Bad Rumblings in the Economy

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Bad economic news #1:

Real estate prices slid again in December, pushing a leading price index within a whisper of its lowest level since the housing crash began, data released Tuesday showed….“Despite improvements in the overall economy, housing continues to drift lower and weaker,” David M. Blitzer, chair of S.&P.’s Index Committee, said in a statement.

Bad economic news #2:

World oil prices are rising sharply as violence spreads through Libya, the first major petroleum exporter to be threatened by unrest sweeping North Africa and the Mideast. As fears mounted that soaring energy costs could derail the global economic recovery, the benchmark price of crude in London on Monday surged $5.48, or more than 5%, to $108.20 a barrel, its highest level since September 2008.

Falling house prices are hardly a surprise, so by itself this isn’t that big a deal. Rising oil prices weren’t either, back when they’d only gone up to $80 or so. But triple digits? And possibly more to come depending on what happens in Libya and elsewhere? Combine that with stubbornly high unemployment in the U.S., growing inflation in China, financial woes in Europe, and obvious fragility in the overall pace of our recovery from the Great Recession, and we might be wishing we’d opted for a more robust stimulus package pretty soon.

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