It’s been a rough year for a lot of folks — between rising costs of energy and groceries, mortgage woes, and more cost-cutting downsized working cuts…a whole lot of folks are feeling even more squeezed by the end of the year than they were at the start. Here’s a round-up of some of the latest news on the economic front:

From Calculated Risk, the credit crunch is still having an impact on housing numbers:

The impact of the credit crunch is obvious as sales in September, October and November declined sharply from earlier in the year….

Existing housing inventory numbers are down slightly, but this corresponds with an annual trend of post-summer reduction in houses remaining onthe market due to seasonal/weather concerns. Calculated Risk promises more evaluation on this later in the day, and I look forward to reading it.

– Subprime mortgage lobbyists inside the Beltway? Must have escaped from a zoo. From Naked Capitolism:

The article describes the lobbying efforts of subprime lender Ameriquest and three industry associations of which it was a member. While it nails details of the efforts at the federal and particularly state level to neuter legislation that would have imposed higher standards on subprime operators, it doesn’t give any sense as to how large these contributions were relative to other financial services industry pet causes….

It’s more accurate to say it made the state rules irrelevant. Federally chartered banks could offer subprime products to mortgage brokers and directly to customers. The fact that some state chartered banks would be constrained would have minimal impact on the availability of the product. And it would therefore be futile to keep the new laws in place, since their effect would simply be to restrict the activities, and likely profits, of state-chartered entities….

Nothing like a lobbyist-fueled wholesale national rules change and to hell with that whole "states’ rights" campaign, eh, folks? More and better Democrats…soon.

Robert Shiller says that a recession in the form of a long-term economic slump a la Japan could be around the corner for the US of A.

– Based on this gem from Krugman (with an assist from this Ian classic), I heartily concur with Atrios’ designation of Greenspan as Wanker of the Day.

From The Kinks song "Low Budget" (from their album of the same name):

…Circumstance has forced my hand
To be a cut price person in a low budget land
Times are hard but well all survive
I just got to learn to economize…