Economists Urge Political Action to Address Housing Affordability

U.S. housing affordability maintained its decade-long low in the fourth quarter of 2018, prompting economists to question the lack of political efforts to redirect home pricing. On Feb. 14, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo released its joint Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) that found a slight uptick in new and existi...
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Amazon Will Not Open Second Headquarters in New York City

After protests and political opposition, Amazon decided to not open a second headquarters in New York City Feb. 14. The company said it does not have plans to begin a search for another headquarters location and will instead continue with plans to open headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, according to Supply Chain D...
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Eurozone Industrial Production Takes a Hit in December

Industrial production fell hard in the eurozone in December, raising larger concerns about the 19 nations' effect on global economic growth. According to Reuters, industrial output declined almost 1% month-over-month (MoM), half a percent more than economists predicted. Dwindling production of capital goods was the driving force behind this decline...
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Dodge Index Rebounds in January

The Dodge Momentum Index rebounded slightly in January to a reading of 157.7 after a step back in December. The index released by Dodge Data & Analytics measures the initial report of nonresidential building in planning and has been an indicator of nonresidential spending within a full year. January's index increased 4.7% following December's d...
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BB&T, SunTrust Merger to Ignite Technology Investment

Banking executives are expecting new clientele and technology investment to flourish in the industry over the coming year after BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. announced plans on Feb. 7 for a $28 billion merger. Bloomberg reports the merger will create "the sixth-biggest commercial bank in the U.S. by assets." In a joint statement, the banks...
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UK Simplifies Customs Procedures in the Case of 'No-Deal' Brexit

The U.K. planned a way to simplify its customs process, should there be a "no-deal" Brexit. The policy, titled Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP), allows full declarations to be made after the imports have already crossed the border. The TSP will also allow companies to pay the duty fees a month after importing the goods. The government recen...
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Economists Hopeful for Retail Growth After Recovery From Government Shutdown

As economists look further into economic growth in 2019, many are anticipating a positive outcome for the retail sector, where U.S. sales are expected to rise significantly. On Feb. 5, Reuters reported the latest predictions from the National Retail Federation (NRF), finding the mixture of increased consumer confidence, growing wages and low employ...
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Construction Spending Sees Increase in November 2018

Construction spending rose by a total of 0.8% during November 2018, an unusually positive reading for the winter months in construction, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Residential construction outlays accounted for the most of November's gain and nonresidential spending declined. Overall, spending is up 4.5% year-to-date. Residential spending...
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US Job Growth Unaffected by Government Shutdown

Job growth in the United States saw its best of 11 months in January, according to the Department of Labor, despite the 35-day partial government shutdown that furloughed approximately 800,000 workers. On Feb.1, Reuters reported the Labor Department's findings that there was no "discernible" impact on job growth last month. Hiring spiked in January...
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Credit Managers’ Index Lags to Open 2019

The Credit Managers' Index from NACM is off to a slow start in 2019 following a decline to end the previous year. The combined index dipped to 53.4 in January from December's reading of 54.2. Many of the issues were seen in the unfavorable factors—accounts placed for collection, disputes, dollar amount beyond terms and dollar amount of customer ded...
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Australian Legislation Requested to Address Late Supplier Payments

Small businesses in Australia are struggling to get paid on time and the government is taking notice. On Jan. 28, The Australian reported Sen. Pauline Hanson's discussion to take legislative measures to require businesses to pay their small business suppliers in a specific timeframe, citing concerns of delayed and late invoices. The issue was broug...
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US Home Prices Still Showing Increases

U.S. home prices are increasing, however, at a slower pace than the month prior. According to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, prices were up 5.2% annually in November compared to 5.3% in October. The 10-city and 20-city composite indices were also down year-over-year in November compared to the previous...
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Dismal Outlook for 2019: Davos Forum

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ended Jan. 25 with global economic leaders doubtful for the future. Compared to the 2018 annual forum, morale is far lower this year. At the beginning of the conferences, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth for 2019, setting the tone for the rest of the conferenc...
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Rising Mortgage Rates, Prices Rock Existing-Home Sales in December

Home construction is feeling the implications of rising mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), after reports saw nearly a 6.5% drop in existing-home sales in December 2018. NAHB analyzed data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) published on Jan. 22, which included single-family homes, townhomes, c...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Flagging Consumer Confidence For the last couple of years, the consumer confidence level has been high and, in many respects, higher than would have been expected. The sense has been that consumers pay close attention to only a handful of factors as far as the economy is concerned—jobs, prices and the behavior o...
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Global CEO Optimism Down Over Political Undertakings

Despite the whirlwind of optimism in 2018, CEOs worldwide aren't nearly as hopeful about their respective business climates, according to a recently released survey by PwC and the World Economic Forum (WEF). More than 1,300 CEOs responded to the global survey, 30% of whom anticipate a decline in global growth over the next year. On Jan. 22, PwC Glo...
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Lower Construction Input Prices Can’t Shake Weakening Economic Growth

December's construction input prices brought some good news to contractors, as Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) reports a 1.7% month-over-month (MoM) decline that was most notable in nonresidential construction pricing. Although contractors' concerns aren't completely diminished, ABC Economist Anirban Basu said in the report that the price...
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Corporate Liquidity Squeeze on Horizon

Corporate liquidity is in for a slight squeeze in the future according to the latest Liquidity-Stress Indicator (LSI) from Moody's Investors Service. The LSI was unchanged in December; however, at 3.7%, it is at its highest reading since May 2017. "We expect slower corporate earnings growth and tighter funding conditions this year to continue to li...
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US Contractors Using Off-Site Construction for Commercial Projects

U.S. contractors in the commercial construction industry are exploring off-site construction as a means to address labor shortages, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences Off-Site Construction Council. Following a 2018 survey, about 54% of respondents said they were utilizing off-site construction, which the council as "the planni...
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China’s Exports and Imports Fall, Dismal Outlook for World Economy

China's exports have fallen, which has raised concerns in the global market. During the month of December exports saw the largest drop in two years, indicating China's economic power is weakening in 2019 with a smaller global demand, according to a recent article by Reuters. Along with this sharp decline, China posted its largest trade surplus with...
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