Barry Ritholtz tackles a phenomenon that is interesting to examine, but difficult to utilize in practice. How a topic or theme can go seemingly unnoticed until it blows up into a full-scale public phenomenon.
One of the more astonishing things about the market is how something that should matter doesn't for the longest time . . . and then it suddenly does.
I find it incredible that suddenly, the denial we have been living with for so long gets removed. The robust inflation has been denied, ignored for so long. Despite all the evidence, the price increases on ordinary goods, medical services, housing, insurance, all the while commodity prices run amuck has been overlooked, as if its irrelevant.
Then suddenly, it matters.
Barry goes on to document further the growing number of headlines that point to a meaningful slowdown in the housing market. Indeed one need only check out a recent post from the Housing Bubble Blog to see that weakness in housing is spreading.
Justin Lahart in the Wall Street Journal notes that these housing numbers will have a great deal to tell us how the homebuilders will deal with the downturn.
The hope is that home builders will be on better behavior this time. Large public builders now drive the market, and they say they're careful about managing inventories. Moreover, a dearth of available land and regulatory constraints may have damped speculative building during the boom.
Today's numbers will give a clue about whether that's true. But, as MFR economist Josh Shapiro says, you won't really know "until demand evaporates and you see who's naked and who's not."
The scary (or interesting) fact is that housing has an important role to play in any number of sectors including: mortgage banking, construction materials, appliances, labor, etc. The housing boom is seemingly in our rear view mirror – the question is what lies ahead?
Bonus points for those who got the reference in the post title.