Monday, October 20, 2014

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 0.4% year-over-year in August

by Bill McBride on 10/20/2014 08:58:00 AM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by 0.4% (1.0 billion vehicle miles) for August 2014 as compared with August 2013.

Travel for the month is estimated to be 267.8 billion vehicle miles.

Cumulative Travel for 2014 changed by 0.6% (11.1 billion vehicle miles).
The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

The rolling 12 month total is still mostly moving sideways ...

Vehicle Miles Click on graph for larger image.

In the early '80s, miles driven (rolling 12 months) stayed below the previous peak for 39 months.

Currently miles driven has been below the previous peak for 81 months - almost 7 years - and still counting.  Currently miles driven (rolling 12 months) are about 2.0% below the previous peak.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change from the same month in the previous year.

Vehicle Miles Driven YoY In August 2014, gasoline averaged of $3.57 per gallon according to the EIA.  That was down from August 2013 when prices averaged $3.65 per gallon.

Prices will really be down year-over-year for September and October.

Of course gasoline prices are just part of the story.  The lack of growth in miles driven over the last 7 years is probably also due to the lingering effects of the great recession (high unemployment rate and lack of wage growth), the aging of the overall population (over 55 drivers drive fewer miles) and changing driving habits of young drivers.

With all these factors, it might take a few more years before we see a new peak in miles driven - but it does seem like miles driven is now increasing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Night Futures

by Bill McBride on 10/19/2014 09:01:00 PM

From Merrill Lynch on Oil:

The plunge in oil prices, if it proves persistent, could end up being the big economic story. Energy prices have fallen very sharply in the past three months. Brent oil prices have declined from around $110/bbl in July to $86/bbl as this goes to print. It takes a few weeks for the full pass-through to gasoline and other refined products, but this would imply a drop of about 70 cents for a gallon of gas by year end.

How much does this boost growth? At first sight, not very much. After all, the US is becoming increasingly energy independent. The monthly energy trade deficit dropped to just $13.1bn in August. For argument’s sake, if we assume the trend since 2008 continues, the deficit will be zero by late 2018 ... Hence, the windfall of lower prices to consumers is almost matched by the loss to producers. Nonetheless, we would expect a net stimulus to growth in the near term. The big oil producers are flush with profits and cash. ... With such a large cushion of savings, we would expect them to respond slowly to weaker profit growth. Of course, if oil prices remain very low, over time, this will discourage investment and eventually lower the growth in oil production.

By contrast, consumers will likely respond quickly to the saving in energy costs. Many families live “hand to mouth”, spending whatever income is available. ... formal models suggest ... the $25/bbl drop in the price of oil can add roughly 0.4pp to real GDP growth over the next two years.
Schedule for Week of October 19th

From CNBC: Pre-Market Data and Bloomberg futures: currently the S&P futures are up 10 and DOW futures are up about 100 (fair value).

Oil prices were down over the last week with WTI futures at $83.39 per barrel and Brent at $86.43 per barrel.  A year ago, WTI was at $102, and Brent was at $109 - so prices are down close to 20%  year-over-year.

Below is a graph from for nationwide gasoline prices. Nationally prices are around $3.12 per gallon (down more than 20 cents from a year ago).  If you click on "show crude oil prices", the graph displays oil prices for WTI, not Brent; gasoline prices in most of the U.S. are impacted more by Brent prices.

Orange County Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by

Hamilton: "How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices?"

by Bill McBride on 10/19/2014 11:09:00 AM

Some interesting thoughts from Professor Hamilton: How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices?

Oil prices (along with prices of many other commodities) have fallen dramatically since last summer. Some observers are waiting to see if Saudi Arabia responds with significant cutbacks in production. I say, don’t hold your breath.
Last week I discussed the three main factors in the recent fall in oil prices: (1) signs of a return of Libyan production to historical levels, (2) surging production from the U.S., and (3) growing indications of weakness in the world economy.

As far as Libya is concerned, the politics on the ground remain quite unsettled. It makes sense to wait and see if anticipated production gains are really going to hold before anybody makes major adjustments.

In terms of surging U.S. production, the key question is how low the price can get before significant numbers of U.S. producers decide to pull out. If world economic growth indeed slows, and if most of the frackers are willing to keep going strong even if the price falls to $80 a barrel, trying to maintain the price at $90 could be a losing bet for the Saudis. They’d be giving up their own revenue just in order to keep the money flowing into ever-growing operations in Texas and North Dakota.

And if some of the U.S. producers do move into the red at current prices, it’s in the Saudis’ longer-term interests to let that pain take its toll until some of the newcomers decide to pack up and go home. If U.S. production does decline, prices would quickly move back up. But if that happens after a shake-out, the next time there would be less enthusiasm for everybody to jump into the game if they always have to keep an eye on whether they might be undercut again. This may be less of an issue for the U.S. tight oil producers, who can move in or out much more easily than operations like deepwater or artic, where there are huge fixed costs, long lead times, and a much bigger unavoidable loss if you gamble on prices always staying high.

And as for worries of another global economic downturn, so far they are only that– worries. If and when we see a downturn materialize, then I would expect to see the Saudis cut back production.

But until then it’s primarily a question of responding to surging output of U.S. tight oil. My guess is that Saudi Arabia would lower prices rather than cut production as long as that’s the name of the game.
emphasis added

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Schedule for Week of October 19th

by Bill McBride on 10/18/2014 01:11:00 PM

The key reports this week are September New home sales on Friday, and Existing home sales on Tuesday.

For prices, CPI will be released on Wednesday.

----- Monday, October 20th -----

No releases scheduled.

----- Tuesday, October 21st -----

Existing Home Sales10:00 AM: Existing Home Sales for September from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The consensus is for sales of 5.09 million on seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) basis. Sales in August were at a 5.05 million SAAR. Economist Tom Lawler estimates the NAR will report sales of 5.14 million SAAR.

A key will be the reported year-over-year increase in inventory of homes for sale.

10:00 AM: Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly) for September 2014

----- Wednesday, October 22nd -----

7:00 AM: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

8:30 AM: Consumer Price Index for September. The consensus is for no change in CPI in September and for core CPI to increase 0.1%.

During the day: The AIA's Architecture Billings Index for September (a leading indicator for commercial real estate).

----- Thursday, October 23rd -----

8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims to increase to 285 thousand from 264 thousand.

8:30 AM ET: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for September. This is a composite index of other data.

9:00 AM: FHFA House Price Index for August. This was originally a GSE only repeat sales, however there is also an expanded index. The consensus is for a 0.3% increase.

11:00 AM: the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey for October.

----- Friday, October 24th -----

New Home Sales10:00 AM: New Home Sales for September from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows New Home Sales since 1963. The dashed line is the August sales rate.

The consensus is for a decrease in sales to 460 thousand Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) in September from 504 thousand in August.

Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 426 Institutions

by Bill McBride on 10/18/2014 08:15:00 AM

This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources.

Here is the unofficial problem bank list for Oct 17, 2014.

Changes and comments from surferdude808:

Unexpectedly, there was a bank failure today. Expectedly, the OCC provided us an update on their enforcement action activities through September. For the week, there were four removals and one addition that leave the Unofficial Problem Bank List at 426 institutions with assets of $135.5 billion. A year ago, the list held 677 institutions with assets of $236.8 billion.

The OCC terminated actions against Heartland National Bank, Sebring, FL ($309 million); First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Kewanee, Kewanee, IL ($66 million); and American Loan and Savings Association, Hannibal, MO ($5 million). Also, the OCC issued a Formal Agreement against Homestead Savings Bank, Albion, MI ($72 million).

NBRS Financial, Rising Sun, MD ($191 million) became the 15th bank failure this year. At the 41st week of the year, the pace of 15 failures matches approximates the 16 failures at the 41st week of 2008. This is well under the 129 failures at the same point in 2010.

Since publication of the Unofficial Problem Bank List in August 2009, 384 banks on the list have been removed because of failure. This trails actual failures of 410 over the same period. Thus, there have been 26 banks that have failed without being under a published enforcement action.

We anticipate for the FDIC to provide an update on its enforcement action activities on the last Friday of the month on the 31st. So next week will likely see few changes to list.
CR Note: The first unofficial problem bank list was published in August 2009 with 389 institutions. The list peaked at 1,002 institutions on June 10, 2011, and is now down to 426.

Last 10 Posts