Housing is likely to be a hot topic this week, as the government looks to help strapped homeowners and new-home sales data are released.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, may announce changes as soon as Monday to refinancing rules for homeowners who owe more than their properties are worth. Many have been unable to refinance at today’s ultra-low rates.
The Case-Shiller index of home prices should give an indication about whether the distressed housing market is showing any signs of rebound. So far, the news has not been good. Housing values remain near lows reached during the financial crisis and have held steady for the past several months.
In addition, the Conference Board, an economic analysis organization, plans to update its consumer confidence figures. Last month, consumers reported that the economy was worsening.
Finally, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to visit a fiber-optics manufacturer in North Carolina, following President Obama’s trip to the politically important state last month.
European leaders are slated to meet to complete a plan to solve the continent’s debt crisis, as they seek to protect European banks and expand a massive fund to aid indebted European nations.
The U.S. government, meanwhile, is set to release figures on new-home sales, another important measure of the state of the housing market. In recent months, few homes have been sold, a sign the market has not been recovering as is needed for the economy to heal.
The U.S. government is set to give the first indication of overall U.S. economic growth in the three-month period ending Sept. 30. In the previous quarter, the economy grew 1.3 percent, and in the first quarter, it grew 0.4 percent. Many economists are hoping for a more robust number this week.
— Zachary A. Goldfarb
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