The missing piece of the economic puzzle, the one thing that has made this recovery so much weaker than previous ones, may finally be falling into place: The housing market appears to be in a sustained recovery from what can only be called a depression.

So far, new home sales in 2012 are up sharply on average from 2011, while existing home sales are up, too, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Inventory has dropped substantially. See NAHB data.

And median sale prices of new and existing homes have risen by around 5% so far this year, their biggest price increases in years. See the full story at