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THE LATEST FROM PPI

BATTLEGROUND HOME VALUES TICK UPWARD. The best cure for the ailing housing market is to stop the fall in home prices--and this may finally be happening. PPI's battleground home values index finds average median home prices across 16 swing states rose $863 from February to March 2012. This doesn't seem like much, but it's the first increase since December. Median home values are still down about 16% since 2008, but stable prices are a good sign for housing and for the broader recovery. See the chart HERE.

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DROPBOX, GOOGLE DRIVE AND THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX. PPI Chief Economic Strategist Michael Mandel notes an important omission from current economic data: the value of "free" online services such as Dropbox and their impact on the economy. As he writes, "We may have reached the point where Internet companies are providing free services that have a higher value than some things we pay for." Read HERE.

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AVOIDING EX-IM BANK REAUTH REDUX. The senseless and protracted battle over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank prompted Ex-Im bank veteran and PPI economist Diana Carew to offer up this suggestion for avoiding a repeat: extend the authorization period to at least five years, if not 10 or even 15. Diana argues that a longer authorization period would not only lessen the political uncertainty around the bank but provide more certainty to the businesses that benefit. Read HERE

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THE GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT DROUGHT CONTINUES.  WHAT SHOULD BE THE DEBATE AROUND DEFICITS. House Speaker John Boehner made headlines this week promising another potential pre-election fight over the debt limit. Unfortunately, such a showdown would get us no closer to solving the real problem: how to tackle the rising health care costs that are a root cause of our fiscal woes. As PPI contributors Steven Nyce and former Social Security Advisory Board Chairman Syl Schieber have pointed out, rising health care costs not only threaten to bust the budget, they are slowing down wage growth and contributing to inequality. Read HERE.

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