Friday, November 28, 2008

How much will housing prices fall?

I found this graph here. It sure seems to indicate that some housing markets will be in decline for some time to come. Real estate prices tend to correct at a much slower rate than say stock or commodities. This doesn't mean that all real estate prices are falling (Buffalo's are rising).

The question is, will the politicians allow the market to correct and face a short, sharp recession or will they try to prop up prices and keep the country in a long period of stagnation? My guess is the later. We are a society that tries to avoid pain at all costs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's the forecast with Obama and experimentation?

The economy looks as bleak as I have ever seen since the 1970's. Consumer spending seems to have fallen off precipitously. I looks like the government hasn't got a clue as to what to do. Treasury Secretary Paulson sold Congress on a $700 billion bill to purchase toxic assets (TARP). However, Paulson changed his mind and forced large banks to give some of their equity to the US government in the largest nationalization in our history. The markets have predictably reacted by dropping some more.

Last Sunday night on "Sixty Minutes" President-elect Obama indicated that we was going to follow FDR's model of experimenting with the economy. However, what Obama does not seem to understand is that the markets do not like experimentation. Uncertainty creates volatility. Here's a useful chart of stock market volatility during the last century.

Many Democrats idolize FDR as a saviour but the facts show that if anything, he made the economy worse. Now the electorate has put all their faith in a new Saviour who promises to repeat the mistakes of history.