Items of interest:
U.S. Existing Home Sales Fell to 4.89 Million Rate in January -- Sales of existing homes in the U.S. fell last month to the lowest in at least nine years, signaling the housing slump is deepening and will weigh on growth in 2008.
Resales declined 0.4 percent, less than forecast, to an annual rate of 4.89 million from a revised 4.91 million in December that was higher than previously reported, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The group began record-keeping for this measure in 1999.
Mounting foreclosures are adding to a glut of unsold homes that is driving down property values. Would-be homebuyers may be waiting for even lower prices, keeping the housing market depressed for a third year and dragging the economy close to a recession.
Housing is ``a long-term negative that's going to continue,'' Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York, said before the report. ``The trends are still weak. Prices haven't come down enough.''
Economists had forecast home resales would fall 1.8 percent to an annual rate of 4.8 million, according to the median of 63 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 4.65 million to 5 million.
The number of homes for sale at the end of January rose 5.5 percent to 4.2 million. At the reported sales pace, that represents 10.3 months' supply, compared with 9.7 months in December [...]
Will the bond-insurer bailout work?
Commentary: Insurers are mired in their ills, but this might not be the cure -- from my perch, a respite rather than a resolution, a plan that will buy time rather than alleviate the underlying cause of stress.
It is an encapsulation of the mindset that has dominated policy since the back of the tech bubble. Give the drunk another drink with hopes he doesn't sober up. It's a conversation for another time and a different column, but the similarities stand out. In the classic tradition of Hollywood, the script has been rewritten with the characters simply recast.
This House was a Steal --How fraud led to this property changing hands 3 times as son of owner sat dead inside
"The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police.
Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit. Next to him lay a dead dog. Neighbors told police the corpse was almost certainly Randy Johnson, a middle-age man who lived alone in the North Kenwood house.
The cause of Johnson's death has not yet been determined, but it is just one of the mysteries about 4578 S. Oakenwald Ave. Somehow, Johnson's house was transferred three times to new owners without anyone noticing he was inside. It's a story involving forged deeds, a corrupt title company and a South Side family that has been under investigation for mortgage fraud."
- Monoline Death Watch: A "Bad Insurer/Worse Insurer" Split? - Naked Capitalism
- Accounting for Subprime -- Scoring the Scorekeepers - Peterson/Re:Balance
- Dealing with Financial Crisis: Stage 3 Nationalisation - Brad Delong
- How to Prevent US Foreclosures - Lawrence Summers, FT
- The Death of the Long Boom? - James Pethokoukis, U.S. News
- Giving the Fed a Junk Grade - Editorial, New York Sun
- A Cure for Stagflation - Editorial, Investor's Business Daily
- Rising Inflation Creates Unease in Middle East - R. Worth, New York Times
- U.S. Wrestles With Question of Bank Bailouts - Edmund Andrews, IHT
- How Banks Work - Nathan Lewis, New World Economics
- U.S. Economy Rests on Consumer Confidence - Liam Halligan, Telegraph