.

... The Refinance Index increased 0.4 percent from the previous week and was 169 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 8 percent compared with the previous week and was 9 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
“Mortgages rates continued to decline over the holiday-shortened week, with the 30-year fixed rate decreasing five basis points and remaining near three-year lows,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Refinances were essentially unchanged, up just 0.4 percent, but August overall was the strongest month of activity so far in 2019. Purchase applications rose around 5 percent, with increases for both conventional and government applications.”

Added Kan, “Purchase activity was 9 percent higher than last year, continuing the trend seen most of the year of solid year-over-year gains.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 3.82 percent from 3.87 percent, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance IndexClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

Mortgage rates have declined from close to 5% late last year to under 4%.

With lower rates, we saw a recent sharp increase in refinance activity.

Mortgage Purchase Index The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index

According to the MBA, purchase activity is up 9% year-over-year.
Employment: August Diffusion Indexes
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 17:01
I haven't posted this in a few months.

The BLS diffusion index for total private employment was at 53.5 in August, down from 57.8 in July.

For manufacturing, the diffusion index was at 51.3, down from 53.9 in August.

Think of this as a measure of how widespread job gains are across industries. The further from 50 (above or below), the more widespread the job losses or gains reported by the BLS.  From the BLS:
Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
Employment Diffusion IndexOverall both total private and manufacturing job growth were not widespread in August.

Both indexes have been trending down in 2019 - indicating job growth is becoming less widespread across industries.
Houston Real Estate in August: Sales up 4% YoY, Inventory Up 8%
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 19:19
From the HAR: Houston Home Sales Sizzle in August
Temperatures weren’t the only thing soaring in August. Home sales registered another hot month, as low mortgage interest rates kept consumers in a buying mood. According to the latest monthly report from the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), August sales of single-family homes throughout greater Houston totaled 8,679. That is up 3.9 percent year-over-year and marks the second largest one-month sales volume of all time; the record of 8,930 was set just last month. On a year-to-date basis, home sales are running 3.1 percent ahead of 2018’s record volume.
Housing inventory still remains ahead of 2018 levels. It reached a 4.2-months supply in August compared to 4.0 months a year earlier. So far in 2019, June and July marked the peak of inventory – a 4.3-months supply. Robust inventory and mortgage interest rates currently averaging 3.49 percent (according to Freddie Mac) have created a favorable climate for home buyers and paved the way for one of the strongest summers in Houston real estate history.

Sales of all property types increased 4.1 percent in August, totaling 10,375 units. That marks the second highest one-month volume of all time. The record for total property sales in a single month was 10,444 set just last month, in July 201[9], which also was the first time that figure broke the 10,00[0] mark. Total dollar volume for the month climbed 6.6 percent to $3.1 billion.

“This has been one of the hottest summers in Houston history, both in terms of temperatures and home sales,” said HAR Chair Shannon Cobb Evans with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. “The Houston real estate market typically slows a bit once school starts and we get into fall, but with interest rates as low as they’ve been and a steadily growing supply of homes, it’s possible that sales don’t let up until closer to the holidays. The rental segment has also been extremely active and looks to remain that way a while longer.”
emphasis added
Total active inventory was up 8.2% YoY to 45,062 properties from 41,650 properties in August 2018. Sales are on pace for a record year.
Merrill on Retail "Consumer demand pulled back in August"
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 21:19
A few excerpts from two BofA Merrill Lynch research notes: Consumer demand pulled back in August
Based on the aggregated BAC credit and debit card data, retail sales ex-autos fell 0.5% month-over-month (mom) seasonally adjusted (sa). This reversed the 0.9% mom gain in July. As always, there were a number of "special factors" which we decipher in this note.

Amazon Prime Day and other retailers' summer promotions in mid-July provided a significant boost to spending, as we showed last month. In our view, these promotions effectively pulled forward demand into July and out of August.

Outside of the promotion distortions, we also think spending was dampened by weakening sentiment.
emphasis added
And on confidence: The uneasy consumer
The consumer is beginning to worry. Since our last update in mid-August, the BofAML US consumer confidence indicator (USCCI) declined by 3.8 points to 50.1 based on data through September 9. It briefly dipped below the 50 breakeven level during the survey period indicating that the consumer is growing increasingly pessimistic.
CR Note: Retail sales for August will be released on Friday, and the consensus is for a 0.3% increase in retail sales.

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