FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Home prices are at their lowest in a decade.
The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 cities shows an average decline of 3.5% from a year ago. That puts home prices at the lowest since November 2002. Experts say foreclosures and other distressed property sales are the main challenge.
Some of the hardest hit housing markets include Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York.
The worst is Atlanta, where prices fell more than 17% year-over-year. Home prices in Atlanta haven't been this low in 16 years.
These numbers are scary:
For many Americans, their homes are their biggest asset. It's hard to imagine how the nation can manage an economic recovery with the housing market still hurting so badly.
And things might not improve for a long time. A very long time.
Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller says a total recovery of the housing market may take a generation. Shiller says he worries "that we might not see a major turnaround in our lifetimes."
And it's not just home prices that are suffering. A new government report shows new home sales dropped 7.1% in March to the lowest level since last November.
There's just no rush to buy. Mortgage rates might be at record lows, but if people don't have the money to buy it doesn't matter. Add in high unemployment along with high gas prices and uncertainty about the health of the economy and the future of housing looks pretty grim.
Here’s my question to you: Home prices are the lowest in a decade. How can the economy recover?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Congress won't do anything to fix the economy - that's the disturbing result of a CNN Money survey of economists.
Despite the huge issues on the horizon - a $15 trillion dollar debt, $1 trillion annual deficits, jobs, taxes - we can once again expect our Congress to do nothing.
Although the economists polled in this survey have lots of ideas about how to jump-start the U.S. economy, they don't expect Congress to act on any of it in the near future.
One economist put it this way: Congress will act "two weeks after a sudden freeze in Hell."
These experts are most worried about a weakening in economic readings - especially job growth.
So what would help? They'd like Congress to pass comprehensive tax reform, which would likely lower tax rates for corporations and individuals while eliminating many deductions and loopholes.
Most of these economists also support some extension of the Bush tax cuts and an extension of the partial payroll tax holiday.
The survey also found 40% of these economists want Congress to repeal Obamacare and about a quarter support the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform legislation.
Some of them believe the economy will be best off if Congress does as little as possible.
Looks like they'll probably get their wish.
With lawmakers in re-election mode we can't expect much action on the economy - or anything else for that matter. Pathetic.
As if to prove this point - late yesterday Senate Democrats canceled the votes on next year's budget. This would be the third year in a row that Congress fails to produce a budget, which is their job. Like we said, pathetic.
Here’s my question to you: If Congress won't fix the economy, what will it take?
Shocking new numbers on the housing crisis which show home prices down nearly 33% since peaking in the summer of 2006.
Translation: the value of many Americans' biggest asset has dropped by one-third in just the last 5 years.
The latest S&P/Case Shiller 20-city report shows home prices posted a steep drop in November, falling 1.3%. Some of the hardest-hit cities include Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit.
Compared to a year ago, home prices are down close to 4%.
Experts say that home prices are still falling despite record low interest rates and better GDP growth. They think prices will continue to drop this year and maybe even into next year before finally stabilizing.
Some suggest prices are down in part because more sellers are willing to accept the weak market conditions and lower their asking prices.
Also playing a role is the increase of sales of properties in foreclosure - look no further than Nevada, the site of Saturday's caucuses, which is the foreclosure capital of the country. Arizona and California also suffer from some of the highest foreclosure rates.
Meanwhile the U.S. Census Bureau says that the nation's homeownership rate has fallen to 66% - the lowest in seven years.
Economists tell USA Today that while the housing industry's downturn may be nearing a bottom, the impact will be felt for years.
They say even for people who want to buy a home, they may have difficulty getting financing for a mortgage.
In short, we've got a long way to go before the housing market rebounds.
Here’s my question to you: How have collapsing home prices impacted you?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
As President Obama heads out to campaign for re-election, he has his work cut out for him.
A new Gallup poll shows Americans are "broadly dissatisfied" with the state of the nation on many issues – and in some cases, that satisfaction has dropped off a cliff since 2008.
The most toxic issue for Americans? The economy, which also happens to be the top issue on most voters' minds.
Only 13% of those surveyed in this poll say they are satisfied with the state of the economy. 13%.
Most ominously for Mr. Obama, that's a 23-point drop since January of 2008, the year before he took office.
This is the lowest rate of satisfaction and the biggest decline in the last four years for any of the 24 issues Gallup measured.
Up next: Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans are satisfied with both the moral and ethical climate in the country and the size and power of the federal government. There's been a double-digit drop in satisfaction for both these issues since 2008.
There's more: Most Americans are also dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country and with the nation's efforts to deal with poverty.
No surprise there with more than 46 million Americans living below the poverty line and a record number on food stamps.
On the plus side, Americans are most satisfied with the overall quality of life in the U.S. along with the nation's security from terrorism and its military strength.
But if you buy the election year admonition, "It's the economy, stupid," then where President Obama is concerned, it's a problem.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean for President Obama that Americans' dissatisfaction with the economy has skyrocketed since 2008?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
Fear of big government is close to record highs here in the U.S.
According to a new Gallup poll, 64% of those surveyed say big government is the biggest threat to the country. That's one point off the all-time high.
Compare that to 26% who are most worried about big business... and only 8% who say the biggest threat comes from big labor.
Americans have always been more concerned about big government than about big business or big labor since this question was first asked in 1965.
But what's interesting here is that Democrats actually lead the increase in concern about big government... this during the term of a Democratic president, Barack Obama.
Almost half of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to the U.S. That's up significantly from two years ago And more significantly, it's higher than the number of Democrats who worry about big business.
These poll numbers may also suggest that the Occupy Wall Street movement isn't catching on.
Despite the movement's targeting of corporate America, most Americans don't view big business as the greatest threat to the country.
In fact, the public's concerns about big business are down since 2009. Worries about big business actually peaked in 2002 - after the scandals at Enron and Worldcom.
But what the American people are worried about is big government and the role it plays in their day-to-day lives.
A government that has only gotten bigger under a president who's running for re-election.
Here’s my question to you: What do you fear most: big government, big business or big labor?
Thinking of retiring? Think again.
A new survey shows 56% of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings.
The survey by "the employee benefit research institute" also finds that nearly 30% of workers are "not at all" confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement. That's a record high.
Researchers point out that many people don't even know how much they need to save for retirement.
It's estimated a 65-year-old retiree needs $1.1 million dollars in savings to draw $50,000 a year.
That assumes 3% inflation and a 5% annual return on investments.
Financial advisers tell USA Today they're seeing more workers and new retirees with no savings and no plan to get out of debt.
They point to several factors jeopardizing retirement today, including:
Sadly, there aren't many options as you near retirement age and don't have money stashed away.
You can either work longer - which millions of Americans are planning to do - save more or get a higher return on your investments. Or cut your costs.
So much for the golden years.
Here's my question to you: Where are Americans headed if more than half of workers say they have less than $25,000 in savings?
A Merry Christmas may be harder to come by this holiday season for millions of Americans in light of the slumping economy.
A new CBS News poll shows one in two Americans are concerned they won't be able to afford the holiday gifts they would like to buy.
One-third say they're feeling more stress about holiday spending this year than they have in years past.
And overall, 4 in 10 people say they plan to spend less money on gifts this year than last.
For sure, the holidays are about much more than gift-giving, but how's this for a sign of the times:
Santa Clauses are learning how to lower children's expectations when it comes to their wish lists.
The New York Times has a terrific piece on a well-known Michigan school for Santa Clauses.
The Santas talk about how they size up a family's finances and then try to scale back the child's gift requests.
They talk of parents standing off to the side and shaking their heads no - while the kids sit on their laps asking for expensive toys.
One Santa says the bottom line is to "never promise anything," while others tell the children about slower toy production at the North Pole - or that Santa rarely brings everything on a list.
These Santas are also learning how to answer a question they're hearing more often this days: Can you bring my Mom or Dad a job?
Other children's expectations are running smack into today's economic reality. One boy recently asked a Santa for only one thing - a pair of sneakers that fit.
Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, how will your holiday season be different this year?
More bleak news on the job front: A new Gallup poll shows a whopping 90% of Americans say now is a bad time to find a quality job. That's up from less than 50% before the recession in January 2007.
Only 8% think now is a good time to find a quality job. Gallup says these perceptions of the job market are the worst in a decade.
Younger Americans are slightly more optimistic about finding quality jobs while older people and those with postgraduate education are more pessimistic.
The key word here is "quality" jobs, and it might represent a bigger story than the actual unemployment numbers. A lack of quality jobs reduces people's current earnings as well as their future earnings since they're not getting the right experience.
Companies sometimes complain that they can't find employees with the right skills. Part of this is due to education, but the other part is that Americans aren't getting "quality" jobs where they can learn those skills.
Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate dropped to 9% in October. The good news is that's the lowest it's been since April. Also, jobless claims fell again last week.
The bad news: More than two years after the recession officially ended, only a quarter of the 8.8 million lost jobs have been recovered.
Last month alone, nearly 14 million Americans remained unemployed, and 42% of them have been out of work for more than six months.
Here's my question to you: When do you think the job market will improve?
From Jack Cafferty, CNN
The United States is on its way to being Greece one day, and no one wants to acknowledge it.
Our national debt increased by more than $200 billion in October alone.
That comes out to $650 for every man, woman and child in this country.
The U.S. debt is now at more than $14.9 trillion … and likely will top a staggering $15 trillion by the end of November.
The congressional “super committee” is trying to cut $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That's not even a drop in the bucket - and lawmakers are still whining about how hard it is.
The whole idea that the federal government is in any way serious about the national debt is a joke. Even after America's credit rating was downgraded, our leaders continue to spend money at an unsustainable rate.
And, if they don't get serious - and very soon - you only need to take a look at Greece for a glimpse of our future.
The Greek government is on the verge of collapse in the wake of its debt crisis.
The euro and European banks have been thrown into crisis by Greece's debt and by Prime Minister George Papandreou's actions.
First, Papandreou announced there would be a referendum vote on the European bailout - and now he says there won't. Meanwhile, his government might vote him out of power Friday.
Greece has been holding the world hostage because Papandreou's government doesn't have the stones to make the tough decisions.
Sounds kind of like the politicians here who don't have the stones to tell the American people the party is over and it's time to pay the tab.
Here's my question to you: Is Greece a preview of what's to come for the U.S.?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
The worst recession since the Great Depression may have ended more than two years ago, but millions of Americans aren't feeling much relief.
The Wall Street Journal highlights some sobering economic statistics that explain why this achingly slow recovery feels more like a recession.
For starters, people are making less money:
The income of the median household - which fell about 3 percent during the recession - has dropped another 7 percent since the recession ended.
It's estimated the income of the typical American household - adjusted for inflation - has fallen well below the January 2000 level.
Then there are the jobs: the national unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 9 percent, and almost half the unemployed have been out of work for at least six months.
And having an education doesn't necessarily help. Research shows that since 2009, median incomes of households led by high school graduates, those with two-year degrees and those with bachelor's degrees all fell.
As for the housing market, it still hasn't rebounded: one in five mortgage holders has a loan bigger than the value of their home.
And a new report out suggests the housing market has even further to fall... with home prices headed for a triple-dip. It says by next June home values will have dropped to a new low of 35 percent below the peak reached in early 2006.
One recent poll shows only 1 in 5 Americans think the economy will improve in the next 12 months.
Here's my question to you: Does the weak recovery feel more like a recession to you?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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