Summary: The author of the article interviewed Doug Duncan, the chief economist for Fannie Mae; David Merriman, an economics professor and associate director of the Institute of Government Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Tracy Turner, economics professor at Kansas State University.
Here is the gist of their responses:
- Economists have long held that housing is the industry that typically leads the nation out of recession
- Industry forecasts still predict housing will continue, for the foreseeable future, to be a drag on the economy
- In the U.S., there are only 60,000 completed new homes available for sale -- the lowest number since World War II
- The housing market is particularly hard on laid off (or in the case of Hawaii, payroll reduced) government employees who work in public schools, fire departments and police
- Because housing values are low, people and businesses are conservative about spending and reluctant to invest or expand
- This is the largest housing bust since the Great Depression
- For every $1 decline in house value, a homeowner spends 6 cents less in the community, which takes a toll on the sales tax and on general economic activity
- Mr. Merriman says, "a recovery in housing is key to an economic recovery," but Ms. Turner concludes, "I wouldn't rely on housing to lead us out of this recession."