Sunday, August 21, 2005

The warnings about a real estate bubble are no longer at the fringe of the debate. Here's yet another good article from the New York Times.

Today, nine years after his lunch with Mr. Greenspan and five years after the markets finally did crash, Mr. Shiller is sounding the same warning for real estate that he did for stocks. In speeches, in television and radio interviews and in a second edition of his prophetic 2000 book, "Irrational Exuberance," he is arguing that the housing craze is another bubble destined to end badly, just as every other real-estate boom on record has.

These, in short, are his second 15 minutes of gloom. He predicts that prices could fall 40 percent in inflation-adjusted terms over the next generation and that the end of the bubble will probably cause a recession at some point.

I wonder exactly when it will happen - and I wonder if it will be big enough to affect our freedom of action in Iraq. Last and possibly least, I wonder if we can find any clues in the blogosphere that some of the experts might not have noticed yet.

This is the closest I've come yet, from Colorado Luis:

The states with more homes in foreclosure were Texas, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia, all of which, I would point out, are larger than Colorado.

I'm old enough to remember the last time we had a rash of foreclosures around here -- back in the '80s when a cascade of foreclosures dragged down housing values for years and a glut of HUD homes sat decaying on some of the same blocks that are now nicely spruced up and gentrified. The problem, of course, is that the foreclosure sale homes drag market prices down, and people who are counting on prices going up get stuck, then go into foreclosure, which repeats the vicious cycle. In that regard, it is scary that 54% of home loans in the Boulder-Longmont market and 50% of home loans in Denver are interest only loans that will require the buyers to refinance in the next few years. If the appraisals don't match up with the amounts outstanding on those loans, look out.

Yeah, a general drop might help a few people who can't afford to buy homes now get in the market, but the collateral damage could be severe.

I've searched for Chinese blogs here and elsewhere, if the Chinese government has a plan for after the USA real estate market collapses and damages their dollar holdings and puts a dent in their USA exports either it's not rumored in the streets or bloggers don't talk about it. And yes, I paid special attention to the blogs banned in China.

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