Friday, October 23, 2009

Existing Home Sales: "Nothing Is But What Is Not" (to quote Shakespeare)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR)  released a bubbly report today which showed that existing home sales increased in September by 9.4% over August and 9.2% over last September.  Please note that this is based on the NAR's "seasonally adjusted annualized" estimates.  I have no idea how that number is calculated, but I'm positive that "seaonal adjustments" and "annualization" of any data series leaves plenty of room for editorial license on the part of the person calculating them.

A closer look at the data, however, shows that not seasonally adjusted monthly sales for September shows a MUCH DIFFERENT STORY.   Sales actually dropped 5.2% vs. August and were up 7.8% vs. last year. The median price dropped 8.5 vs. September 2008.  Here is the NAR's data link:  Existing home sales

Hmmm.  What do we do with the discrepency?  If you are the NAR and the and NAHB (Nat'l Assoc of Homebuilders) you start lobbying extra hard in front of Congress (note: this means giving huge campaign contributions to key Congressmen) using the hocus pocus seasonally adjusted mickey mouse number, claiming that the home buyer tax credit program is working.

I would suggest that the unadjusted monthly number, not the seasonally adjusted annualized number, is more likely to be the accurate snapshot of existing home sales.  It would also reflect the seasonal reality that homes sales typically drop after Labor Day.  It's clear to me that NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, and his band of merry fraudsters, took their abacus and calculators and crafted a number which would "demonstrate" - to well-paid-off members of Congress who are looking at extending the home buyer taxpayer payer program - that the program needs to be extended.

Looking at the unadjusted, actual month-to-month number, it's clear that the tax credit has stimulated some home sales.  Furthermore, there was a rush to go into contract and secure financing before the exiting legislation expires at the end of November.  I would also argue that, without completely throwing out any measure of credit worthiness and allowing anyone capable of fogging a mirror to get a mortgage and use the tax credit (all the fraud uncovered notwithstanding) that a large majority of those who were planning on buying a first home have probably done so this summer.

To me, the numbers released today by the NAR unequivocally reflect the massive fraud, corruption and deceit going on at all levels of our economic and political system.  To book-end with another quote from "Macbeth," I would say with regard to Lawrence Yun, and anyone else promoting today's existing homes sales numbers as anything less than fantasy: 
"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


  1. Hi Dave never got that gold report my mail came back as spam but lol anyway Russia is going to be selling gold.

  2. Hey Lori. I don't recall getting an email from you. You can try again:

    Send me an email flag my email address as a permitted email address and I'll send you the report. It's 3 pages in PDF form.

    As for the Russian thing, several people familiar with how the Russians operate have questioned the validity of the report. However, try out a free 2 week subscription (only need an email address, no credit card required) to Read the nightly posting under the James Joyce table every night (it's known as the Midas Report). Bill Murphy is the co-founder and Chairman of GATA. Anyone who wants to have any hope of understanding the gold market needs to read this report every night. I've been reading it for about 7 years now and it is invaluable. Plus, a lot of my commentary is posted there LOL.

    Anyway, this is my take on the Russian thing, IF it is indeed bona fide (this will probably be posted in tonight's Midas):

    Who cares? IF it IS really for sale, they have a neighbor directly to the south who is overstuffed with dollars and who I'm sure will be interested in buying the entire lot. The question is, IF the suspected global shortage of physical bullion is bona fide, would Russia demand a large premium to spot for this chunk of gold? Perhaps Russia wrapped this offer in Christmas lights in order to create a bidding frenzy.

    If the view that there is truly a physical shortage of gold and silver that has developed globally is bona fide, the sale of this chunk of Russian gold at premium to spot will confirm that view.

    (one more point, the entity supposedly selling is not the Russian Central Bank itself. In fact, the Russian CB bought 400,000 ounces of gold in September, which is a little over 11 tons).

  3. Sales were up year-over-year, I believe.

  4. Yes, I noted in my commentary that sales September to September were up 7.4%. However it's easy math - Sept '08 home sales were unusually depressed. Add to that the notion that people were rushing to get a contract signed and financed before the tax credit expires and you have a very easy comp Sept/Sept. In fact, it could be argued, in light of the b.s. seasonally adjusted, annualized number, that 7.4% rise Sept/Sept is pretty ugly.