August 27, 2008


Durable goods post strong increases in July, June (Associated Press, August 27, 2008)

Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods turned in a second consecutive strong monthly performance in July, a far bigger-than-expected gain led by a huge jump in demand for commercial aircraft.

The Commerce Department said today that orders for durable goods rose 1.3 percent last month, far above the slight 0.1 percent increase economists had been expecting.

The July increase matched a 1.3 percent rise in June, which was revised up from an earlier reading of 0.8 percent. Both months turned in the strongest gains since a 4.1 percent surge last December.

Economists had been expecting a far weaker showing in July reflecting their views that the manufacturing sector is being battered by the slowdown facing the overall economy. Instead, the report showed surprising strength in a number of areas.

Scores Stable as More Minorities Take SAT (Maria Glod and Michael Alison Chandler, 8/27/08, Washington Post)
SAT performance held steady for 2008 high school graduates even as participation rose among minority students and those who are part of the first generation in their families to go to college, the College Board reported yesterday. [...]

Nationwide, the number of students taking the SAT surpassed 1.5 million for the first time, up 8 percent from five years ago and almost 30 percent over the past decade. Forty percent of test-takers were minority students, up from 39 percent last year, and 36 percent were among a group described as first-generation collegegoers, up from 35 percent.

College Board officials considered the boost in participation evidence that the high school students who aspire to a college degree are growing more ethnically and economically diverse.

Number of Americans without health insurance falls (Lisa Girion, 8/27/08, Los Angeles Times)
In all, the number of people without health insurance dropped last year to 45.7 million, from 47 million in 2006, according to the bureau's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance. That's a drop to 15.3% of Americans from 15.8%.

Census: Income rose, middle class grew in 2007: But child poverty also rose, according to the new report. (Ron Scherer, 8/27/08, The Christian Science Monitor)
The standard of living rose and the middle class grew while the number of wealthy actually shrank somewhat compared to 2006. At the same time, the official poverty rate was basically unchanged. And the number of Americans without health coverage fell for the first time during the Bush administration.

Those are some of the conclusions from the US Census Bureau's annual survey, a report that gives scholars a longer view of the nation's economic health.

"It's a good solid report," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's

Glimmers of good news in US housing reports (The Associated Press, August 26, 2008)
While no one is ready to call the bottom of the worst housing collapse in decades, there were glimmers this week that the severity is waning.

The decline in home prices is starting to ease and in some cities values are starting to rise again. Existing home sales rose slightly from June to July, and the glut of newly built homes on the market fell to a five month low last month.

"The bottom of the housing downturn is coming into view," said Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi.

Aug. consumer outlook up more than expected (Associated Press, 8/27/08)
Americans felt better about the economy in August, as a barometer of sentiment posted the biggest boost in two years amid falling gas prices. [...]

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 56.9, up from a revised 51.9 in July. That's the largest gain since August 2006 and is ahead of the 53 expected by economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

Funny, America looks far different from the back of a unicorn....

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 27, 2008 9:19 AM
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