Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Difficult economic equations: Do the math

Commentary: Don't be fooled by home stats 'euphoria'

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Interest rates are a hair lower at week's end, more in relief that another massive Treasury borrowing -- $109 billion in term debt alone -- came off without injuries. However, long-term Treasury rates have been elevated since May, pushing mortgages to 5.5 percent, past the edge of refinance demand, and near the limit of buyer demand. The economy is living on government spending, in today's report up 5.6 percent in the second quarter, but consumer spending falling faster than GDP, -1.2 percent vs. -1 percent. So long as the Treasury can raise cash without further damage to rates, the economy will stumble forward, but upward pressure has already canceled much of the credit-easing benefit of the Fed's zero percent cost of money. The stock market rose after every new economic report, good or bad. Markets are very thin this time of year, with data distorted by hazy seasonal adjustments. Everybody's favorite summer-school subject: math. Insert your pocket protectors and deconstr...