Lacker: Housing improves, but is not enough to lift GDP

The housing market is one of the areas of the economy seeing growth, but it’s too early to declare economic victory at this point.

Officials with the Federal Reserve spent the past week trying to add context to Ben Bernanke’s comments after the release of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes.

Bernanke publicly suggested a pull back in mortgage-bond purchases could be coming, but did so without giving a timeline, sending the markets roiling.

Jeffrey Lacker, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, along with Fed Governor Jeremy Stein, noted Friday that housing is one of the few areas of the economy in recovery. For Stein, who also spoke this week, housing’s recovery shows the Fed’s aggressive MBS purchases worked.

Lacker agreed for the most part, saying the housing recovery is just one exception to all of the choppy growth experienced since 2009.

Home prices, he notes, ticked up 12% on average over the course of the past year.

While that’s good news, Lacker put the numbers into perspective, making the housing recovery seem less impressive on paper. 

Residential investment overall is less than 3% of gross domestic product. With this in mind, he asserted “housing by itself is not going to have a large effect on total GDP growth.”

On the upside, as home values rise, current homeowners see gains on their largest assets, boosting their confidence in the economy.

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