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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Housing Abyss

Flip flop.

GM, UAW Resumption of Talks May Signal Short Strike (Update3): “The United Auto Workers' return to bargaining with General Motors Corp. within hours of calling the first national strike against the automaker in 37 years may signal the union's desire for a quick end to the walkout.

“It shows that the union leadership does in fact want to reach an agreement,” said Jules Crystal, a labor lawyer at Bryan Cave LLP in Chicago, who has negotiated more than 260 contracts with the UAW and other unions for auto-parts suppliers. “In many cases, the union would walk out in a huff and say, "Call us when you're ready to talk.””

Looks like all this is part of the ploy. Perhaps the deal will be so hard to swallow for UAW members that the union has to put on this great act of fighting tooth and nail.

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index Falls 3.9% in July (Update2): “Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell the most on record in July, indicating the threat to consumer spending was rising even before credit markets seized up in August, a private survey showed today.

Values dropped 3.9 percent in the 12 months through July, steeper than the 3.4 percent decrease in June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index. The index declined in January for the first time since the group started the measure in 2001, and has receded every month since then.”

Prices are ACCELERATING to the downside with no bottom even in sight. Next we should start seriously seeing the consequences of these falling house prices in other economic indicators.

“A glut of homes on the market adds to pressure for sellers to lower prices. The inventory of single-family existing homes on the market represented a 9.2-months' supply in July, the most since October 1991, the Realtors group said on Aug. 27.”

Inventory levels are now at levels only seen in the DEPTHS of RECESSIONS. Prices have no choice but to COLLAPSE to market clearing levels. Where that may be is anybody’s guess…

U.S. Retailers' Sales Fell 1% Last Week, ICSC Says (Update1): “U.S. retail sales fell 1 percent last week from the previous seven days, the second consecutive decline, and September sales may rise less than previously estimated, according to a report by an industry group.”

Expect these numbers to get far worse. With a declining dollar gasoline prices are about to become a major problem…

“Higher gasoline prices and the worst U.S. housing slump in 16 years have slowed consumer spending. Lowe's Cos., the second- largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, said yesterday that earnings this year may miss its previous forecast. Target Corp., the second-biggest U.S. discount chain, lowered September sales projections yesterday after customer visits declined.”

U.S. August Existing Home Sales Fall to Five-Year Low (Update1): “Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in August to a five-year low, extending a slump that threatens to stall economic growth.

Purchases declined 4.3 percent, less than forecast, to an annual rate of 5.5 million, the National Association of Realtors said in Washington. Sales dropped 13 percent compared with a year earlier and median home prices rose 0.2 percent to $224,500.

Sales are likely to keep falling after borrowing costs rose and mortgages became more difficult to get last month. The number of properties on the market rose to a record in August. Lower home values and slower job growth may hurt consumer confidence and spending, economists said.”

Lennar Reports Biggest Loss in Its 53-Year History (Update3): “Lennar Corp., the largest U.S. homebuilder, reported the biggest quarterly loss in its 53-year history after $848 million of costs to write down the value of real estate. The shares fell as much as 6.5 percent.

The third-quarter net loss was $513.9 million, or $3.25 a share, exceeding the most pessimistic estimates from analysts and suggesting the worst housing market in 16 years shows no signs of stabilizing. Revenue at Miami-based Lennar fell 44 percent to $2.34 billion, the lowest in more than three years.”

Into the abyss housing will go… from boom to bust. Like it always has and always will. Did you really think this time was different? Its called an economic CYCLE for a reason.