September 17 is fast approaching. In fact, by the time you read this, it may already have been and gone. Why is that date so important? Because that’s when the next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve is scheduled to meet, with an announcement concerning interest rates to follow.
The federal funds rate hasn’t been altered from a range of 0.00% to 0.25% since December 16, 2008, nearly seven years ago. In mid-summer of this year, there seemed to be a strong likelihood the Fed would begin shifting yields higher in September. Then world stock markets fell into disarray as growth projections for China’s economy were scaled back and the yuan was devalued, slightly.
If the fed temporarily delays pulling the trigger out of concern over fragile world trade, the next FOMC meeting dates to mark on your calendar are October 28 and December 16 of this year and January 27 of 2016. Odds are pretty good that somewhere in that time frame, the fed will initiate tighter credit market action.
The Fed’s decision-making will take place against a backdrop that includes the following economic nuggets, as revealed in government reports and through media dissemination. Read the rest of this entry »
This Economy at a Glance examines the most interesting and surprising data from the latest U.S. foreign trade report.
(1) U.S. Oil Imports: Due to the rapid emergence of a domestic hydraulic fracturing industry, plus efficiency improvements and conservation-minded consumer behavior, there is nothing like the former U.S. energy-dependency with the rest of the world.
The steep drop in the global price of oil from a year ago, combined with some extreme exchange rate fluctuations, have rendered the dollar figures on U.S. energy trade confusing.
However, ‘Exhibit 17a’, in July’s publication, released jointly by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), presents the data in ‘barrels’.
‘Barrels’ as a volume measurement carry the same constant-valued connotation as ‘units’ for both housing starts and motor vehicle sales and ‘square footage’ for construction activity.
Year to date, through July of this year, Canada − by a considerable margin − accounted for the largest proportion of U.S. crude oil imports (41.2%). (Keep in mind that this has been without a go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.) Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, there are ongoing caveats concerning the U.S. economy – a disproportionate number of part-time as opposed to full-time jobs; high levels of student debt; the psychological hangover of recession-era foreclosures in the housing market; etc. Nevertheless, proof of greater strength is everywhere.
The bellwether initial jobless claims figure has been below 300,000 for 24 weeks in a row. This proxy measure for layoffs, during the week ending July 18, fell to its lowest level since 1973, when total employment was nothing like as high as it is now.
In both June and July of this year, total housing starts in America climbed above 1.2 million units (annualized) for the first time since before the recession. This was the logical result of residential building permits bettering 1.3 million units (annualized) in June.
And the almighty ‘greenback’ has become even more powerful, soaring above every other major currency, mostly by percentage changes that are in double-digits-plus.
Who can doubt that there’s an exchange-rate war underway? Almost all the world’s currencies have fallen to one degree or another versus the U.S. ‘greenback’. One of the few hold-outs, until recently, was China. Now, even Beijing has stepped back from parity.
The cries of alarm, though, have been overblown. If the yuan’s reduction doesn’t stray significantly from -2%, it won’t play a huge role in promoting China’s exports. To site an example from the retail sector, nobody ever holds a sale announcing that prices have been ‘slashed’ by 2%. If the slide continues and reaches -10%, that’ll be another story.
Since most commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, they will become slightly more expensive for Chinese buyers. This is another knock against owning the shares of companies engaged in supplying raw materials at this time. A deeper concern, though is what this says about the state of China’s economy. An output growth rate that was once 10% to 12% has slowed to a range of 6% to 7%. And that’s if China’s ‘official’ statistics are to be believed.
We are exhibiting at the 2015 AIA Convention in Atlanta on May 14-15 at our booth #2878 and we are recording video interviews at our booth. Let me know if you want to book a 15-minute time slot for you or someone from your firm. Interview opportunities are open to all attendees, architects, and exhibitors.
As we said a little over a month ago, we have witnessed the ongoing and perpetual consolidation of the CAD/CAM industry as companies continue to get swallowed up by others.
We’ve witnessed CAD companies acquiring CAD/CAM companies, simulation companies acquiring CAD companies, and other types of technical software and service companies acquiring CAD/CAM companies. With all the attention seemingly focused on the CAD/CAM side, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there also has been a significant consolidation through acquisition on other sides of technical software as well over the past several years. In other words, with these other acquisitions technical software circles of all types continue to get smaller.
This time around its 3D scanning giant, FARO Technologies, and its recent acquisitions of kubit (AEC point cloud processing software) and ARAS 360 (crime reconstruction/forensic software). Founded in 1981, FARO Technologies Inc. develops and markets portable 3D measurement systems for computer-aided manufacturing measurement.
Join AU’s own Lynn Allen for a candid conversation with technologists from Dell, HP, and Intel. Learn how new and emerging technologies are affecting and enhancing the way we work with Autodesk® design and creation suites, and more.
Hear near-term technology predictions from technologists from leading companies
Learn how leading technology companies approach workstations, cloud computing, mobility, innovation, the Internet of things and big data, and 3D printing
Join Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski as they present the trends and forces shaping the future of making things. Carl will talk about new ways to communicate and even collaborate with our computers, which are blurring the lines between the digital and physical worlds. Jeff will explore how we’re bringing life to design through robust design taxonomies, generative design, and our emerging power to create things that can sense, respond, and collaborate. Read the rest of this entry »