Quarterly Economic Update


The Leopard View is a quarterly economic update for our network with key current assertions plus commentary. From the most recent edition...


Current Economic Assertions and Changes (30 May 2019)

10-year U.S. Treasury rate is 2.27%, down 48 basis points (bps) or 17.45%

WSJ prime rate is 5.50%, unchanged; up 75 bps or 15.79% year over year

Real U.S. GDP growth (annualized BEA) for Q1 2019 is 3.2%; annual growth rates over the past 3 years:

2018 – 2.9%

2017 – 2.2%

2016 – (the last year of the Obama presidency) – 1.6%

CPI inflation 2.0% for 12 months ended April

The U.S. Dollar vs major currencies index (trade weighted, FRED) is 92.78, up 4.25% from one year ago

U.S. unemployment is 3.6%, down 7.69% from one year ago; the highest unemployment rate of the past decade was 10.0% in Oct 2009; initial jobless claims as a percent of the labor force hit a new record low (data to 1967) at 0.13%. The Civilian Labor Force has increased 114.47% from 76MM January 1967 to 163MM today (US population increased 66.43% during this period)

Labor force participation is 62.8%, unchanged from one year ago; historical peak was 67% Q1 2000

Brent crude oil price is $73.21 per barrel, up 9.42% from last quarter and down 6.6% from a year ago

U.S. real household debt as a percentage of assets is 13.0%, up 4.84%; historical peak was approximately 20% in 2008/2009

U.S. net government debt to GDP 88.0%, unchanged U.S. equities (broad market) are up 14.02% YTD, up 5.03% trailing 12 months

Corporate profits are up 2.48% year-over-year (Q4 2018, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

S&P Case-Schiller U.S. National Home Price Index is 205.04, up 3.12% year-over-year through February 2019, 11.06% greater than previous peak of 184.62 in July 2006

S&P Case-Schiller Las Vegas Home Price Index is 190.19 (down .04% since our last report), up 9.71% year-over-year through February 2019, 18.97% lower than previous peak of 234.71 September 2006



Current Situation: My current concern is the status of trade negotiations, particularly with China and also with our North American trading partners. One speculation is that the current US political disharmony is incentivizing the Chinese to go slow on committing to a new trade agreement. Chinese leadership historically takes a long view on all issues and could be assessing they can wait and get a better deal in the future from a more liberal US government. Meanwhile, we should plan on tariffs and their dampening effects on the economy being here a while.

A question I’m considering: How will the “rules of the game” change if trade conflicts persist or are resolved in an unfavorable manner?

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.” Plutarch