What looks like a real economic indicator: The just-announced layoff of 3,000 people by Washington Mutual.
As you think about the home buying market, consider the details in the corporate release on this:
WaMu remains committed to providing mortgage products to its customers. However, the mortgage market is undergoing a fundamental shift due to credit dislocation and a prolonged period of reduced capital markets liquidity. As a result, WaMu expects national mortgage originations to shrink to $1.5 trillion in 2008, down about 40 percent from an estimated $2.4 trillion this year.
To reflect the changes in this market, WaMu will substantially adjust and resize its Home Loans business and also reduce corporate support expense.
-- Discontinue all remaining lending through its subprime mortgage channel;
-- Close approximately 190 of 336 home loan centers and sales offices;
-- Close nine Home Loans processing and call centers;
-- Eliminate approximately 2,600 Home Loans positions, or about 22 percent of its Home Loans staff;
-- Eliminate approximately 550 corporate and other support positions; and
-- Close WaMu Capital Corp., its institutional broker-dealer business, as well as its mortgage banker finance warehouse lending operation.