More Stimulus Follies

Readers will remember my chart the other day on the effects of the cash-for-clunkers auto stimulus program:

Folks who understand this dynamic will not be surprised by what is going on in the housing market now that free taxpayer cash for home buyers no longer is being handed out

Everybody take a nice long look at today's Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors, because it's just about the last positive picture we're going to see for a while.

Yes, the index rose even more than expected, as buyers rushed in to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit.And yes, those numbers will show up in Existing Home Sales in May and June, but then look out.

This index is based on contracts signed in August, and that's how the credit was set up; you had to sign your contract by April 30th and close by June 30th in order to get your $8000 if you're a first time buyer and $6500 if you're a move up buyer.

And then came May, traditionally the height of the spring housing season.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home began to sink. Now, four weeks later, mortgage purchase applications are down nearly 40 percent from a month ago to their lowest level since April of 1997.