Housing Spurns the Fed's Advances

What kind of strange recovery is this?

A survey showed that only 1 in 10 workers say his income is going up. This is the lowest reading since 1946.

Meanwhile, the news two days ago was that homebuilding took a dive in October. Work began on 11% fewer houses than the month before. On multi-family dwellings, the figures were worse – down 35%.

Why would homebuilding go down when the economy is supposedly gathering strength? Well, builders were wondering what would happen when they finished the houses. The new house tax credit was due to expire; they weren’t sure the politicians would be witless enough to renew it.

They need not have worried. Give the politicos a chance to do something stupid and they will come through every time. Since the end of October, Congress passed and President Obama signed an extension of the housing credit. Until next April, at least, first time buyers will get an $8,000 credit.

You’d think that would have revived animal spirits a bit in the residential construction industry. But today’s news tells us that mortgage applications are falling – even with lower interest rates.

How come interest rates are falling? Well, here again, we see the heavy hand of the feds. The “quantitative easing” has come to a halt…that is, the Fed is no longer buying US Treasury debt (it doesn’t need to). But its buying of mortgage backed securities continues. That program will last until March of next year.

Still…housing is not cooperating.

This news hasn’t had much impact on Wall Street. All that can be said is that investors have seemed to hesitate for the last couple of days.

Stocks fell softly yesterday, with the Dow down only 11 points. Oil stayed at $79. Gold rose to $1,141. And the euro remained at $1.49.

Investors must still believe in what The Washington Post calls a “lukewarm recovery.” It is like finding a body on the street. You feel for a pulse and discover that it has not quite reached room temperature. It is tepid… Not quite alive. Not quite dead.

Too close to the quick to bury…too close to the grave to boogaloo.

The Daily Reckoning