In one step to support a languishing housing sector, the Obama administration and federal regulators are directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-owned housing-finance giants, to direct their focus toward making more credit available to homeowners, rather than pulling back from the mortgage market.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, is another major factor shaping the global economic outlook. A report out earlier this week showed 9.9% declines in home sales during the first four months of the year in China, compared with a year earlier. Retail sales and industrial production also slowed according to the Wall Street Journal.
Authorities have already rolled out what they call “mini-stimulus” measures. And in one recent sign of concern about China’s sluggish property market, People’s Bank of China officials earlier this week pushed the nation’s major lenders to give priority in mortgage lending to first-time home buyers, according to a statement posted on the central bank’s website Tuesday. The central bank also pushed the commercial banks to set mortgage rates at “reasonable” levels.
For now, though, the most aggressive government efforts to boost growth are taking shape in Europe.