A Week of Bad Economic Data
Week in Review: Feb. 20-24
This week, like last week, brought us some pretty discouraging economic data. Mortgage applications (Wednesday) hit a 28 year low, mortgage rates (Thursday) bounced to the highest level since the Fall, and the Fed’s favorite measure of inflation (Friday) came in way too hot.
Reminder: it’s not too late to submit questions for our February Q&A, which we’ll hopefully get out at some point next week.
Gas prices dipped to $3.494/gallon and have now fallen in three straight weeks.
TSA Checkpoint Travel Numbers
Travel numbers for the week ending 2/21/2023 were about 2% below 2019 levels but remain well above 2022 levels. I think (but am in no way sure) that leisure travel has probably recovered pretty well, while business travel hasn’t.
Existing Home Sales
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, existing home sales fell again in January, down for the twelfth straight month. Sales were down just 0.7% from December but have fallen 36.9% since January 2022. The average sales price of existing homes is just 1.3% higher year over year, which is well below the annual rate of inflation.
S&P Global Flash PMI Readings
This preliminary data shows that the U.S. private sector strengthened in February. Overall business activity is expanding again, while the manufacturing industry is contracting at a slower rate. The final readings of these metrics come out on March 1 and March 3, so we’ll wait until then to do a deeper dive.
Delinquency Rates on Loans
Despite the four-decade-high inflation experienced over the past two years, delinquency rates on debt were in pretty good shape as of the end of 2022. Delinquency rates on credit card debt, residential mortgages, commercial real estate loans, other business loans, and agricultural real estate are all lower than they were at the start of 2020. This is good from the perspective of inflation not wrecking personal and commercial finances but bad from the perspective of higher interest rates dampening demand and driving down inflation.
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