Why the job market feels so dismal. Edward Lazear, WSJ. A clear account of how jobs turn over in a healthy economy. The problem now is not layoffs but the slow pace of hiring.

US housing starts drop in April. Shannon Bond, FT. "Homebuilder confidence has stalled at extremely low levels." See also: Rent or buy. David Leonhardt, NYT. With prices depressed, is buying a house now a good investment? Maybe--depending on where you live, your appetite for risk and your stage of life. James Kwak has some further discussion, and links to an excellent, thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of buying or renting by Jordan Rappaport of the Kansas City Fed: The effectiveness of home ownership in building household wealth.

The federal role in dealing with state and local pension problems. Douglas Elliott, Brookings Institution. Some states may be delaying action in the hope that the feds will come to the rescue. They are likely to be disappointed.