Business Breakfast: Is That a Housing Rebound I See?

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Here are your five business stories of the morning: Home prices are up. Bernanke is mum. The GOP is consistent. Dying is expensive. Basel is in agreement.

1. Housing Prices Set Four-Year Mark: The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 4.6 percent from May 2009, the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2006, the group said today in New York. [... BUT] "There's an awful lot of houses on the market right now and with sales declining we're likely to see price declines in the second half of the year," Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report. [Bloomberg]Bernanke feels that if he goes before Congress and rattles off his preferred taxing and spending policies (as opposed to giving more dispassionate comments about long-term fiscal policy), it would be usurping his role as an unelected official charged with making monetary policy. [WaPo]

3. The GOP's New 'Tax Hypocrisy'
: You might think that people terrified of deficits would be concerned about permanently extending tax cuts that will add at least $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. Nope. [Daily Beast]

4. The Most Expensive Year: The soaring cost of health care is the greatest threat to the country's long-term solvency, and the terminally ill account for a lot of it. Twenty-five per cent of all Medicare spending is for the five per cent of patients who are in their final year of life, and most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months which is of little apparent benefit. [New Yorker]

5. Basel Committee Reaches Agreement on New Bank Rules: A panel of world financial officials has reached "broad agreement" on new rules to govern the global banking system but has postponed some key elements for as long as seven years while the impact is studied, the Switzerland-based group said Monday. [WaPo]

2. Why Bernanke Isn't Advocating Fiscal Stimulus: