Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Housing starts implode 18.9% to record low; CPI falls 1.7%

We just got some key economic data, and it really shows an economy that's on the ropes. Some details:

* Housing starts imploded 18.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of just 625,000 units in November. That was down from 771,000 in October and far worse than the average economist forecast of 736,000. Building permits also tanked by 15.6% to 616,000 from 730,000 in October (economists were looking for a reading of 700,000).

* Single-family starts dropped 16.9% on the month, while multifamily starts fell 23.3%. Single-family permits fell 12.3%, while multifamily permits dropped 21.5%. Here's something else to noodle: Housing starts are now off a whopping 72.5% from their January 2006 peak of 2.273 million. These are the lowest starts figures the government has ever recorded since it began tracking in 1959. This is also the biggest peak-to-trough (?) decline on record.

* The Consumer Price Index plunged 1.7% in the month of November, a bigger decline than the 1.3% economists were looking for and the single-biggest monthly decline since the government began tracking in 1947. The core CPI was unchanged, against forecasts for an increase of 0.1%. That brought the year-over-year increase in the CPI down to 1.1% from 3.7% a month earlier, and the YOY core CPI down to 2% from 2.2%.


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