The Wall Street Journal reports that existing home sales were down in November. “Without a doubt, there are too many buyers in relation to the sellers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That is probably the main driver as to why the sales declined.”

I’m not sure this makes any sense—high demand would normally prompt more people to sell, wouldn’t it?—but put that aside. What you really need is some context. Here it is:

Yes, existing home sales were down slightly in November, but the general trend is nothing but upward in recent months: up 23 percent since the beginning of the year and up 14 percent since July. Does this mean that suddenly, on November 1, there were too many buyers? Nah. It just means there’s noise in the data series.

Plus, it turns out that home prices were down slightly in November, which suggests lower demand, not higher. But I’d venture to guess that’s just noise too.

For some reason, both reporters and their sources feel like they have to provide an explanation for everything that happens in the economy on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. This has been going on forever (“The stock market fell on news of an Elvis sighting in Paraguay”), and it’s ridiculous. If there’s a trend to report, fine. But a single blip is really unlikely to have much of a reason behind it. Everyone needs to stop pretending otherwise.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate