Reuters: Housing sales plunge …
posted at 12:45 pm on March 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Reuters takes the opportunity today to break out its favorite adverb in reporting what should be depressingly predictable economic news. This time, the news service puts “unexpectedly” in its headline to describe a sharp decline in the resale market, thanks to their reliance on the same forecasters that have gotten most of their predictions wrong (via DogSoldier):
Pending home sales unexpectedly plunge
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contracts for pending sales of previously owned homes unexpectedly fell in January, a survey showed, brought down in part by harsh weather in the U.S. Northeast.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in January, fell 7.6 percent to 90.4 from an upwardly revised 97.8 in December.
Analysts expected the market to gain 1% instead of drop. They blamed “harsh weather” for their incorrect forecasting, but January ended five weeks ago. Weathermen are notorious for incorrect predictions, but they have an excuse — they have to predict the weather before it arrives. If the “harsh weather” was really that much of a factor, why did Reuters’ Commission of Constantly Surprised Experts not consider it when making their predictions?
Reuters isn’t the only outlet playing the cold card. The Washington Post also blames recent economic bad news on the weather:
Just when you thought the mess from the February snowstorms was over, it has started to obscure a clear understanding of how the economy is doing.
There has been a string of disappointing data in the last two weeks, including rising numbers of unemployment claims and hints of a new dip in the housing market. A report on the jobs market in February, due Friday, would normally help provide clarity on whether the economic recovery remains on track — but not this month, as forecasters expect a large but uncertain loss of jobs because of the February snowstorms. …
The details of the report suggest that even apart from the snow, the expansion has included less-than-gangbuster growth. Nine of the 12 Fed districts reported that conditions were improving, “but in most cases the increases were modest,” and conditions were described as “mixed” by three of the Fed’s regional banks.
Indeed, the weakest results were reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which encompasses an area stretching from South Carolina to Maryland, where “economic activity slackened or remained soft in most sectors, due importantly to especially severe February weather in that region.”
The disappointing economic figures in recent weeks have included surprising increases in the number of new jobless claims and weak numbers on both new- and existing-home sales in January.
Heavy snow will interfere with construction projects, and the mid-Atlantic storms also took its toll on retail business … for a week. It’s not out of the question to see some minor impact on economic data from that region caused by the smothering snowstorm. However, the mid-Atlantic storm didn’t hit the entire country.
The truth is that we’re only slightly recovering from the economic collapse, and that the government policies put in place by Obama are holding back an actual recovery. In every other post-WWII recession, we would have seen both economic and job growth long before now. The pricing signals from massive government spending and massive statist programs have scared capital out of the market, and without that, the engine of job creation cannot roar back to life. Once one understands that, none of these results are “unexpected” at all.