Construction Input Prices Rise 4.6% in May; Softwood Lumber Prices Up 154% From a Year Ago

Construction input prices increased 4.6% in May compared to the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Producer Price Index data released today. Nonresidential construction input prices increased 4.8% for the month.Construction input prices are 24.3% higher than a year ago, w...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for April 8, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Three-Quarters of US Population Hit The latest survey of the damage reveals that roughly 73% of the U.S. population has been affected negatively by the economic shutdown. There are those who have lost their jobs. They have taken the brunt of the assault, but most of the popula...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for April 6, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—One-Third of Economy Shut Down There have certainly been recessions in the past. Even the most recent of these (in 2008) was worse in a number of significant ways. This recession is presenting challenges that are unprecedented and for which there has been no way to prepare. Th...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for April 3, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Massive Job Loss As expected, the job numbers look really bad—a loss of over 700,000 and this is not even counting the numbers that occurred in the last week. This is certainly stunning but totally predictable. There are, however, still considerations that make this situation ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for April 1, 2020

 By Chris Kuehl, NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Tempting but Now Is Not the Time It crossed my mind only briefly but today is, after all, April Fools' Day. I had considered starting today's issue with a piece that announced the COVID-19 thing was all over or was just a ruse. That level of humor is inappropriate in the extrem...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 30, 2020

 By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—It's Trash Day There are front-line workers that we rarely hear much about, but we need them now more than ever. Today is the day that my trash is picked up. I am grateful that the refuse will soon vanish from in front of my house. I am a diligent recycler and composter....
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 27, 2020

 By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Stimulus Holdup It seems not everybody thinks the U.S. economy is in trouble. Rep. Thomas Massie from Kentucky has indicated he will vote against the bailout and will demand the vote be via roll call as opposed to a voice vote that doesn't require a quorum be present. He...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 25, 2020

 By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Road to Hell and Best Intentions The decision on the part of the federal government to delay the time for people to file their income taxes was designed to give people a brief reprieve in the middle of the virus crisis, but as with most such gestures, it has had unintend...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 20, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Denial Always Helps The latest statements from Trump and his team are anything but helpful and have added to the angst in the business community. States have been asked to withhold information regarding jobless claims. This is ostensibly to focus attention on the national numb...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 16, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Virus Crisis Number One As the reaction to the virus crisis expands, it has become abundantly obvious economic collapse is very likely. There are sectors that will be in bigger trouble than others. At the top of the list will be small business. If Seattle is any indication, th...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 13, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Reactions There may still be a good bit of debate over who is and who is not at risk from COVID-19, but there is unanimous agreement that the virus has devastated the global economy. The issue started out as a supply chain crisis stemming from the shutdown in China, but now th...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 11, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Mortgage Rates Plummet Not much good can come of the market collapse, but as investors frantically seek out havens, they are driving the yields on treasury bills to record lows. That has an impact on mortgage rates. The basic idea behind lowering the fed funds rate is to do ex...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 9, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Virus Ripple Number One—Oil The price per barrel of oil has crashed to levels not seen in decades as demand has collapsed for the commodity. The most significant decline has been in China, but there has been substantial reduction of demand in the U.S., Japan and Europe as well...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 6, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Job Numbers Look Good This is the report that came out before the impact of the virus. At this stage, the economy looks pretty solid with 273,000 jobs created—far more than had been anticipated. What happens from here is anybody's guess. The virus has not seemed to provoke any...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 4, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Hawks and Doves on Same Page It was expected the Fed would take action at some point, but that they chose to do this now was a shock as they had been asserting there was no immediate plan as recently as three weeks ago. That there was unanimous support was also a bit of a surp...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 2, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Lots of Data to Work with This Week There will be a chance to gauge just how important the virus outbreak has been. The various iterations of the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) will be released and several will be parsed very carefully. We already know the Chinese PMI plumme...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 28, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Meanwhile—Back at the Ranch It would seem that everything else in the economy stopped once the issue of the coronavirus hit, but as important as this outbreak has become, there is a certain amount of life that still goes on. One of the ongoing issues has to do with where peopl...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 26, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Home Prices Ratcheting Up The price of homes has been rising again—by 3.8% in 2019. In truth, the price of homes has been inching up consistently for years, but the pace quickened in the last year. The price hikes are varied with the highest being in the hottest markets (as on...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 24, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—US Economy—Consumer Confidence Watch Tomorrow, the Conference Board will release its latest survey data on the mind of the consumer. As long-time readers know by this time, I am not a huge fan of these consumer surveys as the consumer is notoriously fickle and hard to read. One day they ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 14, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy—Slight Hike in Consumer Inflation The latest consumer price index has been released. It showed a 0.1% increase in consumer inflation. This is attributed to rising costs in sectors such as health care, food and housing. Even in these sectors, there was considerable variety. T...
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