Here We Go Again—Swell Numbers Which Aren’t

According to the financial press we have had some swell economic numbers in the last two days—so it’s giddy-up-and-go time for the stock market again. Thursday’s industrial production number was allegedly gangbusters and today’s housing start figure for October was described as a “boom” by the incorrigible headline writers at MarketWatch:
The Commerce Department on Friday said October housing starts surged, rising 13.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million.
Obviously, “surge” is a very different thing than “flat” or “punk”, but those latter terms are exactly what was reported by the Commerce Department this AM.
Last October, for example, single family housing starts posted at a 871,000 SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) and for October 2017 they came in at 877,000. Recalling that this minute difference represents an annualized rate, what we are really talking about here is roughly a 500 start gain for the month of October on a Y/Y basis. And that’s for the entire US of A where the total housing stock consists of about 135 million units!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on November 17th, 2017.

 

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