Waiting for the next wave

As lousy as the various housing stats have been this week, we're still not getting the full picture.  As business journalism watchdog Dean Baker points out, "It would have been useful to remind readers that the August sales numbers refer to closings. The contracts on these houses were mostly signed in June and July, before the big flare-ups in the mortgage market."

A clearer picture will start to emerge tomorrow with the numbers on new home sales.  (Update: The numbers are out today — down more than 8%, which of course exceeded the "expert" predictions; prices down too.)  But the head of Fannie Mae isn't waiting for the numbers to declare the bottom is nowhere in sight:

Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mudd, whose government-chartered company is the largest provider of money for U.S. home loans, said the housing slump will last for years.

The housing market won't hit a bottom “until the end of '08 and then we have some period of time to work our way back up again,'' Mudd said today in an interview.

U.S. home prices will fall 2 percent to 4 percent this year, and “more next year,'' he said.

Does anyone outside the National Association of Realtors not think the second wave of the housing tsunami is in full swing?