Capital Markets

More Scenes from the Economic Hyperpocalypse

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Somebody should tell the vice president.

It's late August, everybody's out of money, and all we've got's this sunny afternoon, so let's bask in the one thing we have in surplus: bad economic news.

Drudge has been highlighting a list of ominous stories, including some pretty interesting ones. Analyst Charles Nenner says the Dow will be down to 5,000 within 30 months. And Fast Money's John Melloy reports that nobody's buying stocks anymore: Equity trading in the slow month of August is the lowest it's been since 1999. Small investors are bailing on the stock market, and Melloy says many of them will never be back.

Calculated Risk has a roundup of causes for alarm, ranging from home sales to truck tonnage to an inevitable decline in the Case-Shiller housing index.

But strangely, the index has not come down yet: People are actually paying more for their worthless houses. I don't know what is more dismaying: that the National Association of Realtors brags about how the home buyer tax credit kept house prices rising even while sales were falling, or that Time titles one of its columns "The Curious Capitalist."

An AP double-dip story quotes the Sage of Moody's and provokes the truest comment of the day: "Mark Zandi has been WRONG on the economy every step of the way. 

And one bad news trend that may turn out to be good: The Mortgage Bankers Association continues to report that mortgage purchase activity is declining while refinance activity is increasing. Since personal debt is also falling, it's unlikely there's much HELOC activity in that figure, and since HAMP modifications have been underwhelming this means responsible borrowers are getting themselves into more attractive mortgages. The American government may be a slave to its spending habit, but Americans are getting their own debts under control.