Is the Housing Bust Over?

Well, yes, if we believe former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. Two months ago, he claimed "the housing market had already bottomed," citing a stabilization in mortgage application rates to buttress his view.

Uh, not so fast, Al.

Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer and fixed-income expert at money-management firm TCW Group, differed with Easy Al in an interviewin Barron’s. Gundlach said "Greenspan is out of his mind to declare a bottom in the housing market after just a six-month slide. This is the kind of silly optimism that one would expect from somebody who’d just passed his real-estate brokerage exam and was hoping to drum up some business."

"Gundlach, in contrast, sees lots of trouble ahead for U.S. residential real estate. In fact, he sees no bottom in the slump until at least 2008 and no meaningful recovery until at least 2010. Nor is he particularly sanguine about the economy, in light of this housing downturn. Among other things, he sees about a 60% probability of the U.S. falling into recession by the middle of next year with housing alone lopping off at least 1.5 percentage points in growth.

A weak housing market will hurt in a number of respects. Consumers are less likely to spend freely when their biggest asset is getting drilled. Then too, housing accounts for a major chunk of U.S. employment when one accounts for all the construction, finance and retail jobs that depend on a lusty new-construction and resale market. Nor with home prices stable or falling will as many U.S. consumers be able to avail themselves of cash-out refinancings to underwrite their lifestyles, says Gundlach."

While Gundlach may be talking his book — he is a long-time bond fund manager, after all– he is mnore knowledgable than most. Over two decades at Trust Co. of the West, he has chalked up an enviable record running fixed-income portfolios, particularly for mortgage-backed securities, the firm’s specialty.

And his experince suggests that the housing bust is only in its early innings:

"For one thing, the unprecedented dimension of the preceding boom of the past five years dictates a longer and bloodier workout period.

Likewise, shoddy home-lending practices abounded as never before, amplifying the housing bubble, according to Gundlach. Property values were inflated by bogus appraisals. Borrowers were allowed to qualify for mortgages far beyond their financial means. Income and assets were rarely verified, particularly in the subprime lending market. New mortgages were confected, allowing borrowers to keep their monthly payments low by either repaying just interest or, in the case of the option-adjusted rate mortgage, not even having to cover the full interest payment in the loan’s early years. Gundlach contemptuously labels such loose lending ploys as "shoe-horn financing."

Likewise, special fixed "teaser" rates in the first two to three years of the mortgage also kept monthly payments low before rates began to adjust upward for the remaining life of the mortgage. One could always refinance every couple of years to stay at the lower teaser rates and avoid the lash of high fully indexed rates. But now that game is likely over, says Gundlach. Teaser rates have moved sharply higher since the Fed tightening that’s raised the fed-funds rate to 5.25%. Gundlach expects lenders to become timorous, especially with home appraisal values likely to fall."

Fascinating stuff!


Housing’s Woes May Be in Early Innings

Barron’s, December 4, 2006

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  1. rob commented on Dec 2

    All you have to do is drive around a florida city to know there is a lot of hidden inventory out there. flips that flopped now have “for rent” signs out front instead of “for sale.”

    The next step is “fore closure”

  2. Michael C. commented on Dec 2

    Thinking about putting on some long-dated housing stock puts. Will have to do some research this weekend.

    Anyone know off hand which stocks have the weakest/worst management?

  3. Robert Coté commented on Dec 2

    Those teaser ratesc are recorded at the full rate as current income by lenders. Expect revisions.

  4. Bob A commented on Dec 2

    Why can’t people who are long past their prime fade gracefully into retirement and quit messing up the world for the rest of us? That would include Sumner Redstone, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch to name a few.

  5. winjr commented on Dec 2

    Michael C queried:

    “Anyone know off hand which stocks have the weakest/worst management?”

    FWIW, WCI is at the top of my list. Jeff Starkey, CEO, is pretty arrogant and even said in the latest CC that condos cancelled by purchasers with 20% down – he fully expects to resell for 90% of the original contract price. Neat trick, huh?

    Anyhow, apparently everybody else has the same opinion of WCI’s fate; almost 50% of the float is shorted. So, yeah, if you buy puts, make sure they’re VERY long dated.

  6. Robert Coté commented on Dec 2

    Not a homebulder but Countrywide has my attention. Mozillo is smart/lucky. So smart/lucky that as smart and luck would have it has cashed out more than $20m of CFC in November alone. With 5000 employees in on of the most expensive housing areas in the nation I fully expect an emergency reorginization/merger of equals hatever that guts their corporate staff and relocates. Unfortunately we all know what happens with those, the company stumbles over the massive shuffling of personell especially since these forced reloactions self select for the worst employees being retained. So, upper management divesting, phantom earnings on their held portfolio, industrywide slowdown, high expenses, their own real estate assets exposed to revaluation, etc. etc. Perfect storm in my (not investment advice) opinion.

  7. ml commented on Dec 2

    I think Greenspan is more of politician than he ever was an economist. You didn’t have to be a perma-bear to know the housing market was over-inflated, much like stocks in 1999; mean reversion was long overdue. He just makes himself look stupid when he says things like that. I don’t know why anyone pays any attention to him still. The FED head is politically appointed and is going to always err on the side where his bread is buttered.

  8. SINGER commented on Dec 2

    What troubles me is the lack of rationality behind the theory that a market can go higher over a 10 year period and exhibit signs of a bubble and then “correct” in the space of a year…

    Things just don’t work that way…

  9. KP commented on Dec 2

    Greenspan is just doing damage control. He would like to keep his speaking engagement rates up.

  10. V L commented on Dec 2

    Maybe Greenspan is a commie. He certainly had followed Lenin’s prescriptions for destroying the capitalism through creating and maintaining high inflation and devaluing USD.

    Lenin about inflation and the destruction of capitalism:

    “…The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency (this is what our government is doing). By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become ‘profiteers,’ who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery…”
    If our government continues this inflationary nonsense and devaluing the dollar, Lenin will be certainly right. “The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

  11. Macro Man commented on Dec 2


    House prices in the UK suffered a sharp decline in the rate of growth but have subsequently rebounded. Click my name and scroll down to see the chart. While correlation is certainly not causation, the rebound in UK house prices does offer some crumb of comfort to those looking for some stabilization in the US.

  12. V L commented on Dec 2

    Macro Man,

    Do you mind me asking? Why do you think it will be like in England and not like in Japan?

    “When the bubble burst, property prices plummeted more than 80%, undermining company balance sheets, wiping out many families’ wealth and helping plunge the economy into 13 years of stagnation.” ~ Financial Times, March 24, 2005, referring to Japan in the late 1980s.

    Back in the late 1980s, the Japanese felt the same way about real estate investing as folks in the US do now. I checked the results of data on Japanese real estate going back to the 1950s, and I found that, with the exception of 1975, Japan home prices never had a losing year…

    Never that is, until the bubble burst and the bust followed with 17 straight years of pain.
    For example a guy in central Tokyo who borrowed $500,000 to buy an apartment still owes the full mortgage today, but his apartment has lost 80% of its value – $500,000+ mortgage and interest on a $100,000 apartment…

  13. Someone commented on Dec 2

    Remember, this is the same Greenspan that told us not too long ago that there is no housing bubble but also said this a couple years prior:

    “As events evolved, we recognized that, despite our suspicions, it was very difficult to definitively identify a bubble until after the fact–that is, when its bursting confirmed its existence.”
    -Alan Greenspan

  14. Teddy commented on Dec 2

    Japan failed to close down the bankrupt financial institutions like the US did vis a vis the Resolution Trust. So these numerous Japanese banks just sat there disfunctional, not making any loans, and causing the real estate market to sink further. This was very painful for so many of its citizens, but it increased the savings rate of the country, helped maintained its manufacturing base, and allowed Japan to sustain its trade and current account surpluses. England’s current account deficit is about 2% versus about 7% in the US, and unlike the US, they have huge foreign assets to equalize their external debts.

  15. DavidB commented on Dec 2

    ….and in the far corner……in the red trunks……we have the fed…….and the banking interests it works for. They are not going to let this mess go down without a fight. These were the same guys that said they were not above monetizing everything(including corporate bonds etc.) if necessary to stave of a stock market debacle in the 90’s(I think it was Bernanke himself who made the statement which is what earned him the title ‘helicopter Ben’).

    Unless the banking interests have plans to take all those mortgages on the books and make all those ‘owners’ renters then they are probably sitting in the backrooms right now figuring out a way they are going to dig ‘us’ out of this mess…..with fees that will create a hefty profit for themselves of course

  16. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on Dec 2

    “Fascinating stuff!” Indeed….! This is an affirmation of my own research thus, a slight conversion from theory to science. I agree whole heartedly that this housing slump will be drawn out over a period of years. However, I am also led to the conclusion that the consequences to the economy in general will be far more severe than those stated above.

    Best regards,


  17. wcw commented on Dec 2

    Japan? I am a housing bear, and the last thing I expect is that. The US experience with the RTC is just the beginning. Pick whatever data you like to measure prices, incomes, banking reserves, you name it. I doubt you can find any parallels beyond a period of sustained price increases. Moreover, the US puts a huge tax subsidy under owner-occupied housing. That alone should keep it from ever declining too much in nominal terms. 80%? Never say never, but I really, really doubt it.

    While I also do not believe the US property markets are likely to follow a UK-style rebound, it’s possible. The last time the US had a property market as extended as the current one was the late ’80s. That one kept on going for some time. Despite a slowing market and rising inventories, prices increased in line with incomes from ’87-’89, then finally cracked.

    I think Gundlach’s points indicate why I agree it’s probably not 1986. Housing will be a drag on production until inventories come into line with sales, and cash-out refinancing end with price rises and drags on consumption. Subprime lending standards have been too loose, and the various regulators have been issuing rules to tighten them. The likely result is a drawn-out adjustment in the housing market. No crash; housing moves slowly. Check nominal and real house prices and sales and construction employment and starts from ’90-’94 for a likely prelude.

    As for homebuilder puts, they are quite pricey. WCI’s will set you back 50% implied volatility. I don’t like paying up for vol unless I really feel I have an edge on timing, and don’t here.

  18. Tbone Snickens commented on Dec 2

    There is a rapidly growing glut of gas-oil supply in the US, and an even bigger and onrushing glut of global crude oil. Discounts from ~$5/bbl and ~$15/bbl for block trades in 100mmbbl lots, suggesting a lot of things. Probably need another “little war”, to paraphrase Commander Chen’ster.
    Them that reads history knows Iraq-Iran goes inverted.

  19. V L commented on Dec 2

    The US housing slump will probably not reach its bottom until 2010, if previous real estate cycles in the US are anything to rely on.

    I am not saying that house prices will drop by 80% like in Japan but the prices have only started to decline here in the US and we are not even near the bottom yet.

    I also will not be terribly surprised if we get something similar to what had happened in Japan only to a lesser extend.

    1. By 1989 Japanese property markets blossomed and land prices soared. Four-fifths of bank loans were reckoned to be related to land, which was often used as collateral.
    2. December 25th 1989, the BoJ decided to cool the party and raised interest rates.
    3. Land dealings dried up and prices started to decline
    4. For 4 years after, the optimism was high that asset values would pick up again and banks lend more to distressed borrowers in hopes that their land values will rebound
    5. In late 1994 two credit corps (like Freddie Mac in the US) had to be bailed out by the taxpayers
    6. By 1997 Japan’s financial system appeared to be on the edge of a meltdown when three medium sized long-term credit banks had to be injected with private and public capital.
    7. In Autumn of 1998 Long Term Credit Bank (LTCB), among the world’s biggest banks at that time with $240 billion of assets collapsed
    8. Etc ….

  20. Barry Ritholtz commented on Dec 2

    My original thesis — that Real Estate is more of an extended asset class that can correct 25 -35% than a full blown bubble — can be seen here: Don’t Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda

    So far, that details in that commentary seem to be holding up pretty well

  21. BDG123 commented on Dec 2

    Big Al is a little more savvy than given credit. I doubt that he’s as dumb as advertised on the perma bear blogs. No one really knows why he made that statement. I presume he’s still got a little Fed Chair in him and knows his comments can move markets negatively.

    But, if he was being straight up, he’s just a little early. We are still in the deniable phase.

    Mozillo is surely very smart but never underestimate being in the right place at the right time or an ability to take risk. As Bill Miller says in nearly every quarterly update he puts out, people are too averse to risk. Those who take prudent risks will always beat those with an IQ of Albert Einstein. Those who take prudent risks with an IQ of Albert Einstein should do frighteningly well. Were the first 10,000 Microsoft employees geniuses? Or Google’s first 1,000? Because they all have more money than anyone on this board, likely including the blog king himself Mr. BR.

    Mozillo has pretty much said the housing situation is going to get worse. He’s not a cheerleading dimwit like Lereah. Not only is it going to get worse, but his company will likely suffer as much or more than home builders. Homebuilders are moving higher because the short killers are trying to root out some additional returns. Not because the smart money thinks they are a good value. I’m quite confident of that based on the action in the stocks and other correlated stocks which aren’t moving along with the homebuilders. The housing boom is really more than five or six years old so it isn’t going to mend itself in something like six months. The last six years were simply mania.

    Japans’ situation is NOT the same as the US. It’s not even close. Japan’s biggest problem was not a mania in housing but the Friedman orchestrated dollar move. Not that it couldn’t get nearly as ugly here. No one really knows. But, that’s pretty extreme. The reality is that most people are looking at the U.S. but that the bubble is more severe globally as is the concern over savings rates as is credit creation. So, while everyone squawks that the US is going down the shitter, the reality is, this is still the safest place to put your money regardless of where you live on the globe.

  22. teresa boardman commented on Dec 2

    Not sure I would call it a housing bust, but no it is not over. it is about demographics, which is the single biggest reason for the slow down. The Gen X bought forward and will not need to buy another home for several years. Gen Y is just about old enough to buy but they can not afford to. Boomers the biggest group around and are not moving so much as staying put. The market will not be has good as it has been in the recent past and we will have to adapt.

  23. Macro Man commented on Dec 2

    In 1989, Tokyo real estate was worth more than all of California real estate. In 1989, 100 year generation mortgages were available in Japan. In 1989, the Nikkei was also in the latter stages of a bubble. In 1989, real estate holdings formed a major part of the asset side of corproate and financial insitution balance sheets. In the early 90’s, BOJ governor Mieno tightened policy as the various asset bubbles collapsed. None of the first four is relevant to the US today; we’ll wait on the fifth.

    Having lived through housing market “bubbles” in other countries which have subsequently recovered, I am naturally sceptical that a country as large as the US can see anything like a nationwide housing crisis. Are there localized bubbles where people feel pain? Sure.

    But those markets do not represent the country as a whole. But in the latest Demographia housing affordability survey, 21 of the 24 most affordable housing markets in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand were in the US. Granted, 9 of the top 10 most expensive housing markets were also in the US.


    But this illustrates a key point. There is no ‘US housing market’, merely a series of regional markets. By focusing on the extremes (Florida, Vegas, etc.) , one can lose sight of what is like in the like of Buffalo and Indianapolis.

    I really do not know what will happen to the housing market. If I had to bet, I suspect that prices will flatline, inventory will get worked off, and a year from now prices will start edging slightly higher. That is based on my experience in other countries which, to my analysis, resemble the situation in the US.

    I wonder if some of the current hysteria over housing represents some degree of hangover from the equity bubble a few years ago…

  24. dblwyo commented on Dec 2

    In case anybody is interested Calculated Risk has a very nice summary of the optimists, of their analytical ‘challenges’ and clear graphical analysis of the real data as well as pointers to his priors on the impacts on the economy. If you find it fascinating stuff highly reccomended:

    It would seem to me with a 35% YTD rise in builder stocks that we’re in a momentum market building on it’s own energy but it’s flattening. Having thought this unlikely I missed it. And it looks like the optimists are catching it at the wrong time. If individual stocks don’t appeal what about puts or shorts on the ETFs ? For example IYR or somesuch ? Barry what do your techs tell you about that marketspace ? :).

    The question that’s not being put on the table is the lag structure of downturns in housing, construction employment and MEW. Which also means the rising risks to the economy, already widely accepted to be slowing, aren’t in the general discussion either.

    Times should be interesting. Think boaters call these small craft warnings and weather advisories.

  25. Teddy commented on Dec 2

    Japan’s stock and real estate mania were the result of the orchestrated dollar decline in 1987. Japan tried to counteract the Yen’s rise by selling Yen and buying every currency in the world, but especially US dollars, and then purchasing real estate worldwide. The problem was that they didn’t sterilize the money they created to accomplish this like they’re doing now and it resulting in hyperinflation of their stock and real estate markets. Presently, they are in much better position than the US because they are a creditor, not a debtor. In the long run, the debtor usually loses. Since 80% of American business depends on the consumer, I suspect every trick in the book being tried to make the real estate market rise from the dead. Three months ago,Congress examined Freddie and Fannie and declared “shoe-horn financing” is ok.

  26. Phil commented on Dec 2

    Just talked to a girl from Korea. A 3 bedroom Seoul appartment costs about 500 000 US Dollar. No comments on that.

    I also heard about Vietnamese house prices close to European house prices.

    Could anybody support data on China? I heard that it is up, but I think it is not as bad as Seoul, HoChiMin City or Hanoi. Taiwan (Taibei) is moderately unafordable. More or less 180 000 Dollars for a nice three bedroom appartment, other Taiwanese areas are a lot cheaper though.

  27. theroxylandr commented on Dec 2

    Trackback from this post

    referencing Big Picture:

    Greenspan is “out of his mind”
    Posted by theroxylandr under Economics , Money , Finance(edit this)

    I’ve just read at “BP” that Jeffrey Gundlach, a veteran fund manager, publicly called at the pages of Barron’s that Greenspan is “out of his mind”.

    What a spirit! I’m glad the understanding of Easy Al mental condition is finally reaching the respectable media. As I’m not a respectable media, I will say openly that Alan Greenspan is a stupid freaking idiot, absolutely talentless economist, a political hawk who made his way into major government position not through his talents (as he clearly lacks any), but through licking and kissing many important (mostly Republican) asses. He was the worst Fed chairman ever and a real shame.

    His famous cryptic language was helping him to produce the impression of his special capabilities, and that worked, as most people in WH and Congress are not that well financially educated. In fact, after careful decryption, his words were usually pretty trivial and his ideas not much outstanding above the level of thousands of other economists. Moreover, when he dared to make predictions of the future all, or almost all his predictions were questionable immediately and absolutely wrong later.

    I also should confess that so far my opinion of his successor, Uncle Ben, is rather positive. I’m not praising him, but you won’t find anything too bad about Bernanke searching back in my blog.

    What a mess Greenspan made!

  28. V L commented on Dec 2

    Japan had strong currency and they were able to cut rates. Because of the falling US dollar and still high inflation the Fed cannot cut rates. How can the Fed prevent our housing and financial sectors from collapsing if they cannot cut rates?
    Dropping cash from the helicopters?

  29. Si commented on Dec 3

    Not sure how comparisons with the UK apply here. I believe their problems in real estate are waiting for them. Sure they had a small wobble in the upward movement of prices but a bigger bust could well be on the way. The reason? The natural cyclical of markets. The cost of a very average house over there has going crazy. How it can be good for anyone is beyond me. It amuses me when houses go up 15-20 percent a year, which is a fantastic rate of return on any investment, stocks included. Then any faint cycle down is greeted with nashing of teeth and arm waiving. Bizarre world.

  30. JohnB commented on Dec 3

    It amazes me that people can see the same stats, but not agree on the meaning. You shouldn’t even have to think about it.

    Either a baseball player is hitting .400 or he isn’t. Either a full moon is out tonight, or it isn’t. Of course there was a bubble (in certain areas, California, Florida, Arizona).

    We’re in maybe the 3rd inning of this decline. Nobody has sworn off real estate. Donald Trumps is still teaching the masses about the wonders of real estate investing at the learning annex. That’s hardly a bottom.

    The pain will be a mirror image of the insanity at the top. Here in so cal, it took 3-4-5 years for the market to bottom in the 90’s. I think it’ll be at least until 2009/2010 before it bottoms out.

    Part of the problem with the media and these “experts” trouted out to comment on it is the lack of any critical thinking. If you’re long housing or if you’re tied to the govt, of course you’ll be biased. Asking Greenspan about housing is like asking George Steinbrenner to comment about the Yankees. Of course he’ll be optimistic.

  31. blam commented on Dec 3

    The cost of housing is different from the price of housing. AG created this mess with ultra-low mortgage rates in which the cost of high priced housing appeared affordable to the average bloke. The extent of deflation in housing depends on the path of interest rates. The decline in price and demand suggest that current interest rates are too high to support the current price levels. Perhaps, if interest rates stabilize here, prices will find support.

    However, the Fed created the bubble to invent construction industry jobs to provide a smokescreen for the job losses to low wage foreign competitors. Five years ago, there existed a reservoir of credit capacity. The republicans tapped this reserve, with the aid of a disengenuous Fed, to create a boom built on credit expansion. The reserve may not be completely tapped out, but it is much reduced.

    The loss in construction jobs has begun as has a pullback in borrowing for consumption. Even the fake numbers released to the public show an anemic current business climate. The slide into a slowdown is like catching the flu. It starts with a day or so of not feeling well before you really get sick.

    The affordability of housing and the extent of overbuilding will become more apparent if the economy picks up momentum on the down side. The Fed is holding interest rates steady for now. The speculators have counted on the “Fed put” and with good reason continue to believe that all we need are lower rates.

    The harvesting of the American credit reserve is now built into asset prices. The asset either has to spin off a stream of earnings or be sold to a bigger fool. The million dollar question for commodities, housing, and equities is : Do you feel lucky, punk. Has the Fed fired five or six shots. Come to think of it, in all the excitement, I can’t remember myself. ……..

  32. Chuck commented on Dec 3

    Macro Man said:
    >But this illustrates a key point. There is no ‘US housing market’, merely a series of regional markets.

    This always makes me laugh. No ear-to-the-ground.

    Since 2003, widespread use of exotic ‘balloon’ mortgages in every (every!) US Metropolitan area has allowed a number of buyers to pay (sic) higher and higher prices. Gee, they can’t make the fully-amortizing payment after reset and foreclose. So, we’ve had 3-4 years of “false pricing”. Ken Heebner of CGM discusses this neatly.

    Forget percentage declines, 2002 was the last year where prices reflected “amortization of the debt” in some sense.

    Can someone comment on what’ll happen to the “first-loss” positions in the mortgage securitizations? Will they be able to nimbly re-securitize?

  33. Macro Man commented on Dec 3

    OK, Chuck

    If the US is a single, homogeneous housing market, why don’t people who work in Palm Beach choose to live in Buffalo, where the housing is more affordable?

    Why has the rate of house price appreciation differed (substantially) city-to-city?

    I don’t think anyone disputes that there have been regional bubbles that are in the midst of popping. And yes, there are indubitably signs of distress from those who took out ARMS with rates at the lows.

    That’s helped get us to where we are now. But it remains the case that a healthy majority of the stock of mortgages are fixed rate, so most homeowners are immunized against interst rate rises. It doesn’t really make news when some guy from Akron or Pittsburgh says ‘my house was reasonably priced and I don’t have any trouble making payments.’

    This contrasts with the housing bust in the UK in the late 80’s, where affordability was stretched, the entire stock of mortgages was floating rate, and interest rates went up 7% from June 88 to October 89, thereby precipitating a real housing crash.

    Could things get worse in the US? Sure, I don’t dispute that. But to assume that the pain will be evenly distributed when the gain wasn’t doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.


    The BOJ hiked rates 175 bps in 10 months after the peak of the Nikkei and land prices and only cut rates 18 months after the peak, by which point the Nikkei had fallen by well more than a third. Somehow, I don’t think that Helicopter Ben will make the same mistake as Mr. Mieno, should push come to shove.

  34. brion commented on Dec 3

    “Somehow, I don’t think that Helicopter Ben will make the same mistake as Mr. Mieno, should push come to shove.”

    I wonder if events will conspire to take the decision out of Ben’s hands?

  35. Teddy commented on Dec 3

    It’s time for the people to stand up and say enough is enough. The use of the Laffer curve concept did not lead to unprecedented productivity growth, but rather concentration of wealth with its consequent lower interest rates to barely sustain the masses, loss of our manufacturing base, exponential growth in mcmansions, jaguars, rolls royces, and mercedes. We learned how to grow the economy nominally after the Great Depression and for most of the last 70 years, we’ve had nominal growth, even under extreme conditions as we have now. The only correlation between Laffer and the economy is an exploding trade and current account deficits

  36. besnook commented on Dec 3

    of course its absurd when greenspan, citibank BOA all come out with “the bottom is in” analysis on the housing market. the real estate market is normally regional but the bubble and its popping is nationwide this time. the only difference is severity. first, urban areas have to be viewed in isolation of the rural market. the bubble is almost exclusively an urban phenomenon. the next factor is taxes. taxes in the north east are much higher than any other part of the country so the bubble is not as big. the next factor is demographics. people are still moving from rural to urban areas and from the north to the south and west.people are moving out of california to the western states and oregon and washington. the mitigating factor is that more than 70%of households are owner occupied, more than 2% are empty and more than 15% were bought by investors(rent, second homes). the BIGGEST factor is affordability. in the last 2 years any bum could buy a house with all the foolish fancy financing schemes available but the fact remains income does not justify the price. one cannot buy a house in almost any urban area and expect a renter to pay enough to cover the nut. so rents have to go up which is unlikely because the market has actually contracted and more rental property is available or income has to go up which is unlikely to happen quick enough because the disparity(price/income) is so wide. this bubble is just hissing now. it will explode. one of the home builder ceos called it a death spiral.

  37. Larry Nusbaum commented on Dec 3

    I’m just thankful that the pending housing bubble is ahead of us, as it has been for 5+ years now, and not here right now. But, it’s coming.

  38. Charlie Stromeyer commented on Dec 3

    Macro Man, the Belgian economist Daniel Gros has discovered that European housing follows U.S. housing by an average of 18-24 months. He thinks this also applies to the U.K. and Australia, meaning that prices could go up some more over there but not for much longer:

  39. Charlie Stromeyer commented on Dec 3

    I once posted a comment in this blog about a ten year correlation between the stock market and homebuilders’ sentiment which Liz Ann Sonders at Charles Schwab had noticed. However, over the long term it is real consumer spending rather than the stock market which tracks builders’ sentiment as you can see in chart 21 of this letter from Gary Shilling:

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