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Updated: Reasons to Break America's Addiction to Foreign Oil

As I have discussed in a previous blog post on May 18th, our country's reliance on foreign oil has massive direct and indirect costs on American consumers and the U.S. economy. There have been some interesting recent developments that merit revisiting this topic, including the President's sound decision to open the strategic reserve taps and the decline in gasoline prices over the past month or so.

Economic Indicator: Personal Income - Putting recent tax cuts into perspective

We have calculated and mentioned in this blog that the average household now has an extra $49.57 in its monthly budget or $247.85 through May as a result of the payroll tax cuts passed last December as part of the acronym-resistant Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Economic Indicator: GDP – Who’s Making the Money?

The third estimate of GDP for the first quarter of 2011 came out this morning, and of note is what it says about corporate profits by industry. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, domestic corporate profits increased in the first quarter of this year by $84.9 billion, up 6.4% from the previous quarter. This increase was led by growth among manufacturing ($39.1 billion), wholesale trade ($28.8 billion) and "other" non-financial firms ($44.4 billion). The largest loser was the financial sector which took a $57.4 billion hit.

Economic Indicator: Durable goods shipments, exports, and jobs - a love story

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its advance report on durable goods: manufacturers' shipments, inventories and orders for May. It's important to note that over the past 16 months, increases in exports of manufactured durable goods have soared, driving higher shipments and some improvement in durable goods-supported employment.

Did Sister Sledge mean “We are household” instead of “We are family”? Understanding Household Formation

When thinking about the housing sector, we can think about the short, medium, and longer term. In the short-term, we receive a wide variety of indicators, such as the data released today on housing starts and permits (both rose in May and the April data were revised upwards). In the medium-term (say the next year or so), a variety of factors will be at play, including the improving job market. In the longer-term, the key driver will be changes in the numbers of households.

Retail Sales in May

See below for an update of yesterday's chart, updated with the latest retail sales data from Census.

Shifting Shopping

Mark Doms, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce

ESA report on "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States"

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a short report on "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States." Foreign company investment in U.S. businesses, known as foreign direct investment (FDI), has supported more than 5 million jobs over the past decade, jobs that pay, on average, up to 30% more than the average of all U.S. firms (Figure 1).

Foreign Trade in April- Deficit Declines as Exports Rise, Oil Imports Plummet

Today's data release contained a bit of fresh air (in contrast to DC's unseasonably hot air – and that's not metaphorically speaking – we're talking code orange, 90+ degrees with comparable humidity, and iffy air quality); imports fell, despite an increase in oil prices. The amount of oil we imported dropped by an unusually large amount, and our imports from Japan dropped as well. On the other side, exports edged up, recording the second consecutive month of record exports following a surge last month. Subsequently, the trade deficit contracted, so April's report was overall pretty good.

Economic Indicator Preview: Foreign Trade- Exports, Oil and Natural Disasters

Among the slew of data that accompanies the U.S. Census Bureau's release of April export and import data on Thursday, three items deserve special attention.

Car or Truck? Why Gas Prices Help Drive Sales of Cars over Light Trucks

When auto companies report their sales figures tomorrow, we're likely to hear again how the sale of cars (especially gas sippers) is growing, while the sale of light trucks (especially gas guzzlers) is slumping (check out the New York Times story from Sunday "Detroit's Rebound Is Built on Smaller Cars"). Why? Since April, gas prices have continued to increase.


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