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Housing wealth isn't wealth

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

A fall in house prices due to a change in fundamental value redistributes wealth from those long housing (for whom the fundamental value of the house they own exceeds the present discounted value of their planned future consumption of housing services) to those short housing. In a closed economy representative agent model (the special case when the birth rate is zero, of the Yaari-Blanchard OLG model used in the paper), there is no pure wealth effect on consumption from a change in house prices if this represents a change in their fundamental value. When the birth rate is positive, higher fundamental house prices driven by the housing demand of future generations will boost current consumption. There is a pure wealth effect on consumption from a change in house prices even in the representative agent model, if this reflects a change in the speculative bubble component of house prices. Two other channels through which a fall in house prices can affect aggregate consumption are (1) redistribution effects if the marginal propensity to spend out of wealth differs between those long housing (the old, say) and those short housing (the young, say) and (2) collateral or credit effects due to the collateralisability of housing wealth and the non-collateralisability of human wealth. A decline in house prices reduces the scope for mortgage equity withdrawal. For given sequences of future after-tax labour income and interest rates, a fall in house prices will then depress consumption in the short run while boosting it in the long run. --

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its journal Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Volume (Year): 4 (2010)
Issue (Month): 22 ()
Pages: 1-29

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201022

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Keywords: Wealth effect; house prices; speculative bubbles;

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References

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  1. Iacoviello, Matteo, 2004. "Consumption, House Prices and Collateral Constraints: A Structural Econometric Analysis," 2004 Meeting Papers 207b, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Amir E. Khandani & Andrew W. Lo & Robert C. Merton, 2009. "Systemic Risk and the Refinancing Ratchet Effect," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-023, Harvard Business School, revised Jul 2010.
  3. Carroll, Christopher D. & Otsuka, Misuzu & Slacalek, Jirka, 2006. "How large is the housing wealth effect? A new approach," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/35, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  4. Brayton, Flint & Levin, Andrew & Lyon, Ralph & Williams, John C., 1997. "The evolution of macro models at the Federal Reserve Board," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 43-81, December.
  5. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
  6. Vladimir Klyuev & Paul S. Mills, 2006. "Is Housing Wealth An 'ATM'? the Relationship Between Household Wealth, Home Equity withdrawal, and Saving Rates," IMF Working Papers 06/162, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Flint Brayton & Eileen Mauskopf & David Reifschneider & Peter Tinsley & John Williams, 1997. "The role of expectations in the FRB/US macroeconomic model," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Apr, pages 227-245.
  8. Buiter, Willem H & Pesenti, Paolo, 1990. "Rational Speculative Bubbles in an Exchange Rate Target Zone," CEPR Discussion Papers 479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Karl E. Case, John M. Quigley, Robert J. Shiller., 2001. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus The Housing Market," Economics Working Papers E01-308, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-24, January.
  11. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 2003. "Is There a Bubble in the Housing Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 299-362.
  12. F. Brayton & P. Tinsley, 1996. "A guide to FRB/US: a macroeconomic model of the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Edelstein, Robert H. & Lum, Sau Kim, 2004. "House prices, wealth effects, and the Singapore macroeconomy," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 342-367, December.
  14. Hurst, Erik & Stafford, Frank, 2004. "Home Is Where the Equity Is: Mortgage Refinancing and Household Consumption," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(6), pages 985-1014, December.
  15. Buiter, Willem H, 1988. "Death, Birth, Productivity Growth and Debt Neutrality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 279-93, June.
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