Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Too soon to count on housing to drive growth

Commentary: Yes, real estate is better, but mortgage credit is still shrinking

Global markets have synchronized their trading on the fiscal cliff and little else. A positive public statement by anybody, then immediately stocks run up and bonds sell off. A negative slant to an eyebrow, a down-turned lip, no matter how minor the official… stocks tank, buy bonds, rates down. This preoccupation has some merit, but only half. If no deal, and over the cliff we go, Wile E. Coyote in an Acme parachute with no ripcord, the landing will be unpleasant. On the other hand, exuberance at a deal will be fleeting, replaced by awareness that the deal, any deal, will be the beginning of the largest round of tax increases and spending cuts in U.S. history. Just as Mr. Coyote thinks he's caught the Roadrunner, an Acme safe lands on him. Beep-beep. It is nigh impossible to separate posturing public comments on the fiscal cliff from serious ones. Each of the negotiating sides must try to sell its ideas to the general public, but also try to reassure is own constituents that it i...