David Wessel alone is worth the price of the Wall Street Journal:
Oops: What Bernanke Said Five Years Ago Today: Five years ago, July 18, 2007, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the House Financial Services Committee as he is today. The housing bubble was bursting, cracks in the global financial system were just beginning to appear, but Bernanke didn’t sound terribly worried or prescient…. A look back at what Bernanke said then….
On mortgage markets:
Conditions in the subprime mortgage sector have deteriorated significantly reflecting mounting delinquency rates on adjustment rate loans. In recent weeks, we have also seen increased concerns among investors about credit risk on some other types of financial instruments. Credit spreads on lower quality corporate debt have widened somewhat and terms for some leveraged business loans have tightened. Even after their recent rise, however, credit spreads remain near the low end of their historical ranges and financing activity in the bond and business loan markets has remained fairly brisk.”
The pace of home sales seems likely to remain sluggish for a time, partly as a result of some tightening and lending standards and the recent increase in mortgage interest rates. Sales should ultimately be supported by growth in income and employment, as well as by mortgage rates that — despite the recent increase — remain fairly low relative to historical norms. However, even if demand stabilizes as we expect, the pace of construction will probably fall somewhat further as builders work down the stocks of unsold new homes. Thus, declines in residential construction will likely continue to weigh on economic growth over coming quarters, although the magnitude of the drag on growth should diminish over time…. One risk to the outlook is that the ongoing housing correction might prove larger than anticipated with possible spillovers onto consumer spending.