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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:05

Some folks have pointed out to me that the housing cost calculator that David Leonhardt has in the Upshot section of the NYT looks a lot like the one that CEPR developed years ago to try to warn people about the housing bubble. Yes, it does, and if memory serves me correctly David had asked me about it when he originally designed another version a few years back. Anyhow, glad to see the idea has caught on.

Comments (7)Add Comment
Tilted calculator
written by Danny, May 22, 2014 8:47
The default positions on the NYT calculator assume that housing prices will rise faster than rents or inflation indefinitely. That contradicts basic supply and demand, but it does make buying look more attractive than it would otherwise.
written by medgeek, May 22, 2014 8:47
Here's hoping they start reporting budget numbers in percentage terms more consistently, rather than raw numbers.
Not exactly imitation...
written by David Maynard, May 22, 2014 9:15
...but I thought you'd appreciate this Chrome app developed by the FT, https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ft-newshack-2013-hack-per/mkapnibcmicgaanlenahhafgidjgkbpe/related

It provides context for any big number in an online article. Usually the context isn't really germane (e.g., $1B is roughly equivalent to the government debt of the Seychelles), but it's a start.
Welcome back!
written by PeonInChief, May 22, 2014 10:36
The NYT calculator was always better, though, than the realtor sites calculators. Those were amazing.
written by Dave, May 22, 2014 4:42
I think the calculator most people used was at Bankrate.com.

It is a very popular site. I know an editor there.

Did they know of the housing bubble? Yes indeed, they did. In fact, it was my editor friend at Bankrate.com that made me aware of it for the first time in 2003.

Did I believe him given his information? Yes I did. 2003.

How many people knew this was an unsustainable bubble? Most. Some just won't admit it.

written by Benjie Hiller, May 23, 2014 8:11
It seems that both calculators measure cost, but don't appear to consider the equity that gets built up if one buys the property. Am I missing something?
As simple as a citation!
written by Chris E., May 24, 2014 1:01
A lot of great ideas originate from CEPR. But it is common decency to cite or reference this! At www.lostoutputclock.com there are a couple links to Dean and CEPR (in referencing methodology and just as a recommended source) from appreciation for providing inspiration and data :)

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.