The auto industry miasma is driving a lot of bad news elsewhere. Last week there was a little bit about how US Steel us laying off 677 folks across all of North America. That probably came out to less than 100 folks here. I suspect there will be more to come, but in Indiana they are already there. Another steel company is looking at over 2,400 layoffs at a single plant there mostly because of the auto industry derived collapse in steel demand. That sure sounds familiar and are more Pittsburgh-like recession numbers. They know what we know that "Communities brace for ripple effect of steelworker layoffs", a headline that was probably written here hundreds of times. There is no sugar coating the state of the steel industry right now, though I did read about the Obama plan to ramp up infrastructure spending. Lots of infrastructure uses lots of steel.
******on casinos, which does not have a Detroit theme other than the fact that Detroit's Greektown casino is running out of cash... Not very long ago some folks were perturbed that the original losers in the casino bidding process didn't get a chance to rebid for the license that Don Barden sold off just this month. well... via Writes Like She Talks is a pointer to this blog entry about one of the two other bidders way back when: Forest City Enterprises is having it's own financial problems which is impacting its other projects. So Barden might have been a first mover into financial oblivion, but it's unclear any of the other original bidders would now be in a position to push our casino forward anyway.
But back to real estate. Out yesterday was this article from the AP. According to ever more real estate metrics they compiled:
There were some bright spots among the Northeast cities in the AP-Re/Max report.Pittsburgh posted a modest year-over-year price gain of more than 1 percent in October, the only metro area to record appreciation. Its inventory also fell by a quarter from a year ago. However, sales there were down almost 27 percent.
Price up? "only metro".... "inventory down".... wait a second. Wasn't the local news on this recently reporting quotes from folks about how the lower number of sales being recorded must be pushing real estate inventory levels skyward exponentially. The implication that the prices are soon to be pushed down as a result.. Yet this metric says inventory is actually down substantially (down by a quarter is a lot and ought to be a pretty big story unto itself) despite lower sales? Something just isn't right. Somebody has something just plain backwards. If that data is even half right, then go back and re-read this story from last week on what slower rate of real estate sales mean for the region.
As bad as the near term outlook for steel is, how about other manufacturing in town? There is even evidence that Westinghouse alone is having an impact across a number of local manufacturers who still are still more pressed to find workers than to lay them off. Not all good news of course and some local firms can't escape worldwide demand slumps in a lot of commodity products.
But there is a lot of positive news in the nuclear industry of late, impending worldwide depression or not. See for example how just an order placed by Westinghouse for some nuclear power plant components made news in the UK. If they are excited by the order placed for a single component??? Also from the UK, the construction industry is looking at their piece of the pie: Gearing up for the £30 billion nuclear boom. Here in the US it is a similar story. In Tennesse last week the ramp up of construction for the Watts Bar nuclear plant made news in itself. That plant already has a Westinghouse reactor and when it opens it will be the first nuclear reactor to open in the US since 1996.
Actually, back to real estate and how the fear out there has everyone's logic all convoluted on what declining sales mean for the region. The confusion of supply vs. demand among even the professionals is everywhere. So as much as I mike quibble with the media stories, they are just duly reporting what the experts are telling you even if it is all a bit backwards. Lest I confuse you more, Seeking Alpha explains the confusion out there and in the media reporting on real estate markets better than my rambling. See:
They actually mention one local Pittsburgh story in their list of examples.