2011's Warning Signs: Europe and the Housing Market

Here's a nice printable resource for casual observers of the US economy: 10 Economic Questions for 2011, from the housing market, to state government hiring, to the European debt crisis.

My read is that everything seems to be getting better, slowly, except in two categories: anything having to do with Europe's finances and almost everything having to do with our housing market. So these are important questions:

1) House Prices: How much further will house prices fall on the national repeat sales indexes (Case-Shiller, CoreLogic)? Will house prices bottom in 2011?

2) Residential Investment: It appears residential investment (RI) bottomed in 2010, and will probably make a positive contribution to GDP growth in 2011 for the first time since 2005. RI is mostly investment in new single family structures, multifamily structures, home improvement and commissions on existing home sales. Historically RI has been the best leading indicator for the economy, but the growth in RI will probably be modest because of the large overhang of excess housing units. How much will RI grow in 2011?

3) Distressed house sales: Foreclosure activity is very high, although activity has slowed recently - probably because of "foreclosure gate" issues. The number of REOs (Real Estate Owned by lenders) is increasing again, although still below the levels of late 2008. How much will foreclosure activity pick up in 2011? Will the number of REOs peak in 2011 and start to decline?

Read the full story at Calculated Risk.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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