Federal Reserve Board governor Sarah Raskin said Friday evening that the depressed housing market remains a “critically important drag on the economy” and a strong housing sector is “critical” to achieving a strong and sustainable recovery.

Raskin, in just her second public speech since joining the Board of Governors last Oct. 4, warned of further home price decreases and, in turn, further constraints on consumer spending and economic growth if steps are not taken to halt foreclosures.

She sounded more gloomy about the economy than did Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke in congressional testimony two days ago.

Rankin focused her attention on the ongoing doldrums in the housing industry and the financial difficulties of home owners who find themselves unable to meet their mortgage obligations in a still soft economy.

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