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Best business commentary
January 18, 2008
Leave the stimulating to the Fed
We don’t need “a politically motivated economic stimulus bill,” say Bill Thomas and Alex Brill in The Wall Street Journal. But with the presidential candidates “eager to ‘rescue’ voters” and President Bush trying to avoid leaving on “a sour note,” the “political calendar” shows the time as ripe for one. The “economic data,” however, “are far from compelling.” But even if a stimulus were a good idea, passing a tax cut takes “at least six months,” and the “easiest ‘stimulus’ package Washington could enact”—dropping “money from planes into the hands of voters/consumers”—is ineffective. It may not be “popular,” but the “potential” recession is “best handled by the Federal Reserve.”
A good time for some home improvement
The “housing market has veered off course,” says Jessica Anderson in Kiplinger.com, but that doesn’t mean your remodeling plans should. It’s a buyer’s market for contractors and subcontractors, and the right project can lead to “substantial” returns when you sell. Upgrading the kitchen and bathroom are good bets, as long as you “don’t overimprove” them. But the highest returns come from “replacement projects—windows, siding, and roofs.” Will you recoup your investment? “That depends.” But “even if you don’t get all your money back,” the home improvements could help “tip buyers in your direction” in a tough market.
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