I touched briefly on the subject of housing in my Friday letter, "Thoughts from the Frontline" (you can view it here). Data from across the country points to a number of trends including declines in both new construction and existing home sales. Market "experts" are calling for both sets of outcomes with some saying that we have been through the brunt of the contraction and with others saying that further declines await us yet.
This week's letter is from Paul Kasriel of The Northern Trust Company. Paul is the Senior Vice President and Director of Economic Research, responsible for producing the Corporation's economic and interest rate forecasts. He advises the Bank's Assets-Liabilities Committee as well as the Corporation's Investment Policy Committee.
In his commentary, "The Econtrarian," Paul addresses the housing market by taking a deep and thorough look at the data while asking the question of whether or not we are near a bottom. A further decrease in home prices would have a material effect on consumer spending and the decision making of the Fed.
Paul has a knack for taking a balanced look at the facts instead of paying attention to all of the noise generated by many media outlets. Let's take a look at this week's "Outside the Box."
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
Near a Bottom in Housing?
On Thursday November 2nd, Reuters News reported that Fed Governor Bies was of the opinion that the bulk of the housing recession was behind us. If Governor Bies is correct, this would go down in post-war history as one of the shallowest housing corrections on record.
Chart 1 shows a history of housing starts from January 1959 through September 2006. I have identified,…