This Week's Business News

Total Income Growth

6.31% – year-over-year increase in total personal incomes.
2.36% – year-over-year total consumer inflation rate.

Economic Growth — Q2

Inflation-adjusted GDP growth in Q2 was revised upward, from an initial reading of 3.4 to the current reading of 4.0.

B.S. Degrees Don’t Stand for Bulls**t

CNN.money ran a story this week on the jobs paying $100,000 or more for which listings have spiked. Lo and behold, the six-figured-salaried jobs for which there’s a lot more demand than supply are:

Enterprise software consulting and sales,
Healthcare sales and operations management,
Commercial construction sales,
Manufacturing sales and QC management,
Financial controllers for construction firms,
Mechanical and robotics engineering.

Mr. Market

Another volatile week on Wall Street. Not surprising. This is, after all, that particular time of season.

If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, well, go ahead and research the historical performance of stocks from August 1st thru November 1st. You can go back decades if you’d like. You’ll find an interesting and obvious pattern.

In any event, hopefully the major market averages will reverse course and fall down with such alarming ferocity that Jim Cramer will self-immolate on live TV. That would be the archetypal leading indicator that stocks finally, mercifully, will have become cheap enough again to purchase — en masse.

Housing Market

New home sales in July came in far above expectations, at an annualized rate of 870,000 transactions. Sales in June of brand-new homes were higher than originally reported. From June to July new home sales increased 2.8%. New homes sold in July fetched $300,000 on average.

Sales of existing homes in July were 5.75 million (annualized). That was above Wall Street expectations and virtually identical to the revised figure of 5.76 million for June. The median price of existing homes sold last month was $228,900. In July 2006 it was $230,200. That’s a decline of 0.6 percent. Granted, that’s not quite analagous to a falling tech stock, circa 2000-2001, but still a decline is a decline.

Obviously home sales are well below the levels achieved during the apex of the recent housing market boom. Last month fewer existing homes were sold than at any time since . . . . November 2002.

Much Ado About Not Too Much

Speaking of the housing market, President Bush on Friday unveiled a regulatory push to assist distressed homeowners/mortgage borrowers. One of his points is well taken — eliminating the tax burden that currently takes place when mortgage lenders write down loans and thereby forgive debt. Presently that’s treated as taxable income. That tax anomaly has needed to be killed off for quite some time. The remainder of the proposals are, however, quite unnecessary.

Labor Unions = Vortexes of Destruction

U.S. Steel will purchase Stelco, a large Canadian steel company that recently emerged from bankruptcy. One of the inevitable effects of that deal, of course, will be unionized workers losing their jobs. The primary reason why Stelco went into bankruptcy in the first instance — why any North American steel company has done so over the past decade — is that of a unionized workforce.

You Have a Friend in the Business

Acer will purchase Gateway for $710 million. That continues the decade-old shift in the PC industry towards a traditional oligopoly — with worldwide markets divided now among four major industry players.

Smokin’

Altria plans to spin off its international tobacco unit. Ah, yes, Altria. One of the greatest investment success stories of the past generation. Provided, of course, you purchased Altria’s common stock when most everyone else out there — including the so-called “experts” — were panic selling.

Top Dem fundraiser turns himself in
Hurricanes, Florida Style