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Reference

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NOTE: I think this page turned out not to be very useful, and have tentatively decided not to maintain it. If you disagree, please let me know (see the contact information on the About page.

This page has a brief summary for each major update to the Reference section. The key page affected is listed, not every page. Changes are listed most recent first.

Japan employment (25 Mar 2011. This is a new page). As of January the rate was down moderately from the financial crisis peak. In the long run, the unemployment rate has been in a strong rising trend. This reflects the transition from most jobs being secure for life to the present situation, where about a third of jobs are temporary or part time.

Japan demographics (23 Mar 2011. This is a new page). Even a cursory look at the long-term trends in working age population and retirement age population show that the Japanese government will find, at best, temporary reprieves from its shrinking domestic funding base.

World Trade Monitor NBEPA (23 Mar 2011) World trade in goods experienced a sharp drop and rapid recovery in 2008 and 2009. Although many have expressed worries about a trade war, the rising trend shows no break.

Inventory of existing US homes (21 Mar 2011) The inventory of homes for sale was up slightly, in both absolute number (3.5 million) and months of sales (8.6 months). This suggests that prices will continue to decline.

Japan inflation (18 Mar 2011) In recent years Japan has alternated between low levels of inflation and deflation. Currently inflation is running at 0.0%. Complacency would be out of place. The situation with government debt is grave, and if the deficit must be monetized inflation could rise quickly.

Historical prices of precious metals (18 Mar 2011) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: Silver is 149% above its long-term average; gold 117%; palladium 131%; and platinum 93%. In all four cases, the fraction of time they have been more expensive than currently, over the last 40 years, is small.

US CPI (18 Mar 2011) Core inflation hit a low of 0.6% year-over-year in October 2010, and is now running at 1.1%. Given (1) the bias of the Fed, (2) rising rents, and (3) the bull market in commodities, it seems clear we've seen the low. High inflation remains a long-term worry, but is unlikely in the short term.

US index of industrial production (17 Mar 2011) The growth trend in manufacturing continues. The key manufacturing indicator to watch is industrial production. Factory orders are commonly thought to lead production, but do not. The ISM PMI is very noisy, but it is a useful leading indicator to consult in ambiguous situations.

Euro zone inflation (16 Mar 2011) Core inflation has been between 1.0% and 1.2% since June 2010. However headline inflation has been in a clear uptrend, and stood at 2.4% in February.

China inflation (11 Mar 2011) The main conclusion is that inflation is at roughly the level where it has been for the last few months. I remain of the opinion that any further anti-inflation measures are likely to be small and gradual, and will not derail growth. That supposition is important, in particular, for the commodity markets.

US home forfeitures (9 Mar 2011) Home forfeitures fell in the fourth quarter, as expected, given the legal challenges to flawed foreclosure paperwork, but began to rise again in 2011. The backlog of distressed loans is still very high, perhaps in the neighborhood of 5 million. Home forfeitures are currently running at about 75 thousand per month. This suggests that several more years of high liquidations may be needed to clear the backlog.

US employment (4 Mar 2011) The economy is, when you come down to it, people doing useful things for each other, and if most people are productively employed, everything else will follow. So it is good news that there seems to be real recovery in the employment situation. But it is also sobering that this recovery is much closer to the beginning than the end.

China PMI (1 Mar 2011) We are starting to see a noticeable deceleration from the measures that have been taken to contain inflation.

NIPA personal income (28 Feb 2011) Real organic income grew a healthy 3.5% from January 2010 to January 2011. Over the same period disposable income grew 2.7% and spending 2.8%. For now the recovery continues; hopefully the oil price is not too big a shock.

Japan trade (this page is no longer maintained) (28 Feb 2011) Japan's economy is closely linked to exports. Year-over-year growth in exports rebounded strongly after the crisis and then dropped back, but it has remained positive since December 2009. This suggests the recovery, though still fragile, remains on track.

World Trade Monitor NBEPA (23 Feb 2011) Despite many people expressing fears of a trade war, world trade in goods continued to grow in December, and has now exceeded the previous peak from 2008.

US business bankruptcies and US personal bankruptcies (23 Feb 2011) It would seem that both personal and business bankruptcies are now, after large adjustments to (1) a change in the law in 2005, and (2) the financial crisis, settling into something closer to normal levels.

Inventory of existing US homes (23 Feb 2011) Taking seasonal patterns into account, the inventory of unsold existing homes is stable. Since inventory is probably going to increase again, prices likely have further to fall.

Historical prices of precious metals (17 Feb 2011) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: Silver is 126% above its long-term average; gold 112%; palladium 168%; and platinum 106%. In all four cases, the fraction of time they have been more expensive than currently, over the last 40 years, is small (or, in the case of platinum, zero).

US CPI (17 Feb 2011) Core inflation hit a low of 0.6% year-over-year in October 2010, and is now running at 1.0%. Given (1) the bias of the Fed, (2) rising rents, and (3) the bull market in commodities, it seems likely we've seen the low. High inflation remains a long-term worry, but is unlikely in the short term.

US index of industrial production (16 Feb 2011) Although this month is less positive than last, there is no reason to think that the general uptrend has broken.

China inflation (15 Feb 2011) (This is a new page.) Inflation in China is high right now, but it has been much higher in the fairly recent past. This suggests that policymakers are unlikely to implement any drastic anti-inflation measures that could risk damaging growth.

US employment (4 Feb 2011) Just as the economy looked on the verge of a double dip a few months ago, so now a pop of optimism and growth in business is probably a bit overdone. I think the drop in unemployment is real, but the (very welcome) short-term improvement does not change the likely outlook of a very long climb back to full employment.

China PMI (1 Feb 2011) Judging from the values of the last few years, the current PMI values indicate neither deceleration nor overheating, but simply a normal growth mode in the manufacturing sector.

HAMP progress (31 Jan 2011) Active modifications rose for a second month, but the overall effect of the program remains limited.

NIPA personal income (31 Jan 2011) Household organic income is in a rising trend now, suggesting that the economy is becoming less dependent on emergency measures. However spending over the last year has increased more than has organic income, so spending growth might slow somewhat as the stimulus winds down. All told, I am optimistic that the recovery, though slow, will be self-sustaining.

World Trade Monitor NBEPA (25 Jan 2011) For the previous few months the index had been roughly level, but in November the volume of trade increased significantly. For now it would appear that the recovery continues, and any (much-discussed) trade wars are failing to halt the rise.

Inventory of existing US homes (20 Jan 2011) Inventory in number of homes stands at an elevated level, 3.6 million. Even though the inventory in months of supply has improved for several months, it is still, at 8.1 months, high from a long-term perspective. Current inventory levels continue to suggest further correction of prices.

Historical prices of precious metals (14 Jan 2011) Silver is 109% above its long-term average price, gold 116%, palladium 164%, and platinum 110%.

US CPI (14 Jan 2011) Inflation remains low and stable: the “core” measure, that is, inflation for all items less food and energy, has fluctuated between 0.6% and 0.8% for the last 4 months.

US index of industrial production (14 Jan 2011) The more moderate growth trend of the last few months seems to be on track.

US employment (7 Jan 2011) In brief, the US employment situation is healing, but very, very slowly. Total employment fell 6% from the peak and, though there has been some recovery of lost jobs, the number of jobs is still growing more slowly than the population.

China PMI (1 Jan 2011) Both the public and private PMI's indicate that manufacturing in China is growing solidly.

Mortgage Metrics report (30 Dec 2010) The best news in the Mortgage Metrics report for Q3 was that re-default rates on modified loans continued to trend lower. Foreclosures continued to rise and the seriously delinquent loan count continued to fall through September. Even if these trends changed somewhat in more recent months, home forfeitures will remain elevated for a long time.

World Trade Monitor NBEPA (25 Dec 2010) World trade in goods experienced a sharp drop and rapid recovery in 2008 and 2009. Although many have expressed worries about a trade war, for the last few months the level of trade has been approximately level.

NIPA personal income (24 Dec 2010) Household organic income is pretty clearly in a rising trend now, suggesting that the economy is becoming less dependent on emergency measures. However spending over the last year has increased a bit more than has organic income, so spending growth might slow somewhat as the stimulus winds down. All told, I am optimistic that the recovery, though slow, will be self-sustaining.

US home forfeitures (23 Dec 2010) Foreclosure sales continued to fall steeply in November. Nevertheless, the number of loans 90 or more days delinquent continued to decline.

HAMP progress (23 Dec 2010) Currently the overall effect of HAMP on the housing market is small. But it is interesting that the total number of active modifications increased in November for the first time since March. I remain pessimistic about the positive long-term effects of the program, but this new development bears watching.

Inventory of existing US homes (22 Dec 2010) The inventory of existing homes on the US market dropped from a 10.5 month supply in October to a 9.5 month supply in November. This is still very high and suggests continued downward pressure on prices.

Fannie and Freddie delinquencies, mods and foreclosures (21 Dec 2010) In Q3 forfeitures continued to rise and the number of serious delinquencies to drop. It remains to be seen if this trend continues in Q4. In any case, home forfeitures will remain high for years.

US index of industrial production (15 Dec 2010) It seems fairly clear now that growth in manufacturing output is on a lower trend than it was early in the recovery, but still positive. This is consistent with (1) the inventory correction being over, but (2) the recovery continuing.

Historical prices of precious metals (15 Dec 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: Silver is 113% above its long-term average; gold 119%; palladium 149%; and platinum 96%. In all four cases, the fraction of time they have been more expensive than currently, over the last 40 years, is small.

US CPI (15 Dec 2010) The year-over-year change in what is sometimes called core inflation, that is, the Consumer Price Index with food and energy components removed, was running at 0.8% in September, dropped to 0.6% in October, and was back at 0.8% in November. These are insignificant changes, and the best summary is that core inflation is holding at a very low level.

US natural gas reserves (6 Dec 2010) US proved reserves were about 284 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of end 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration. Current gas prices affect this number, but it is fairly solid. If continually mined at 2009 production rates, 2009 reserves would last 12.6 years.

US employment (3 Dec 2010) In brief, the US employment situation is healing, but very, very slowly. There has been some recovery of lost jobs, but the number of jobs is still growing more slowly than the population, and full recovery will likely take years.

China PMI (1 Dec 2010) This is a new page, giving the history of both the public and private PMI measures for Jan 2008 - present. Both measures indicate the Chinese manufacturing sector is growing solidly.

World Trade Monitor NBEPA (25 Nov 2010) This is a new page. World trade experienced a rapid recovery but, in the last few months, growth has slowed considerably. On present data it could be that growth is merely coming back to a more sustainable pace. On the other hand, growth could be about to turn negative. This will be an important one to watch.

NIPA personal income (24 Nov 2010) Household organic income increased more in October than in June-September combined, suggesting that the economy is becoming less dependent on emergency measures. However spending over the last year has increased a bit more than has organic income, so spending growth might slow somewhat as the stimulus winds down. All told, I am optimistic that the recovery, though slow, will be self-sustaining.

US home forfeitures (23 Nov 2010) Foreclosure sales fell in October, as expected, given the legal challenges to flawed paperwork. The backlog of distressed loans had started to clear, but may rise again. At some point several years of high liquidations, or else millions of principal reductions, will be needed to clear the backlog of distressed loans.

Inventory of existing US homes (23 Nov 2010) Inventory in months of supply has improved for three months, but is still, at 10.5 months, similar to the worst levels of 2008. This almost guarantees further correction of prices.

Uranium supply (20 Nov 2010) Supply from weapons material, which now fills the gap between primary mine production and demand, is likely to fall off in 2013. In the long run, over several decades, there is almost certainly an abundance of resources in the ground that can be developed at prices not too far above current ones. Over the next few years, the Capital Markets group at Royal Bank of Canada estimate that a spot price around $75/lb of U3O8 will motivate a sufficient investment in mining.

HAMP progress (19 Nov 2010) HAMP is (1) adding to the foreclosure rate, and (2) no longer helping much with delinquencies. Treasury is still hoping that some lenders might start modifying second liens. The fraction of canceled trials going on to home forfeiture rose from 12.6% in May to 25.4% in Sep.

Historical prices of precious metals (17 Nov 2010) Of the four precious metals – silver, gold, platinum and palladium – palladium is currently the most expensive relative to its long-term, inflation-adjusted average. A possible supply shortage in 2011 is driving speculation.

US CPI (17 Nov 2010) Core inflation dropped to 0.6% year-over-year. Even so, deflation remains a remote danger.

Local government retirement funds (18 Nov 2010) Almost all of the focus, in research on state and local retirement plans, is on the states. For pension plans this is probably justified – only 10% of the combined membership is at the local level, and problems are entirely analogous. However there is some evidence that for retirement health care plans the problems at the local level are comparatively much more serious.

US index of industrial production (16 Nov 2010) Last month's drop was revised away, but there is still a pretty clear reduction in the trend rate of growth.

US employment (5 Nov 2010) The number of jobs is increasing. However the unemployment rate remains very high, and all indications are that the number of jobs will grow quite slowly. This will be a long, slow, recovery.

HAMP progress (25 Oct 2010) Looking only at foreclosures, HAMP had, for a while, a positive effect on the numbers. That went into reverse some time ago, and HAMP continues to raise the foreclosure rate. Beyond the foreclosure numbers, HAMP has done great harm to many borrowers, actually costing them more, ruining their credit scores, and making the loss of their houses more likely.

Inventory of existing US homes (25 Oct 2010) Inventory in number of homes stands at an elevated level, 4.0 million. Sales remain depressed in the aftermath of the tax incentive, so that, even though the inventory in months of supply has improved for two months, it is still, at 10.7 months, at a level last seen in 2008, at the depths of the crisis. This almost guarantees further correction of prices.

State retirement funds (23 Oct 2010) Unfunded obligations of state retirement funds, including both pensions and retiree health care, are in the neighborhood of $3 trillion. This is something like two years' worth of aggregate state income. On average, then, this is a heavy, but not crushing, debt load. Because politicians have delayed facing the issue, annual expenditures will rise. One reasonable projection puts pension plan contributions needing to increase by about 5% of aggregate budgets. Health plan expenditures are less well characterized, but might add another 2%, bringing the total adjustment to 7% of state budgets. The difficulties in both pension and retiree health plans are spread very unevenly. Some states face minor adjustment, and some will likely face adjustments of perhaps twice the average. For comparison, the drop in state tax revenues due to the recent crisis averaged about 10%.

US index of industrial production (18 Oct 2010) From the low point of the recession, the Index of Industrial Production recovered strongly, but (1) it is still 7% below the previous peak, and (2) growth has slowed and possibly even reversed.

Retirement fund discount rate (18 Oct 2010) (This is a new page.) Most pension plans are probably too optimistic about investment returns, when measuring whether current savings are adequate to meet future obligations. The two most important consequences of such optimistic assumptions are that (1) planners are leaving no margin of safety, leading to a risk that bad years in volatile investments could leave funds at least temporarily insolvent, and (2) if returns fail to live up to expectations, future taxpayers (for public funds) or shareholders (for corporate funds) could have to make up for a lack of previous saving.

Historical prices of precious metals (15 Oct 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: Silver is 80% above its long-term average; gold 118%; palladium 97%; and platinum 98%. There is opportunity for profit, but with no margin of safety. Be careful.

US CPI (15 Oct 2010) Core Consumer Price Inflation, which stood at 0.9% for the last few months, dropped in September to 0.8%. It may go further down but, on historical precedent and the aggressiveness of Bernanke, is unlikely to go negative. High inflation remains a long-term worry.

US home forfeitures (13 Oct 2010) Foreclosure sales continued to increase through September, but will likely fall from here. This is due to legal challenges to flawed paperwork. The backlog of distressed loans had started to clear, but will probably rise again. At some point several years of high liquidations, or else millions of principal reductions, will be needed to clear the backlog of distressed loans.

US employment (8 Oct 2010) Although the year-over-year change in the number of jobs is positive, at 0.2%, it is now below, and has been for a long time below, the neutral change of 1.0%. Further, recent month-to-month changes are discouraging, and the trend in initial unemployment claims suggests that the growth in jobs is likely to decelerate.

NIPA personal income (2 Oct 2010) Organic income, that is, household income apart from government transfer receipts, has been stagnant since May. Spending continues to rise, but only on government support. The government transfers are getting spent, as needed for recovery, but we are not there yet, with organic income failing to grow.

Mortgage Metrics report and US home forfeitures (24 Sep 2010) Home forfeitures continue to rise. The backlog of distressed loans continues to clear, however that result must be qualified. First, the current boost from HAMP is temporary. And second, something close to half of all the modified loans now marked as current will re-default.

Inventory of existing US homes (23 Sep 2010) The inventory of homes for sale in August would take 11.6 months to clear at the August sales rate. That is very high, and strongly suggests falling prices.

HAMP progress (22 Sep 2010) HAMP's long-term effects are minor, but it continues to effect the dynamics of delinquencies and liquidations (foreclosures + short sales). Delinquencies are still being pushed down, for now, and liquidations are being pushed up. Both these effects are waning, but will continue for some time.

Historical prices of precious metals (17 Sep 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver +53%; gold +103%; palladium +81%; platinum +88%. In all four cases, the fraction of time they have been more expensive than currently, over the last 40 years, is small.

US CPI (17 Sep 2010) Core CPI remains steady at 0.9% year-over-year. There is nothing in the CPI data to suggest imminent deflation.

US index of industrial production (15 Sep 2010) The weight of the evidence suggests that manufacturing is gradually decelerating in the US. But there is no clear deceleration yet in the Index of Industrial Production.

Fannie and Freddie delinquencies, mods and foreclosures (10 Sep 2010) Serious delinquencies are coming down but, since this is partly due to temporary effects from HAMP, progress will be slow. Home forfeitures are likely to remain high for several years.

US home forfeitures (10 Sep 2010) Q2 data is now available on Fannie and Freddie loans. Foreclosures, short sales, and deeds-in-lieu continued to rapidly increase.

Shale gas economics (5 Sep 2010) (This is a new page.) At current prices, most shale gas production is almost certainly unprofitable. Further, the excess supply from shale has caused conventional producers to reduce drilling. I will be surprised if we do not see the excess supply disappear, and gas prices rise substantially, by the end of 2011.

US employment (3 Sep 2010) Gains in jobs so far this year are below the rate needed to keep a fixed fraction of the population employed. All evidence is consistent with a painfully slow jobs recovery, lasting several more years.

US personal bankruptcies (2 Sep 2010) Personal bankruptcies, after appearing to level off in earlier quarters, rose again in Q2. With high job losses and coming house price drops, it is hard to see this situation improving soon.

US business bankruptcies (2 Sep 2010) Business bankruptcies continued to fall in Q2 of 2010. This is not unalloyed good news. Part of the fall was due to a flood of bond issuance that could just be delaying failures. And part was due to a lack of DIP financing, meaning more liquidations in place of bankruptcies.

US home forfeitures (31 Aug 2010) Foreclosure sales continue to increase. The backlog is probably really clearing now, but at a slow pace. A very rough calculation suggests several more years of high foreclosures. Both a high fraction of distressed sales and a high inventory suggest falling prices.

NIPA personal income (30 Aug 2010) Organic income – personal income less government transfers, adjusted for inflation and seasonal effects – grew very weakly in June and not at all in July. This is one more data point for stagnation in the second half. Spending did continue to increase, but this does not seem sustainable.

Inventory of existing US homes (24 Aug 2010) The inventory of homes on the market has been fairly stable for the last few months, when measured in absolute numbers. However with the sales rate falling off drastically following the end of the tax credit, the inventory in months of supply is up dramatically. This very likely implies a significant fall in prices.

Historical prices of precious metals (23 Aug 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver +33%; gold +95%; palladium +62%; platinum +75%. In all four cases, the fraction of time they have been more expensive than currently, over the last 40 years, is small.

US index of industrial production (17 Aug 2010) The Index of Industrial Production has grown strongly for over a year now, and this growth continued in the report for July.

US CPI (13 Aug 2010) Core inflation is steady at 0.9%. At the moment there is no indication of either inflation or deflation being a problem in the short term.

US employment (6 Aug 2010) Overall, the US employment situation is stagnant at a very low level. During the recession total employment fell 6% from the peak; currently net job increases are not enough even to keep up with population growth.

NIPA personal income (3 Aug 2010) Organic income, that is, personal income before taxes and without government transfer payments, grew substantially in April and May but was almost unchanged in June. This is not an encouraging sign for the underlying strength of recovery.

US home forfeitures (27 Jul 2010) The trend in distressed sales continues to be up.

HAMP progress (20 Jul 2010) HAMP is raising the liquidation rate in the short term, and its positive effect on delinquencies will be short-lived.

State and local government debt (19 Jul 2010) This is a new page, tracking total outstanding debt for US state and local governments. Debt grew in line with income until 2000 and then began to accumulate at a faster pace.

State and local balanced budget requirements (18 Jul 2010) This is a new background page about the legal requirements for state and local governments in the US to balance their budgets, and how this works in practice.

Historical prices of precious metals (16 Jul 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver +32%; gold +90%; palladium +50%; platinum +75%.

US CPI (16 Jul 2010) Core inflation remained, for a third month, at 0.9% year-over-year. Inflation remains a long-term worry but, in the short-term, even deflation is a possibility. However, although the resemblance to Japan is worrying, current leadership is unlikely to allow deflation.

US index of industrial production (15 Jul 2010) Industrial production in June was slightly weaker than in the previous few months, but the change was well within the range of random noise. A suggestion by some, that demand for business equipment will drive further growth, is not supported by the data.

Natural gas reserves (14 Jul 2010) Details were updated with the latest BP statistical review. No conclusions changed.

US employment (2 Jul 2010) The employment situation is improving but, truth be told, real recovery is still at the earliest stages.

US foreclosure mitigation efforts (30 Jun 2010) The associated complex of pages was updated. Foreclosures continue to rise; delinquencies may or may not be coming under control.

NIPA personal income (29 Jun 2010) This is a new page. Organic income, that is, household income before taxes and without transfers from the government, dropped steeply in the crisis but has increased significantly for the last two months. This is a sign of real recovery.

US personal bankruptcies (26 Jun 2010) This is a new page. A rise in personal bankruptcies since 2006 has been due to a combination of (1) the credit crisis and (2) a rebound after a change in the law caused a spike of filings in 2005 followed by a lull in 2006. Bankruptcies might or might not be leveling off now.

US business bankruptcies (26 Jun 2010) This is a new page. A steep rise in bankruptcies 2006-2009 was due both to the crisis and a change in the law. A fall in bankruptcies in the last year was due to high bond issuance and a tendency towards liquidation rather than bankruptcy.

US home forfeitures (23 Jun 2010) The upward trend in foreclosures and short sales continues to be confirmed via several indicators. Two different correlates of house prices suggest declines ahead.

Historical prices of precious metals (19 Jun 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver +42%; gold +100%; palladium +64%; platinum +85%.

US CPI (18 Jun 2010) Inflation remains benign – “core” inflation, that is, the consumer price index with food and energy components removed, remains at 0.9% year-over-year.

PMI background (2 Jun 2010) New page. The PMI and NMI are generally correlated with increases/decreases in output of the manufacturing and service sectors, but don't read too much into small changes.

US CPI (20 May 2010) Core inflation has remained under 3% YOY for years, and is now running at 0.9% year-over-year. In summary, there is nothing in the CPI to worry investors at the current time.

US index of industrial production (15 May 2010) Industrial production remains in strong recovery mode, though the index is still down 9% from the 2007 peak.

US home forfeitures (6 May 2010) The trend in sales of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) continues to be upward.

US index of industrial production (20 Apr 2010) Industrial production continues to recover, but is still 10% below the previous peak.

US foreclosure mitigation efforts (20 Apr 2010) Modification programs will have only a small effect in the long run. In the short run, it is interesting that the temporary effect of HAMP foreclosure freezes has peaked.

US CPI (14 Apr 2010) Core inflation remains benign, at 1.1% year-over-year.

National income and product accounts background (6 Apr 2010) This is a new page, giving an overview of the NIPA, the source of GDP and many of the common statistics on household finances.

NIPA imputed rent (4 Apr 2010) This is a new page, describing how the National Income and Product Accounts impute a gross rent expense from homeowners, and a net rent income to homeowners.

US employment (2 Apr 2010) It was a psychologically important breakthrough that jobs increased significantly in March. But data are still very much mixed, and all that is sure is that we are approximately at the bottom.

Mortgage Metrics report (25 Mar 2010) The latest report shows that the rise in serious delinquencies not only continues, but is not slowing down. There are still millions of foreclosures (or perhaps short sales) coming.

Uranium supply (21 Mar 2010) This is a new page. Uranium supply is adequate for now, but there could be future shortages, depending on political decisions around decommissioning of nuclear weapons.

US index of industrial production (19 Mar 2010) This is a new page. So far the recovery of the industrial sector is indeed V-shaped, but we are still 10% below the previous peak.

Historical prices of precious metals (18 Mar 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver 29% over the long-term average; gold 80% over; palladium 60%; platinum 90%.

US CPI (18 Mar 2010) Core inflation remains benign, at 1.3% year-over-year.

Natural gas reserves (16 Mar 2010) This is a new page on global gas reserves, with info on which countries have the main reserves, and how reserves are changing. In the future it will track the global shale gas story.

US foreclosure mitigation efforts (13 Mar 2010) On present trends, HAMP will rescue approximately 3% of all seriously delinquent loans from default. Unless something fundamental changes, the program will not make a major difference.

US employment (5 Mar 2010) The jobs market has more or less stabilized, but at a very low level. There are signs of hope, but no real recovery yet.

US temporary jobs (22 Feb 2010) This page has been updated to show the very high correlation between the year-over-year (YOY) change in temporary jobs and the YOY change in all employment 4 months later.

US foreclosure mitigation efforts (20 Feb 2010) HAMP, the main program, is still ramping up rapidly but, on present trends, may have only a 2% ultimate success rate.

Historical prices of precious metals (19 Feb 2010) Precious metals remain expensive compared to historical averages, adjusted for inflation: silver +20%; gold +80%; palladium +50%; platinum +80%.

US CPI (19 Feb 2010) CPI is volatile, due to energy, but the trend, shown by CPI less food and energy, is benign, at 1.6% year-over-year.

US natural gas reserves (9 Feb 2010) US proved reserves are about 240 trillion cubic feet (Tcf; current annual production is 21 Tcf). The total amount that will be produced is probably between 4 and 9 times this amount.

Unconventional gas background (9 Feb 2010) New background page on shale gas and related; new techniques have greatly increased the fraction of all occurring natural gas that can be recovered.

US employment (5 Feb 2010) Cumulative job losses from the recent recession have set a post-war record, but at least it seems fairly clear that we are somewhere near the bottom.

Large scale mortgage modification (26 Jan 2010) As of December, only 66 thousand HAMP modifications had been completed, compared to millions of seriously delinquent loans.