Hey, remember when the stock market used to be a harbinger of things to come? There was a time when stocks would make big moves that almost always predicted the US economy over the next six to twelve months. What if that's happening right now while everyone else is focused on the rearview mirror stuff and voodoo monetary policies?
There are some signs things are getting better in the building sector and curiously the at American Institute of Architects. Billings index for March were down from February, but billings are still increasing (reading over 50 indicate growth), making this the best six month stretch in years. Inquiries, a harbinger of future billings, slipped but remain high enough to suggest moderate growth could become faster growth.
For the most part, building projects are fantastic examples of confidence as they consume lots of time and money. Moreover, although you don't hear it anymore, I suspect the kibosh has been put on the notion of a "second leg" down led by commercial real estate. Higher billings are creating higher demand for architects, and while this does not mean a lot of jobs in the grand scheme of things, the structures they design ultimately house millions of workers.
According to Wanted Analytics, in the past 90-days jobs, opening for architects climbed 20% from a year ago to 16,000.
According to the firm, the 10 most commonly required skills in architecture (and any job- see red highlights) jobs include:
1. Autodesk CAD
2. Microsoft Office
3. Adobe Photoshop
4. Oral and written communication skills
5. Bentley Micro-station
6. Detail oriented
7. Self-starting & self-motivated
8. Project management
9. Global positioning systems (NYSE:GPS)
10. Organizational skills
Just about every source I researched from lenders, to developers and other industry experts all agreed commercial real estate could be on the cusp of a major rebound. Perhaps it's no surprise the biggest obstacle isn't access to lending but too many regulations. The AIA billings index for March pointed to serious government speed bumps via more lines in building codes (and you thought it as just taxes) leading to this replay when asked if rules are more or less stringent?
> 66% More
> 1.5% Less
Billing demand is occurring in all sectors with multifamily apartments and condos driving residential.
If renters can be convinced there could be a massive push for single family homes. It should require a lot of arm-twisting since it's more expensive to rent in the top 100 metropolitan areas than to own. Perhaps that needle's moving as the most recent measure of mortgage applications showed purchase applications +4% to their highest level since May 2010 and conventional purchase apps at highest level since October 2009.
Maybe the stock market is up to its old tricks- predicting the future. Things are turning but at a glacial pace that's anything but extraordinary. Yet, this is how turns generally happen. At some point, there's a string of news events that say the bottom has been made, and the worst is over, but that never happens at the exact bottom. Inflection points are dull and unassuming.
Of course money printing helps, but not in the way most people think and not to the degree the naysayers keep shouting to the world about. By the way, that shouting is going to get a whole lot louder as the shorts, also known as masters of the universe, get their heads handed to them- again! Giant moves in the following names will have those smug dream-crushers screaming like scalded dogs. Of course these deep-pocketed shorts always find more money and always reload.
Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR) is especially amazing as it's been one of the stocks beaten up on television for a year when it became the favorite short of guys like David Einhorn. The day he said it was a short last year, I said it was a buy. Of course his microphone is bigger than mine, although his skills are nowhere close. Be that as it may, it's really amazing how badly these guys can be off- and with the lamest of rationale. The problem is they make you play these stocks close to the vest not knowing when the next attack (false rumor ort overhyped news) will derail the share price.