The Housing Bust: Sorry, It Ain't Over Yet

Peter Coy

People are getting very excited about the report today that starts on construction of private housing rose 5.9% in September.

Sorry: Despite the September uptick, the housing bust ain't over yet. The strongest evidence that the slump will continue is that while starts were up, permits fell 6.3% to the lowest level since October 2001. Here's a sampling of economists' analysis on the topic.

Global Insight: "On balance, this was not as good a report as the headline number implies."

Roger Kubarych, UniCredit: "All of the increase [in starts] was in the South, where Katrina-related reconstruction backlogs are still being worked off."

Ian Shepherdson, High Frequency Economics: "Analysts less bearish on housing than us will doubtless proclaim the starts numbers as evidence that the worst is over, but even a cursory glance at the awful permits numbers should disabuse all but the most incurable optimists of that notion."

Action Economics: "The sharp contrast between the strength in starts and weakness in permits usually flags some kind of temporary distortion. ... August activity may have been held back by inclement weather, possibly leaving catch-up in September."

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE