I think we've hit bottom.
I think this economy is starting to turn around--that what we needed was to get past the election cycle, get past the unrelenting doom & gloom, and to re-set the economy.
I'm a referee for forclosures here in Nassau County. I get assigned a very, very small proportion of the forclosures here, but I am, about once a month, present during the every-Tuesday forclosure sales.
Go back about 2 years ago--very few forclosures made it to sale (the mortgages were either refinanced, or the house was sold privately. The ones that did make it to auction would regularly be bid on by the business people who specialize in buying forclosed houses. On very few occassions would the bank have to eat the house--that is, actually have to take the house back because no one bid more than the outstanding balance of the mortgae, late fees, etc.
The past 6 months? Virtually every house was bought by the bank. We would go through 40-50 sales with not a single private bid. Not one.
This past Tuesday? Of the 40 or so houses on the auction block, about 6 were bid on--a few very vigourously. Which means that the pros in the room think there is now a margin between the fair market value of the homes and the purchase price.
A small sign--and maybe a false one. But for the first time in a long time there was excitement in the room.
Now today's news brings the good tidings that January retail sales were up. Surprisingly up.
And, further, jobless claims were down.
Don't get me wrong--even if we've stopped the downward spiral, there are still waves of pain to be felt, and it could be a long time before the economy starts to grow again. But many conservative economists think that the stimulus bill is unnecessary, and possibly harmful. And if we are already starting to see signs of healing, then they may very well be correct.