House Prices Will Fall Because They Are Over-Valued

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Saturday, 03 July 2010 07:07

It is absolutely astounding that so many reporters at major news outlets apparently have not heard of the housing bubble. This is like people not knowing about the risk of war after the United States had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. Surely such people existed, but you would not have expected them to be writing at the New York Times.

The NYT has a lengthy article today discussing Illinois' severe budget problems in the context of the deficits hitting several large states. At one point, it tells readers:

"Should the largest struggling states — like California, New York or Illinois — lay off tens of thousands more in coming months, or default on payments, the reverberations could badly damage a weakened economy and push housing prices down still further."

House prices in these states have only partially corrected from their budget-inflated levels. They remains substantially above long-term trends. In all three states there are extraordinarily high ratios of price of house prices to rents. It is virtually certain that house prices will fall further regardless of how these states deal with their budget problems. (Interestingly, California is using hundreds of millions of dollars to temporarily prop up its house prices. Presumably, it will end these subsidies once its budget crunch gets too severe.)

At this point, reporters should be familiar with the housing bubble and know something about its general dynamic. Its collapse led to the largest downturn in 70 years. This is a big deal.