Update

March 2, 2007

Professional and financial news you can use.

AUTO SAFETY

Are you guilty of DWD?

REAL ESTATE

Home sales tumble

Sales of existing (read: previously owned) homes dropped 8.4 percent in 2006, from a record 7.1 million in 2005 to about 6.5 million last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Despite the slump, the median price for an existing home (single-family home, townhouse, condo, or co-op) remained virtually unchanged at $222,000. "A tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices," explains David Lereah, NAR's chief economist. If your home has been on the market for a while, keep your chin up: NAR expects the number of home sales to "rise modestly" over the course of 2007, coupled with slow, steady price gains through 2008.

MARKET FORECAST

The rich predict a solid 2007

Three out of five millionaires expect stock market gains of 6 percent and higher this year, according to a recent survey of high-net-worth individuals.* Among these "bullish" millionaires, 31 percent say they're "very optimistic" that corporate earnings growth will remain strong and that the current US economic expansion will continue (26 percent). Only 6 percent of millionaires expect market declines instead of gains in 2007.

The survey, "Wealth in America 2007," was conducted by Northern Trust. Among the report's other findings: US equities represent 43 percent of millionaires' assets, up slightly from 41 percent in 2005.

*Defined as having $1 million or more in nonreal-estate liquid or "investable" assets.

STAFFING LEVELS

New council meets to address shortages

Because physicians and nurses are interdependent, shortages in either discipline would aggravate shortages in the other, says the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, which called for efforts to expand the infrastructure for nursing and medical education to meet the country's future healthcare needs. With regard to doctors, the Council recommended increasing the number of residency slots, which would reduce dependence on foreign physicians while raising opportunities for US students. To ward off deeper shortages among nurses, the Council urged a national effort to support education at the baccalaureate level. It noted that nurse education currently favors associate degree nursing (ADN) programs, which it says receive the bulk of federal funding, yet few ADN graduates progress to much-needed advanced practice and faculty roles.

The Council, based in the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, is a multidisciplinary group that includes executives from the American Hospital Association, Medical Group Management Association, several universities, the journals Health Affairs and Academic Medicine, and The MHA Group, a staffing and consulting firm.