Archive for the Case-Shiller/S&P Index Category

The Marginal Utility of (House) Utilities: Only 1600 Square Feet! (October 25, 2010)

Posted in Case-Shiller/S&P Index, Housing, Less Government Regulation Series, Market Solutions on October 25, 2010 by

. . .

K         “In the near future, rather than marketing the total square feet, we will market a structure based on the average cost of utilities per square foot per year.  A person will pay more for a structure to get less because it has well-insulated but fewer square feet and lower fuel bills than another comparable structure.  ‘Natural gas bill:  only $14,700 per year!  And only 1600 square feet!’”

J          “A few individuals have noted that the market for houses won’t stabilize until the average price is more in line with the long run price measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices or another index of housing prices.  We are not there yet.”

K         “The average size of a new structure must be more in line with the average size in the past so that a family can afford the facility.  The government should not dictate the maximum size for a house; the market should determine the optimal size of the appropriate structure.  Single family homes may not even be the model home for the future.  Townhouses and more open space are more efficient and desirable to house the town.”

J          “The four horsemen of the housing apocalypse ride together – a bigger house means a bigger mortgage, a bigger tax bill, a bigger insurance bill and of course a bigger HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) bill to maintain the monster.  A smaller house means a smaller mortgage, a smaller tax bill, etc.”

K         “And fewer furnishings are needed to furnish it.  The government makes it too cheap to get into the beast.  Then the real costs devour the owner.”

J          “The Republicans and the Democrats and their corporate owners just won’t let the government get out of the housing business.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

Natural gas bill:  only $14,700 per year!  And only 1600 square feet!

Housing Revisited (June 22, 2009)

Posted in Case-Shiller/S&P Index, Depression, Economics, Greenspan, Housing, Recession on June 22, 2009 by

Four years have past, four summers, with . . . the housing market continuing to deteriorate.  The cover of the June 18 – 24, 2005 edition of “The Economist” depicts a falling brick with the words “House Prices” on it and leads with an article entitled “After the fall.”  The article and earlier articles in the magazine were prescient in warning about the explosive rise and pending collapse of house prices.  In conclusion, the article notes:

“Of course, by the time American prices begin to fall, probably sometime next year [2006], they will not be Mr. Greenspan’s headache.  He will have retired and someone else will be in his job.  If weaker house prices push the economy towards recession, the awkward truth is that America’s policymakers will have much less room to manoeuvre than they did after the stock market bubble burst.  Short-term interest rates of only 3% leave less scope for cuts.  In 2000, America had a budget surplus.  Today, it has a large deficit, ruling out big tax cuts.

The whole world economy is at risk.  The IMF has warned that, just as the upswing in house prices has been a global phenomenon, so any downturn is likely to be synchronized, and thus the effects of it will be shared widely.  The housing boom was fun while it lasted, but the biggest increase in wealth in history was largely an illusion.”

In the last few weeks, when someone applied for a building permit to construct a 12 by 16 foot shed, too many commentators were ready to proclaim the housing crash ended.  Few seem to realize that the housing market is just starting to crash.  The infection is now impacting families with reasonable fixed-rate 30-year mortgages and long-term ties to their communities who are losing their jobs and will soon lose their homes.

Until housing prices drop to at least the extrapolated historical levels of a bench mark such as the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the decline in prices will continue.  The Federal Funds Rate is zero which eliminates the primary tool to shape economic events.  The Fed is creating other gimmicks to stimulate the economy that are unwise, unwarranted and unfounded in law.  More later.

Bumper stickers of the week:

Still pushing hard on a string

Everything that goes down does not necessarily go up