Housing Recovery Threatened by Government Shutdown

Oct 2, 2013 8:01am

Morning Money Memo …

Do you know what the government does for you? If there’s a long shutdown we might find out the hard way. The housing recovery would be threatened. The approval of thousands of mortgages will be slowed. Lenders will be blocked from verifying Social Security numbers and getting tax records from the IRS. “That will be where the holdup occurs,” Don Frommeyer, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers tells USA Today. The shutdown will also lengthen the time it takes for borrowers to get approval for FHA-backed mortgages. Most of the full-time staff at the Federal Housing Agency has been furloughed.

The  single-day cost of a federal government shutdown is $300 million, according the economic consulting firm IHS Global Insight. The IHS analysis, shared with ABC News, accounts only for the lost wages and productivity from the nearly 800,000 furloughed federal workers. The cost to the economy would be far greater because of potential layoffs in the private sector at government contractors.

The IRS says not only will it accept tax returns and payments during the shutdown, but those payments are required by law. The agency, however, says it will issue no refunds until the government resumes normal operations. While most Americans file their taxes in the spring, more than 12 million asked for a six-month extension, and those returns are due Oct. 15. For those with questions, IRS call centers will not be staffed but automated lines are available.

Politics are keeping the markets on edge. The worry is the government shutdown could get snarled up in the debate over the debt ceiling, which may be a far greater threat to financial markets. “That’s what everybody’s watching, because if they don’t get that together that could be chaos in the bond market,” says Wall Street trader Alan Valdez. Stocks rose Tuesday. The Dow Jones index closed up 62 points. Futures are down this morning.

Starbucks wants to take a bigger bite out of lunchtime business when many of its stores are relatively empty. La Boulange sandwiches are being added to the food offerings, reports The Wall Street Journal. La Boulange is a San Francisco bakery purchased by Starbucks last year. Its products will be a major part of the food overhaul at the coffee store chain.

Most manufacturers experienced a drop in auto sales last month compared with the year before. Analysts blame it on a quirk in the calendar, with the strong Labor Day weekend counting in August totals this year. Despite the calendar change Ford and Chrysler did see small sales gains compared with a year ago. General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota all report declines, with GM’s sales down 11 percent.

 

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