1. The Department of Commerce reported today that shipments of manufactured durable goods increased in December to an all-time high of $230.6 billion. In nominal dollars, that’s a new monthly record for shipments of durable goods from US manufacturers, and surpasses the previous record of $229.7 billion established in January 2008 near the onset of the Great Recession. See chart above and related commentary from Scott Grannis and First Trust Advisors.
2. In another sign of strong economic performance from America’s manufacturing sector, the Chicago Fed reported today that factory output in the Midwest finished last year with a strong increase of 6.2% in December from a year earlier. Manufacturing output in the five-state area of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin grew at more than twice the national rate of 2.7% last year, led by an especially strong gain in Midwest automotive output last year of almost 17% (compared to 10.2% nationally).
3. From last Thursday’s weekly rail traffic report, shipments of oil were up by 61%, lumber by 16%, and motor vehicles by +19% (all vs. the same week last year), as energy, housing, and automotive manufacturing continue to be three of the strongest sectors of the US economy.
Speaking of the booming energy sector, here are two items providing more evidence that the shale gas revolution is delivering a powerful energy-driven stimulus to the US economy.
5. And it’s not just consumers who are benefiting from America’s abundant shale gas. The AP is reporting that private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming lives and livelihoods even as the windfall provides only a modest boost to the broader economy. In Pennsylvania alone, royalty payments could top $1.2 billion for 2012.
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.