Two exceptional pieces of national economic news have buoyed the markets and raised hope for a recovery yet again. Combined, they show a picture of a national economy that has mostly recovered from the damage done to it by the financial sector.
The question now becomes if that recovery can be robust enough to outpace the damage that the financial meltdown did to the national labor market. The injury, that is, has proven easily healed, but was the blood loss too severe for the patient to recover?
Today, it was announced the economy shrank at an annualized pace of just 1% during the second quarter – a rate far removed from the roughly 6% of the first quarter.
Perhaps just as importantly for the New York City real estate market, national housing in prices in May rose for the first time in three years. In one sense, this reflects simply a combination of a mild return to normalcy with seasonal patterns. Still, it is the fourth straight month wherein the pace of decline from monthly year-on-year figures has slowed.
If this proves to be the point of stability for the national housing market, then average housing prices will have declined roughly one-third of their total value over the course of the collapse of the bubble. 2009 is now 2003, at least in terms of home prices.
While only economists on the fringe of the mainstream have been seeing signs of a recovery, these two important figures have led some at the Fed and other important institutions to describe the state of things as a genuine easing of the economic malaise.
While the national housing market is more an aggregate of many different housing markets than a true “market” unto itself, the growth in home values in May is an important indicator that the nation’s economic free-fall ended some time before the beginning of the summer. The second quarter GDP figures confirm that suspicion.
Both of these statistics are a long way removed from a direct connection with the New York apartment market. Nonetheless, like so many markets, New York’s real estate market won’t be able to recover until the national labor market stops its free-fall.
With GDP declining slowly, the declining housing market no longer siphoning off consumer demand from most sectors of the economy, and the bulk of the jobs money from the stimulus package about to enter the real economy, the stage seems set, at least, for a true recovery.


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