The real bears in this market believe housing will lead the economy into recession. Thus far, these bears are wrong. The housing market peaked in June 2005, and two years into the downturn, economic growth is still positive. Unemployment remains very low, at only 4.5 percent, and consumers have started ramping up their credit card debt again. The rate of increase in credit card debt slowed substantially from 2001 through 2006, as many consumers used mortgage refinancing dollars to fund their spending needs. Today, credit card spending is glowing at an 8 percent annual rate while retail sales are growing 5 percent. With personal income up 6 percent, the retail spending doesn't seem completely out of line with what you would consider to be a healthy level of spending. Our grading system of...
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