The Surprising Comeback of Retail

I live in suburbia. My town just outside of New Orleans looks like every other suburb in America, replete with good schools, a vibrant restaurant scene, and plenty of traffic at rush hour and during school times. My wife and I moved here 32 years ago, escaping the challenges of urban living—crime and potholes—for the comfort and security of life…

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The Other Shoe Drops

In the last half of April, there were a couple of seminal economic events that, taken together, mark an example of proverbial shoes dropping, and for the first time in years, marks a cautionary signal on the economy. The first shoe to drop was when Fed Chairman Jay Powell unexpectedly announced that firmer-than-expected inflation during the first quarter has called…

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The Outlook For Housing Looks Promising This Year

All the arrows are pointing to an even stronger housing market in 2024 than many had expected, and this prospect is streaming through all manner of indicators, from builder confidence to buyer motivation. And this beyond the fact that interest rates have barely moved; the widespread enthusiasm is driven by the promise of three interest rate cuts in 2024 which…

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All Arrows Are Pointing to a Stronger Economy in 2024

There has been a confluence of events and happenings in the past few weeks that, when taken together, portend a much healthier new year in 2024 than anyone could have imagined as recently as just this past fall. First, news about inflation has surprised everyone, as we witnessed a sharp decline in the rate of inflation in just the last…

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Goofy Ideas

I have written in the past about Hans Christian Anderson’s famous folktale from the 1830s, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and some recent events prompt me to remind readers about this very instructive lesson in life. The story relates a tale of two swindlers who arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense…

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Consumer Confidence Contrasts with Economic Growth

As I have written many times in the past, we pay close attention to both the Conference Board’s monthly measure of consumer confidence, as well as a similar measure from the University of Michigan which they characterize as consumer sentiment. Both descriptions are really interchangeable, as they measure how consumers feel about the times, both politically and economically. We publish…

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Our Industry Needs to Recommit to Blunting the Lumber Threat

By Pierre G. Villere I can tell you that of all the things I have aspired to in life, being a lumber dealer has never been one of them. Goodness, the fluctuations in prices is far worse than dispensing gasoline at a convenience store, and now thousands of lumber dealers have seen their standing inventory significantly devalued because of the…

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The Sentiment Conundrum

Okay, class, what have you learned from my years of teaching and lecturing around our industry about sentiment? That’s right: sentiment is self-fulfilling. It is remarkably interesting to watch what has occurred since March, when inflation continued to be reported as being stubbornly persistent, and the Fed, like me, changed their view that the rise in prices was not transient…

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