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The Housing Market Slows, Charity Gains and Economics Loses Two Great Thinkers

The slow housing market has experts worried.  Warren Buffett gives billions away.  And two influential thinkers are gone. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

This week, we look back at a few of the year's biggest economic stories.

In recent years, home building and buying have increased, helping expand the American economy. But this year, the housing market has cooled. New home building dropped by more than twenty-five percent since last November.

Many experts blame the housing market for the slow economic growth of two percent in the three-month period ending in October. In response, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. Banks followed the Federal Reserve's decisions on interest rates.

While housing declined, giving money to good causes increased. Businessman Warren Buffett announced a gift of about thirty-seven billion dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mister Buffett, an investor, is chief of Berkshire Hathaway. He is the world's second richest man.

Bill Gates is the richest. Mister Gates helped start and remains the top shareholder of Microsoft, the world's biggest computer software maker. He started his foundation with his wife in two thousand. It gives money to health and educational causes around the world.

Mister Buffett's gift to the Gates Foundation was one and one half billion dollars this year. And finally, the United States lost two influential economic thinkers this year. They were on opposite sides of most economic arguments.

John Kenneth Galbraith died in April at age ninety-seven. He not only influenced economists, but was a political force. He advised President John F. Kennedy in the nineteen sixties. And he opposed President Lyndon Johnson on the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War.

The Harvard professor considered economics to be moral as well as mathematical. He thought government must intervene in the economy to guarantee fairness in society.

Milton Friedman did not trust government to solve problems of joblessness or high prices. But he did believe it should control the money supply to fight inflation.

Mister Friedman advised President Richard Nixon and President Ronald Reagan in the nineteen seventies and eighties. He played a part in pulling the United States out of a period of high unemployment and inflation in the nineteen seventies.

For his work, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in nineteen seventy-six. He died in November at age ninety-four.

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT. I'm Mario Ritter.