What is going on in the housing market is "not all that clear," according to the president's chief economic adviser, who says he believes the economy will be less dependent in the future on high levels of consumer consumption and residential construction for growth.The housing data are "going in a lot of different directions," with housing starts going down and new-home sales going up, Edward Lazear said in his first speech since becoming chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors in February. "Although a lot of people think there probably is a softening, there is no indication that there is anything there that is fundamentally a problem for the economy," Mr. Lazear said in response to a question at a Hudson Institute meeting. He noted that commercial construction is quite strong and recent reports show that business investment is very strong, which he said should offset declines in residential construction.

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