Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Home Sales Bomb; Market Reaction: Numb

If there was any more proof needed that the US residential housing market was about to take another turn for the worse, May data on new homes sales may have not only provided that, but threaten to push the entire economy into another recession.

Dogged by relentlessly-high unemployment, tight financing issues and coming the first month after expiration of the government's new home buyer tax credit, May new home sales fell to a record low of 300,000 units (seasonally adjusted), the worst sales figure since data was recorded, back in 1963.

Not only was the number 32.7% below April's downwardly-revised figure of 446,000, but the decline was also 18.6% lower year-over-year. The news, which was released at 10:00 am EDT, was met with little more than a yawn on Wall Street, where stocks were marginally lower in anticipation of the Fed's rate policy decision later in the day (2:00 pm EDT).

Traders may be disappointed by whatever it is the Fed will do as they already have the fed funds rate at ZERO, so they have no loosening mechanism left in place to staunch another economic downturn except a couple of bad choices, those being, reinstitution of quantitative easing (printing money to buy more Treasury debt), or, expansion of the already-bloated balance sheet with the purchase of more mortgage debt, most of it toxic sludge which nobody wants to touch.

What the Fed does today will be important only in the minds of those who actually believe that they and the federal government can rescue the economy from the worst economic nightmare since the Great Depression, possibly the worst economic slowdown of all time. While most lame media pundits still put some degree of faith in the exigencies of Keynesian economics, more stable-minded Austrian thinkers feel that nothing can be done to stem the deflationary decline except writing off bad investments, involving a great deal of pain and suffering, much more than is currently being felt in the grandest global economies.

The FMOC rate decision will be released shortly after 2:00 pm ET. A full report, with closing numbers, will be reported in a subsequent post after the close of trading today.

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