Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's Hot and Cold

A column by Irwin M. Stelze of the Weekly Standard appears on the CBS News website today. Headlined "Home Buyers Beware?" it puzzles at the same questions asked here at The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble on Aug. 20, 2005, when we pointed out two conflicting stories on the same day on the MarketWatch website — one that said this housing market will do 'far more damage' than economists think, and another that pointed out that the national housing market was 'steamy as ever.' Hmm, maybe Stelze's a reader... Here's an excerpt:
Very few markets are as complicated as the housing market, which may be why it so confuses market watchers. One week the New York Times reports "Healthy Housing Market Lifted the Economy in July," the next week the same writer discovers, "July Slowing of Home Sales Stirs Talk of Market Peak

This confusion is no trivial matter, since the housing industry has replaced the auto industry as the driving force in the U.S. economy. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled for me by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a colleague at the Hudson Institute, show that the housing and related industries now account for 4.8 million jobs, some 60 percent more than the once-mighty auto industry. Whereas the auto industry has desperately shed 60,000 jobs in the past 4 years so as to reduce its future pension and health care costs, points out Furchtgott-Roth, the housing industry has created almost 600,000 jobs in the construction and financial services.
Find the entire column at this link.

— The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble