Key economic events for the week of Nov. 21

November 20, 2011

The short holiday week should be an uncommonly busy one for economic news.

Monday

After last week’s strong data on housing permits, one might hope for more improvement in housing out of the October existing-home sales report. Analysts aren’t betting on it, however, forecasting a 2.2 percent decline in the number of home sales. Keep in mind that this is a lagging indicator — it reflects transactions that closed in October, which would have been initiated in late summer.

Tuesday

The Commerce Department makes its first revision of third-quarter gross domestic product data, which is expected to show no change from the original 2.5 percent estimate.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes of its Nov. 1-2 policy meeting. While there were no policy changes at the session, the minutes are worth particular scrutiny.

One key question is what the minutes say about the debate within the Fed policy committee over its strategies for communicating goals to the public. For example, some members have argued for setting an explicit level of unemployment or inflation that would prompt the Fed to back away from its ultra-easy money policies. The minutes will give a sense of whether that or some other approach is starting to gain critical mass on the Federal Open Market Committee, or if consensus is still elusive.

Similarly, look for new evidence of what it would take for the FOMC to move toward new monetary easing measures, such as buying mortgage-backed securities.

Wednesday

Analysts expect new data on durable goods orders to show a dip in October, breaking from the recent pattern of positive economic data. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a good proxy for business investment, are projected to have dropped 1 percent after a 2.4 percent gain in September.

Personal income and spending data are expected to show steady growth in October, however. Analysts expect both to have risen 0.3 percent, which would bode well for overall fourth-quarter growth.

— Neil Irwin

Neil’s Must Reads

Think you can do better than Jean-Claude Trichet? The European Central Bank has an online game in which you guide the continent’s monetary policy and aim to keep inflation low and stable amid various shocks. It’s harder than it looks! And read ThinkProgress blogger Matthew Yglesias on what the game says about the ECB.

Find links at washingtonpost.com/

mustreads.

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