"Manufacturing is the worst it has been in decades."
"Joblessness rose to its highest level in 37 years."
"Consumer confidence fell to it the lowest level since measurements began 16 years ago."
The "most down over the longest period" drive the most widely-read headlines in the business and general press today. The recession is biting hard and getting worse, and worse.
Today, the National Association of Realtors announced that the Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, fell 4.0 percent to 82.3 from a downwardly revised reading of 85.7 in October. It is 5.3 percent below November 2007 when it was 86.9. The current index is the lowest since the survey began in 2001.
There are a lot of numbers put out by economists. The analysts and research firms that issue them each try to make a claim that their statistics are meaningful.
There are only two numbers worth following now that the signs of the failing economy pop up every day. Look no further than employment and housing. Confidence, retail sales, factory orders, and earnings are all by-products of who has a job and whether the value of that person’s home is still dropping. An underwater mortgage is a mortgage more likely to default than one with equity. An underwater mortgage is one for a house which will not be sold to pay-off debt or buy a new house.
A man without a job takes resources out of the economy and puts none back in.
It’s housing and jobs. Nothing else.
Douglas A. McIntyre