COMMENTS: Econowatch

What to worry about in economic news? NBC selected rising prices and ABC chose falling ones. Betsy Stark (embargoed link) led off ABC's newscast with statistics from Case-Shiller that the average price of a home in the nation's top 20 metropolitan areas has now fallen to 2004 levels, 15% below what it was this time last year. Trish Regan of CNBC reported on Dow Chemical on NBC. The supplier of raw materials for "for just about everything from laundry detergent to diapers to lipstick" has increased its prices for the second time in five weeks: in May the hike was 20%; now it is 25%.

Consumers are so worried about the rising price of gasoline, NBC's Ron Mott reported, that all sorts of businesses--auto dealerships, golf equipment, baseball stadiums, grocery stores, hotels, brothels--are offering free fuel as a sales incentive. CBS, meanwhile, filed a couple of hard times features. Anthony Mason looked at homeowners facing foreclosure who owe more on their mortgage than the property is worth. Some can negotiate "short sales" with the bank, he explained, whereby the bank accepts the sale price as its payment in full to save itself the expense of taking possession of the property. A realtor in New Jersey told Mason that fully 80% of his deals nowadays are short sales. As part of Seth Doane's The Other America feature on CBS, we were introduced to the Remenar family of suburban Detroit. Laid-off automotive designer Mike Remenar is reduced to working a newspaper delivery round and using food stamps. "Do you consider yourselves middle class?" "Not any more. We were." "What do you consider yourselves now?" "Lower class."


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