Ben Bernanke’s been practically dislocating his arm patting himself on the back for engineering a soft landing for the economy (defined as “any set of economic circumstances that don’t cost me my job”), when today the new housing start information comes out and shows a massive decline. Housing starts were off almost a third from their highs of two years ago, down over 20% from December of last year, and 15% over last January. Ouch.
Most likely, builders are waiting for their massive inventory to clear before starting a bunch more new houses, and this information, like all such economic data, means a whole lot more if you live in Ohio than it does if you live in Utah. The sky is not falling. But it might behoove Atlas to be a little less hawkish on rates and start discussing the possibility that the economy is not as red-hot as previously supposed.
Meanwhile, the information was good for bonds and things are improving fractionally for all those of you buying and refinancing. There’s no cloud that has no silver lining.