Case Shiller Goes Sideways

Going Sideways
Going Sideways

The news stories are all over the map about the latest Case Shiller Home Price Index for January. It's down, says CNN. No, up, says Forbes. Unchanged, declares The Wall Street Journal.

You were expecting clarity?

Before last summer, the index tended to move boldly, rising or falling by several points a month. Now Case Shiller moves in fractions: up 0.6, down 0.5. The changes are so small they get reversed by the seasonal adjustment. Journalists have been using the tiny ups and downs in the index to read big changes in the housing markets, but in reality, home prices have been flat since last summer.