Markets & Economy

Making progress, in our uniquely wacky way

Commentary: Brace yourself for next week's Fed meeting and almighty payroll numbers

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Fun week! New data were soft, but not enough by miles to break Fed-fear, so interest rates stayed put. The entertainment lay in the politics of U.S. economic and financial governance, making progress in our uniquely wacky way. June sales of existing homes fell 1.2 percent, dismissed as a quirk by those who believe housing will accelerate the economy. They think low inventory is key, but no matter how low, to get economic oomph we have to sell more. Sales of new homes jumped 8.3 percent but were overstated by May's negative revision. It is too soon for higher rates to have done harm; we are still working off pent-up demand undeterred by price or rate. June orders for durable goods were flat, no gain at all ex-transportation, and the Chicago Fed's national index recorded another month in mild positive ground. The University of Michigan consumer confidence survey put in another post-'08 high, most likely boosted by home prices and liquidity -- maybe not a locomotive, but a gen...