Markets & Economy

7 wagers on the economic future

At what point will higher mortgage rates slow housing?

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

Here at the turn of the year, days getting shorter and it's time to look ahead -- which I am reluctant to do, unable to predict the future. But we can bracket probabilities and apply a little history. Seven wagers on the future follow below. New economic data this week were limited, but positive. Sales of existing homes in May rose 9.2 percent year over year, and prices with them, up 7.9 percent. Personal income gained 0.5 percent, and spending surged .9 percent (possibly suspect); and the core personal consumption expenditure deflator (PCE, the Fed’s favorite measure of inflation) stayed at 1.2 percent year over year. Only new orders for durable goods were tepid, up 0.5 percent for May but down 2.2 percent year over year, clearly suppressed by the hot dollar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has an odd protocol for releasing the all-important employment statistics each month: The program calls for release on the first Friday each month, but it is often delayed if the first...