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Let's Hear It For The Economy

More Americans bought new homes in April than in any other month on record. This was made official in Washington today. And this, friends, is news. Good news.

So is this: the nation's Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose, went up, in April. Again. This closely watched economic forecasting gauge has not decreased in a year.

What that means, to most forecasters, is that there may be virtually no risk of a recession this years.

The U.S. economy does show signs of slowing, overall, at least a bit. Asia's economic turmoil, for one thing, is beginning to hurt U.S. manufacturing some.

What we have, in this news of the leading economic indicators, is growth, still...but tepid growth.

So, while the overall U.S. economy continues to look healthy, very healthy, some slowing is evident.

This, too, may be healthy for the long pull, for example, chances of inflation may be dampened.

Keep in mind that America has low unemployment and low interest rates, partly because inflation is in check.

Which brings us back to the news about more new homes being purchased. People buy homes when they are confident about the future, and when they have money to spend.

With unemployment at a 28-year low of just 4.3 percent...income growth for workers is strong, and Americans confidence in the economy is nearly the highest since the late l960s.

The reason these latest home buying figures are so encouraging, so good for the country, was stated today by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, son the former New York governor and now a Clinton cabinet member said, "Owning a home is the physical manifestation of everything this country is all about. Homes are not just bricks and mortar. They really represent something special in this country. They embody the aspiration of the American people and represent the success of this great land has to offer."

President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, and their leadership, deserve some credit for what is happening to the U.S. economy. So does the Republican-controlled Congress, under House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

They all get a lot of criticism. Much of it they deserve. But when they do things right, they also deserve to have that noted.

And, this is one of those times. Today's figures underscore a strong U.S. economy. When the economy is this strong, there is plenty of credit to go around. Let's pause for ...applause.

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