A Birdie in One

Originally posted on Harderblog:

That might be in reference to an eagle perched high above the Douglas Fir tree that overlooks the 15th hole at this year’s U.S. Open Golf Championship. Dakeryn lumber traders planning to attend the Open won’t be the only ones surprised by the minimalist role that any woods connection plays in this year’s Open. The Pacific Northwest may be known for lush forested areas, in which the lumber industry thrives, but as this story in The Seattle Times points out, except for one lone fir tree, there ain’t any on the Chambers Bay golf course in Puget Sound.

Almost a TUBA FORE?!

“Wienecke arrived at work at Chambers Bay in pre-dawn darkness, as usual, that day in late April 2008. When he got around to the tree, the first thing he saw was the mess – the beer bottles and cigarette butts. Then he noticed the wood chips, and…

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Growing Lumber

Originally posted on Harderblog:

We’re not sure if Gavin Munro will figure out how to coax trees to grow limbs shaped like 2×10 floor joists. Some believe it would render sawmills obsolete. For now this botanical craftsman is enjoying success in growing furniture (HT: Mark Kennedy).

Aptly described in this article at Gizmag as “a man with a great deal of patience,” Munro has reportedly spent the last ten years training trees to become chairs, tables, and sculpture. Check out the many beautiful images which includes his Furniture Field (Tuscan vineyard?) posted at the company’s website (“each piece is an expression of patience and collaboration with nature”). A large furniture harvest is projected for 2016-2017. Would this be nature’s contribution to rudimentary 3-D printing?

Fg_chairs_just_cropped_at_hopton Photo Credit: fullgrown.co.uk

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Forestry Friday … Millions of Dead Trees

Originally posted on THE FORESTER ARTIST:

This storyappeared in the May 2015, California Forest Pest Council newsletter. The effects of the drought are manifesting in Southern California forests through massive tree die-off.

Early Aerial Surveys Find Millions of Dead Trees

TehachapiBugKill 2015 Pine Mortality Near Tehachapi. By J. Moore, USFS. The US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection conducted special early season aerial surveys of Southern California and the Southern Sierras in April to get a preliminary assessment of forest conditions in some of the most severely drought-impacted areas of the state. The Southern California survey covered more than 4.2 million acres and identified approximately 2 million dead trees over 164,000 acres. It included most of the Cleveland, San Bernardino, Angeles, and Los Padres National Forests as well as Pinnacles National Monument and nearby private lands. Noteworthy finds included a substantial increase in pine mortality on the Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest as well as…

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Shy Lumber Stock Investors

Originally posted on Harderblog:

In describing today’s over-supply of softwood lumber, attendees at the NAWLA Regional Meeting in Vancouver will recall Peter Woodbridge’s super-saturated chemistry analogy. Expanding on the theme this week at Business Vancouver, Woodbridge now likens investors in lumber stocks to “the parents of a super-star high school student who inexplicably is at risk of not graduating.” It’s an edgy article aimed at investors that’s worth reading here. Highlighted points include:

  • “In explaining why lumber stock prices have fallen so quickly recently, it’s clear that Canadian lumber supply is the villain in the story. Unlike the pulp industry, which practises supply management, B.C. lumber producers prefer to keep their mills operating at high rates – even when demand softens, as it has at the moment.”
  • “They have been aided and abetted by the declining value of the Canadian dollar in U.S. funds. Softwood lumber is sold in U.S. dollars. So…

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Forgotten Characters from Forest History: Tim Burr

Originally posted on Peeling Back the Bark:

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 16, in which we examine Tim Burr.

Tim BurrIn July 1949 the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company debuted the first issue of its new company-wide magazine. Weyerhaeuser Magazine was targeted to company employees and featured company news across the various branches, as well as features on Weyerhaeuser employees both on the job and away from work. The inaugural issue of the magazine also introduced to the world a brilliantly-named character: Mr. Tim Burr.

Tim’s purpose was to promote workplace safety, similar to previously profiled characters like Herman I. Cautious and Paula Bunyan. But unlike Herman and Paula, who were committed examples of proper workplace behavior…

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Forgotten Characters from Forest History: Joe Beaver

Originally posted on Peeling Back the Bark:

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 15, in which we examine Joe Beaver.

Joe BeaverBefore there was a Smokey Bear or a Woodsy Owl, the U.S. Forest Service had another animal preaching the messages of forest conservation and fire prevention: Joe Beaver. Joe (an actual beaver, not the 8-time world champion cowboy) was the creation of legendary cartoonist Ed Nofziger, who worked for the Forest Service during World War II before moving on to the large animation studios of his day. The story of Joe Beaver’s creation is intertwined with Nofziger’s divergent career path into the world of forestry.

Ed Nofziger was born in 1913 and raised in…

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JCHS: Pent-Up Demand for Additional Household Formation is Fraught with Uncertainties

by George Masnick

Fellow

In early 2011, economists at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that the slowdown in household formation that started in 2007 with the advent of the Great Recession had produced a 2.1 million household formation shortfall by 2010. The authors concluded that the demand for new housing should accelerate dramatically once the economic recovery releases this “pent-up” demand. Another pent-up demand calculation, by Jed Kolko at Trulia, estimated 2.6 million “missing households” in 2010. After three additional years in which the economy has improved on many fronts – albeit at a slow pace – the 2013 Trulia deficit in the household count was still estimated at 2.4 million. But how solid are these estimates and how likely is it that household formation rates will return to pre-recession levels?

 

One difficulty in making these calculations is that actual household growth estimates since 2007 vary considerably from year to year and are inconsistent among data sets (Figure 1). There is good reason to believe that the most widely used data to track household growth, the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS, used in the NAHB calculation), has seriously underestimated the number of US households – and as a result household growth – since a revision in methodology in 2003.  The HVS’s average annual estimate of household growth since 2007 of 550-600,000 contrasts with the American Community Survey’s (ACS) estimate of 700-800,000 new households annually and the higher Current Population Survey (CPS) growth numbers of over 1 million new households annually since 2010. Without agreement on actual levels of household growth since 2007, it is quite impossible to gauge the shortfall in growth, and therefore the probable level of pent-up demand.

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Notes: 2013 ACS not available.  2010-2013 growth for the ACS a two-year average of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 data.

 

The method used to estimate the “normal” level of household growth also matters. The NAHB number was based on a simple difference between “actual” household growth estimates for the 2007-2010 period, and a straight line trending of HVS household growth prior to 2007. Over the very short run this approach may be appropriate, but would not be expected to hold up over a longer period.

 

Kolko’s calculations are more sophisticated. Using CPS data, he computes the change in age-specific headship rates (the share of persons in an age group that head an independent household) from the average 2000-07 pre-recession levels. This change, when multiplied by the official annual population estimates for each year, gives the deficit in number of household formations in each age group due to changes in the propensity to form households. This method corrects for the effects on household formation of simple changes in the size and age structure of the adult population, which the NAHB method does not take into account. But what Kolko’s calculation does not control for is the increasing share of minorities in the population. And since Hispanics and Asians have lower headship rates than non-Hispanic whites this oversight is not trivial (Figure 2). In fact, a certain amount of the decline in household formation is due to the changing race/Hispanic origin composition of the population and not to the recent economic downturn.

 

This issue is exacerbated by an undercounting of growth in Hispanics and Asians over the past decade, as revealed by the results of the 2010 Census. The underestimating of Hispanic and Asian shares of the population in the CPS during the 2000s also means that pre-2010 CPS headship values are biased upward by overcounting the white share, due to incorrect population weights in the CPS survey, making the 2000-2007 benchmark headship rates too high, and exaggerating the decline in age-specific headship pre-versus-post recession.

 

Even controlling for both age and race/Hispanic origin in the different surveys, we know that household formations have slowed relative to pre-recession levels, we just do not know by how much given concerns just discussed. We also know that the slowdown is likely a consequence of the recession. But, we are uncertain about whether the reduced level of household formation has been primarily driven by economic factors, or whether it is the result of more fundamental changes in attitudes and behavior regarding independent living by today’s young adults that might be partly recession-driven, but may also have deeper roots.

 

Lower rates of labor force participation, lower incomes of those in the labor force, rising rents, greater student loan debt and tight mortgage lending conditions are economic factors that could partly explain low levels of independent household formation. But we do not know whether these effects are likely to be short-term or long-term as an improving economy and governmental initiatives could reverse many of these factors quite quickly.

 

But trends in college and graduate school enrollment, the structure of the labor force, the timing of marriage and childbearing, and attitudes about co-residence might lead millennials to form independent households according to a different timetable than the generations that preceded them, regardless of economic conditions. Going back to school for retraining is becoming increasingly necessary for technology oriented jobs in a rapidly changing economy. Employment in start-ups, freelance work, and spells of temporarily working long hours in different jobs and on various projects, followed by periods of downtime, are increasingly common. The timing and sequence of important life-course decisions such as co-habitation, marriage, and childbearing have become more fluid. Intergenerational interdependency at various life-course stages has also changed, with parents playing a larger role in financially supporting their children as young adults, in helping to raise grandchildren, and in opening their homes for spells of co-residence when their children ask. These factors may have inertia that will make them less responsive to economic changes.

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Source: Joint Center tabulations of CPS data.  Average of 2011, 2012 and 2013 values.

 

And even if market forces are the primary reasons for depressed rates of household formation, geographic variations in job and income growth and housing costs and availability mean that the magnitude and pace with which pent-up household formation is released should vary in different parts of the country. For all these reasons calculations about the extent of pent-up demand for housing and speculation about its causes, when demand will be released, and what kind of housing will be required to meet future demand are fraught with uncertainties. The latest Joint Center household projections hold household formation rates constant at average 2011-2013 levels, making no allowance for the future release of pent-up demand, and should therefore be considered conservative.

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