Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Housing Bubble to Deflate;
Recession to Follow

That's the prognostication of economist Ed Leamer:

In Leamer’s view, the housing market appears to have peaked “in California and elsewhere. It will take more than a year for this weakness to turn into job losses and to affect the economy in general.”

And, yes, he’s using the “R” word. As in “recession.”

Leamer lays the blame squarely on the Federal Reserve for leaving interest rates too low for too long. Now, he says, we’re not only heading for trouble in the housing sector, but in the auto industry — another market that got drunk on historically low rates.

Low borrowing costs accelerated future sales by enticing consumers to trade up to bigger homes and new vehicles sooner than they might have done otherwise. Instead of waiting to buy a new family car in a couple of years, folks said, “Oh, what the heck. Financing is so cheap we might as well get it today.” As a result, car dealers lose the sale they would have gotten two years from now.

As rates creep higher, consumers happily driving their new cars or living in their larger homes have no motivation to purchase additional ones. Since consumer spending drives two-thirds of our economy, when consumers close their wallets, the impact is far-reaching.
Thanks to MA for the pointers. Also see Calculated Risk.
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