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Housing dilemma: Santa is stuck in the chimney

Commentary: Fed cash can't enter the economy until it's used to make loans

In the absence of significant economic data or market movement, and in the presence of more economic and policy confusion than ever in my lifetime among civilians and professionals alike -- here an early jump on prospects for the new year. All optimistic outlooks have housing as the primary ingredient, which is true as far as obvious thinking goes. We have all-time low rates and affordability, and the pig of distressed resales is departing the python in tidy bacon slices, not a mass, and slowly. However, in simple math, to get to a higher level of sales and prices will require growth in aggregate mortgage balances. Instead they are shrinking, the Fannie-Freddie conservator standing on that hose. And now the FHA faces an existential battle, to be punished for lending when no one else would, and suffering losses now. When we see the mortgage supply rising, then housing will be able to lead. Until then, we have a problem traditional at this season: Santa is stuck in the chimney. The...