Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Housing recovery lacks coal for the firebox

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

Another thin week for economic data, but plenty going on and patterns are forming. The dominant one is positive expectation for the economy: some is legitimate, although hope-based; some is illegitimate, salesmen mostly on Wall Street; and some is a form of habit, that sooner or later we'll enter an old-fashioned cyclical recovery. President Obama's inaugural falls into the third group, affirming his approach since first elected: the economy requires some attention, but it is a distraction from more important things. In a speech five times as long as this column, the inaugural included the word "economy" once, "jobs" twice, and "prosperity" once. The surprise datum on Tuesday: sales of existing homes slid 1 percent in December. Financial markets were briefly jolted by the absence of ramp-up. However, the many who are certain that housing will drive a strong and typical recovery went into sputtering and unseemly defense of their positions. Housing in genera...