Media Moves

Press declares that housing slump is over

December 30, 2006

Marek Fuchs of TheStreet.com points out that the business media have begun writing about the housing market as if it’s about to turn around when that may not be the case.

Marek FuchsFuchs wrote, “The Business Press Maven is always highly critical of the business media for allowing a pattern of three to qualify as a trend. But apparently now two can do the deed. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes blipped up 0.6% in November, following a 0.5% increase in October.

“How did those modest little facts play?

“In its lead, the Associated Press declared that ‘the worst of the downturn for the battered housing market may be over.’ Lower down, it hedges, mentioning those ever-present and always plural ‘analysts’ who say that ‘this year’s slide in housing is starting to bottom out.’ The Business Press Maven seconds that with his first-ever ironclad guarantee. After all, with today being the last business day of the year, the housing market doesn’t have too much longer to slide in 2006.

Reuters also ushers in a new era of stability, at least on paper (or, more accurately, in pixels), with what passes as reason: Wall Street was wrong, so it is right. ‘The National Association of Realtors said the pace of existing home sales rose 0.6 percent in November to a 6.28 million-unit annual rate, defying Wall Street forecasts for sales to ease slightly and providing the latest suggestion that housing activity was stabilizing after a steep drop.’ The AP even adds vestiges of housing-market insanity, disguised as a qualifier: ‘However, [analysts] cautioned not to expect a sharp rebound.’

“Even the 800-pound gorilla of conventional thought, The Wall Street Journal, got in on the revival act right there in a headline: ‘Home Sales Bode Well for Big Picture: Second Consecutive Rise Points to Limited Fallout From Market Slump in 2007.’ By only the fifth paragraph, we are in the thick of an imaginary scenario: ‘If the housing slump is indeed bottoming out and starts to reverse itself in the months ahead, it would…’

Read more here.

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