I've got an idea for a time machine. Put Barack Obama in charge of the economy and before you know it, time will go into reverse and we'll begin to see our home values as they were in 2002 and durable goods orders lower than at any time since 2009.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index shows prices dropped in December from November in 18 of the 20 cities tracked. The steepest declines were in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. Miami and Phoenix were the only cities to show an increase.
The declines partly reflect the typical slowdown that comes in the fall and winter.
Nationwide, prices have fallen 34% nationwide since the housing bust, back to 2002 levels. A gauge of quarterly national prices, which covers 70% of U.S. homes, fell to its lowest point on records dating back to 1987.
Man, I feel younger already. And what about durable goods orders?
New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods fell in January by the most in three years as demand slumped across the board, suggesting the economy started the year on weaker footing than expected.
Durable goods orders dropped 4 percent, the biggest decline since January 2009 when the country was still mired in a deep recession, according to Commerce Department data on Tuesday.
"It is not a great start to January," said David Watt, a currency strategist at RBC Capital in Toronto.
Data on durable goods can be volatile, and January's weakness followed strong gains in December and November. Still, economists had forecast orders falling just 1.0 percent.
A slew of economic data had recently allayed fears economic growth could slow sharply in the first quarter. Other gauges for manufacturing have been more solid, for example, and the unemployment rate sank to a three-year low last month.
The weak orders reading could add to concerns about the many threats faced by the U.S. economic recovery.
This is better than H.G.Wells. Of course, over all, we are experiencing the worst economy in 80 years so there are some drawbacks to being able to go back to a simpler time in American history. If we can only figure out a way to keep going back in time while living with an economy that actually works, the problems with our time machine will be solved and we can all get rich marketing it to rich people.