Macro Briefing: 31 August 2022

* Russia stops gas flow to Germany, allegedly for maintenance purposes
* Eurozone consumer inflation rises to new record high annual rate: +9.1%
* China factory activity contracted for a second month in August
* US life expectancy fell for a second year in 2021 due to Covid-19
* US dollar on track for third straight monthly gain vs. basket of currencies
* Growth of US home prices eased in June but annual pace is still strong
* US Consumer Confidence Index rose in August after three monthly declines
* US job openings rebounded in August, holding near peak level:

US housing recession has started, says economist. “I think we’re in a housing recession right now,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “After a year and a half of post-Covid housing strength, this isn’t just a retrenchment to a more normalized trend — this is definitely a weakening.” Hints of a peak are emerging in housing prices, although the annual rate of increases is still high. In June, the year-over-year change in the S&P/Case-Shiller US Home Price Index slipped for a second month to +18.0%, the lowest in over a year.

Goldman Sachs is also forecasting weakness for housing. In a new report, the bank forecasts a decline in private residential fixed investment for this year and in the 2023:

The soft-landing scenario for the US economy is dead, advises Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG LLP. Following the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium last week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell “buried the concept of a soft landing,” she says. “The Fed’s goal is to grind inflation down by slowing growth below its potential.” Among Powell’s hawkish comments, he explained: “Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth. Moreover, there will very likely be some softening of labor market conditions” — widely seen as a euphemism for higher unemployment.”