Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell may have a problem on his hands. Buoyed by three interest-rate cuts, not only did the U.S. housing market stand as a pillar of economic support in 2019, it largely offset the protracted slowdown in business investment. Now, though, cracks have begun to appear in housing.
Focusing solely on forward-looking indicators of residential real estate, the direct input to gross domestic product, building permits in the South and Northeast, which account for about 60% of permits, fell in December. As for what’s to come on the sales side, pending homes sales fell by 4.9%, the steepest decline in a decade.