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Homebuilders broke ground at an annual rate of 1.2 million new homes in December, an increase of 11.3% over November, beating economists expectations.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

The news, along with recent surveys showing higher homebuilder confidence, solidifies the narrative that homebuilders are finally ready to start producing in earnest again, more than 10 years after the peak of the mid-aughts housing bubble.

Trulia economist Ralph McLaughlin points out in a research note that when controlling for the number of households in the U.S., housing construction remains 38% below its long-run average. That means there is plenty of room for the industry to continue to recover.

Why it matters: At it's peak, the housing industry can contribute upwards of 18% to overall GDP. And home construction jobs are the sort of middle-skilled, middle-class employment that the U.S. desperately lacking. A steep increase in housing construction activity could be a huge boon for the economy in 2017.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The beginning of the beginning for Biden's climate push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
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Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

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3 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

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