Yesterday, April 15, 2004, was the unofficial last day of the national housing market boom. The full effects of this week's turning point won't be felt until the home-buying season comes to a close in August. And maybe April 15 wasn't the exact date on which the turn occurred. But put a black X on your calendar anyway because it will prove close enough. Economic factors reported this week strongly suggest the economy has begun to make a solid comeback. Employment has picked up. Retail sales and overall consumer spending remain strong. And a small, but significant surge in price inflation must have caught the Federal Reserve's attention. Those data add up to trouble for the housing boom because several years of economic weakness and nearly nonexistent inflation have kept interest rates low enough to pump an unprecendented amount of cheap financing into the housing sector. But renewed economic strength will trigger higher interest rates and that will take the froth out of the housing...
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