Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Round up of the Bad and the Worse in Economic News

Where to begin? How about with Portland housing:

The Case Shiller numbers for August:

So, we are still not Las Vegas and still a little better than the national average, but the number for August was 171.93 which is a considerable drop from the 174.21 the month before. To put it in perspective, on average, Portland homes have shed all of the value gains they amassed since March 2006. So, as always, we are not immune, but are in better shape now because we were late to the party. And again, the usual caveat of remembering that averages conceal lots of neighborhood-level variation. Overall, though, the US is not doing well by this particular metric.

Is there hope that we shall soon see appreciation again. Well, the mortgage market, which was one of the few bright spots in the credit freeze after the Fannie and Freddie rescue, is still pretty good, but no longer below 6% for a 30 year fixed. So that's not as good as it was.

What of other credit markets? Well, after some improvement following the world's government and central bank interventions, the progress has stalled. Here is the TED Spread:

It dropped a lot but is now hovering just below 3 percent which is very high historically.

Other bad news? Well the consumer confidence is the worst on record. GM and Chrysler want billions so they can tie their two sinking ships together to stay afloat (come again?). Iceland is sinking.

So now we wait for the Fed to announce new rate cuts, but they are getting close to the zero bound - the point at which spooked would-be investors actually pay for the safety of Treasuries (think Japan).

Isn't there any good news? Well the Trail Blazers begin their season tonight and their future looks very bright.

Go Blazers.

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