Weekly Economic Update

Last week’s Retail Sales report fell short of expectations and revealed a 0.4 percent decrease. This is the second monthly decline, with many retailers citing harsh weather as the reason for the decline.

In housing news, RealtyTrac noted that January was the 40th month in a row of declining foreclosure activity.

Bottom Line for Mortgages:

The Federal Reserve is watching economic headlines closely as they weigh the decision to continue winding down the bond-buying programs that have kept rates low. Less than positive reports will have an impact on their decisions. 



President’s Day Trivia

The third Monday in February is designated in the United States as Washington’s Birthday, more commonly known as Presidents’ Day. This list looks at facts and traditions surrounding the celebration of this holiday.

1. Not Officially Presidents’ Day

Mount Rushmore National Monument
As stated in the introduction, the federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February is not officially called Presidents’ Day. Instead, it is Washington’s Birthday. There was an attempt in 1968 to officially name it Presidents’ Day. However, this suggestion died in committee. Many states, however, choose to call their own celebration on this day “Presidents’ Day.”

2. Washington’s Birthday Celebrated During Washington’s Lifetime

Many across the newly formed United States celebrated Washington’s Birthday in the 17th century while George Washington was still alive. However, it wasn’t until 1885 that Chester Arthur signed the bill that made it a federal holiday.

3. Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday is Not a Federal Holiday

Even though many states celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday concurrently with Washington’s birthday, it is not a federally designated holiday.

4. Cherries, Cherries, and More Cherries

Traditionally, many celebrated and continue to celebrate Washington’s Birthday with desserts made with cherries. Cherry pie, cherry cake, bread made with cherries, or just a huge bowl of cherries are often enjoyed on this day. Of course, this relates to the apocryphal story that Washington would not tell a lie when asked if he cut down a cherry tree.

5. Shopping and Sales

One thing that many people connect with Presidents’ Day is retail sales. In the 1980s, retailers began to use this holiday as a time to clear out their old stock in preparation for spring and summer. One wonders what George Washington would have thought about this celebration of his birthday.

6. Reading of Washington’s Farewell Address

On February 22nd of almost every year since 1888, Washington’s Farewell Address has been read in the US Senate. While this does not happen on Presidents’ Day, it is an annual celebration of Washington’s Birthday that stems from 1862 when the Address was read as a way to boost morale during the Civil War. This address was and is so important because it warns of political factionalism, geographical sectionalism, and interference by foreign powers in the nation’s affairs. Washington stressed the importance of national unity over sectional differences.

Weekly Economic Update

Last week’s jobs report disappointed markets after it revealed that only 113,000 jobs were added in January. The December jobs report was also revised upward by a paltry 1,000 jobs. The Labor Force Participation Rate continues to remain at historic lows, which should be moving higher in a recovery.

Bottom Line for Mortgages:

Mortgage rates did improve on the weak jobs news. With the recent trend of disappointing economic reports, everyone will be focused on what the Fed decides to do at their next meeting on March 18-19th. 

Mortgage rates are still near historic lows as we start the week. 


Weather Humor


60 -Californians put on sweaters(if they can find one in their wardrobe) 
50 -Miami residents turn on the heat 
40 -You can see your breath, Californians shiver uncontrollably Minnesotans go swimming. 
35 -Italian cars don’t start 
32 -Water freezes 
30 -You plan your vacation to Australia, Minnesotans put on T-shirts, Politicians begin to worry about the homeless, British cars don’t start 
25 -Boston water freezes, Californians weep pitiably, Minnesotans eat ice cream, Canadians go swimming 
20 -You can hear your breath, Politicians begin to talk about the homeless, New York City water freezes, Miami residents plan vacation further south 
15 -French cars don’t start, You plan a vacation in Mexico, Cat insists on sleeping in your bed with you                                               10 -Too cold to ski, You need jumper cables to get your car going                                                                                                        5 -You plan your vacation in Houston, American cars don’t start                                                                                                             0 -Alaskans put on T-shirts, too cold to skate                                                                                                                                      -10 -German cars don’t start, Eyes freeze shut when you blink 

-15 -You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo, Arkansas residents stick tongues to metal objects, Miami residents cease to exist 
-20 -Cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you, Politicians actually do something about the homeless, Minnesotans shovel snow off roof, Japanese cars don’t start 
-25 -Too cold to think, You need jumper cables to get driver going 
-30 -You plan a two week hot bath, The Mighty Monongajela freezes. Swedish cars don’t start 
-40 -Californians disappear, Minnesotans button top button, Canadians put on sweaters, your car helps you plan your trip south 
-50 -Congressional hot air freezes, Alaskans close the bathroom window 
-60 -Hell freezes over, Polar bears move south!! 

The OTHER Annotated Thermometer…

40 Siberians melt. 
50 Scandinavians sweat. 
70 Alaskans declare record heatwave. Californians rise from hibernation. 
80 Canadians turn on the air conditioning full blast. Arizona residents stop shivering. 
90 Death Valley residents awaken. Scandinavians go underground. 
100 British start sacrificing goats to make the sun go away. Californians finally turn off the heaters. 
105 Texans drink coffee. Alaskans melt. 
110 Arabians awaken and thaw. Canadians weep. New Yorkers burst open street fire hydrants. 
120 Australians notice the sun is out. All Europeans and Canadians spontaneously combust. 
130 Too hot to think. Texans and Californians undo top button. Antarctica is gone, polar bears extinct. 
150 Miami residents put on sunglasses. Texans turn on the fan. 
200 Arizona children amuse themselves by dropping eggs on sidewalk and giggle while they fry. 
212 Water Boils. Death Valley residents put on deodorant. 
327 Lead Boils. Okies notice it is warm out. 
345 Saharans comment that the sand is a little stingy today. 
400 Camels die. 
2000 Nuclear blast nominal yield. 


Weekly Economic Update

We received a mix of good and bad housing news last week, with Pending Home Sales down 8.7 percent in December, but builders reported a strong year with an estimated 428,000 new homes sold in 2013.

CoreLogic also reported that foreclosure activity declined 14 percent from last year.

The Gross Domestic Product report for the fourth quarter came in at 3.2 percent, which was above expectations.

Bottom Line for Mortgages:

Last week’s Fed announcement and declining stock prices helped mortgage rates. The Fed announced they will continue to taper their bond-buying program by $10 billion per month, as planned. The Fed’s next meeting will be March 18-19th.

Mortgage rates remain favorable as we start the week.