Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Positive Sign For The Economy: US Household Net Worth Hit A Record High; The Ninth Consecutive Quarter Of Quarterly Increases; Highest In US History


January 3, 2014: Ford Motor Company delivers best sales year since 2006

December 25, 2013: another positive economic indicator -- November's durable goods number exceeds expectations.

December 17, 2013: Ford announces it will build three new manufacturing plants (two in China, one in South America). Now, this from GM: CEO Dan Akerson said the nation's largest auto maker could consider paying a dividend on its common shares next year even as it looks to raise executive salaries and invest $1.3 billion in modernizing five factories. Also, US industrial production hits pre-recession peak.

December 11, 2013: add another data point -- the AP is reporting job openings reach a 5-year high
Original Post

Back on December 6, 2013, I noted a number of positive data points about the US economy:
  • car sales up huge in November
  • housing is back in California -- strong
  • first time unemployment claims (yesterday) down significantly
  • unemployment rate (today) down 0.3 points
  • strength of dollar changes day-to-day, but price of WTI oil is trending up
  • 3.6% 3Q13; revised: 4.1% and Fed continues to buy briskly
  • gasoline demand is up (but ...)
  • Wal-Mart trading at all-time highs
  • Genesee & Wyoming car loadings double year-over-year
Now, a new data point, and a very interesting one at that. Reuters is reporting:
U.S. household net worth hit a record high in the third quarter as home prices marched up and the value of stocks and mutual funds surged, a hopeful sign for the economic recovery.
The Federal Reserve said on Monday household wealth increased $1.9 trillion to $77.3 trillion in the third quarter, the highest level since records started in 1945. It was the ninth straight quarter of increases.
Household net worth hits a record high, 3Q13. Not a record high in the past year. Not a record high in the past decade. Not a record high in the past 50 years, but a record high since records started in 1945, and, of course, that means this is a record high in the history of the United States.

The "funny" thing is this: does anyone believe it? Do you all feel that "US household net worth is at an all-time high"? Reading the mainstream media, looking at the Drudge links, reading this blog, listening to most talking heads, certainly suggests something different.

When you look at the other economic data points (noted above) and then this Federal Reserve announcement, .... well, I get pretty excited. Things don't seem so bad.

But, wow, that snuck up on me. I never in a million years would have guessed that US household net worth hit a record high this past quarter.  This includes the bubble back in 2000.  And this without any sign of an inflationary bubble during the past nine quarters, which takes us back to sometime in late 2011, I suppose.

Why isn't this a Drudge headline? Will Peggy Noonan mention this? Will Rush mention this? Will CBS Evening News report this? This seems so under-reported. Very, very strange, to say the least.

Several other data points from that linked Reuters article (look at them closely; very interesting):
  • During the third quarter, businesses were sitting on a cash pile of about $1.93 trillion, up from $1.81 trillion in the prior three months.
  • State and local government debt declined at a 3.9 percent rate in the third quarter, the sharpest drop since 1995. It had increased at a 1.1 percent rate in the second quarter.
  • Federal government debt increased at a 1.5 percent rate. It was the smallest increase since the second quarter of 2007 and was a slowdown from a 2.5 percent pace in the second quarter, which economists said was a good sign.