Economic reports – on employment, manufacturing, retail sales and even housing (sort of) ― have been increasingly, though not consistently, positive, providing persuasive if not entirely conclusive evidence that the recovery is on track and gaining strength. Why then are consumers still so uncertain about the economy’s prospects and their own?

Bidding wars.  There’s a phrase that hasn’t been heard (other than during card games) for several years.  But real estate agents in several markets are reporting increasing competition among prospective buyers for a limited supply of homes for sale. 

Baby boomers have reached, or are nearing, the age at which many will be down-sizing, moving from into smaller dwellings or retirement communities. The question is:  Who will buy the homes they currently own?

Jobs, jobs, jobs. There were more of them in February than January (also a good month) and more than analysts had been predicting, many of them that “the labor market has found its legs.”

Credit unions have reported a jump in membership over the past two years, and they might want to consider writing a note to the nation’s largest banks, thanking them for that gift. 

The Senate is considering legislation that would encourage lenders to reduce the principal balance on underwater loans, by giving them a share of any appreciation borrowers realize when the home is sold.

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” Is it possible that the sun is finally breaking through the clouds that have blanketed the economy for the past five years? It is always dangerous to read too much into a single report or a series of them, but it is hard not to detect a brightening sky in the positive economic data that have been accumulating with reassuring consistency over the past few months, topped most recently by the January employment report.

The long-anticipated “robo-signing” agreement resolving complaints about foreclosure abuses in multiple states is expected this week, but it’s not clear at this point how many state attorneys general will go along with it. That list seems to change day-by-day.

A Federal Reserve white paper urging more aggressive government action to strengthen the ailing housing market is attracting considerable attention – and drawing fire from Republican lawmakers and some economists, who think government should be reducing, not expanding, its housing role.

The economic indicators, which have been pointing erratically upward for much of this year, moved decisively into positive territory in December, with the December employment report providing an encouraging exclamation point at year-end.

Borrowers who default “strategically” on their mortgages – because they think it is in their financial interests – are influenced strongly by media coverage of the depressed housing market and by housing experts who suggest that walking away from an underwater loan is a rational response to a bad investment, a recent study contends.