IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v103y2013i3p1-42.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History

Author

Listed:
  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

The great housing convulsion that buffeted America between 2000 and 2010 has historical precedents, from the frontier land boom of the 1790s to the skyscraper craze of the 1920s. But this time was different. There was far less real uncertainty about fundamental economic and geographic trends, making the convulsion even more puzzling. During historic and recent booms, sensible models could justify high prices on the basis of seemingly reasonable projections about stable or growing prices. The recurring error appears to be a failure to anticipate the impact that elastic supply will eventually have on prices, whether for cotton in Alabama in 1820 or land in Las Vegas in 2006. Buyers don't appear to be irrational but rather cognitively limited investors who work with simple heuristic models, instead of a comprehensive general equilibrium framework. Low interest rates rarely seem to drive price growth; underpriced default options are a more common contributor to high prices. The primary cost of booms has not typically been overbuilding, but rather the financial chaos that accompanies housing downturns.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 1-42, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:1-42
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.1
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.3.1
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/ds/may2013/P2013_7000_ds.zip
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Jackson, Jerry R., 1979. "Intraurban variation in the price of housing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 464-479, October.
    3. Wagner, Alfred, 1891. "Marshall's Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5, pages 319-338.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Gyourko, Joseph & Saiz, Albert, 2008. "Housing supply and housing bubbles," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 198-217, September.
    5. Jason Barr, 2010. "Skyscrapers and the Skyline: Manhattan, 1895-2004," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 567-597.
    6. Farley Grubb, 2009. "Land Policy: Founding Choices and Outcomes, 1781-1802," NBER Working Papers 15028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    8. Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "You can take it with you: Proposition 13 tax benefits, residential mobility, and willingness to pay for housing amenities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 661-673, October.
    9. Rousseau, Peter L., 2002. "Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, And The Panic Of 1837," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 457-488, June.
    10. Graves, Philip E., 1980. "Migration and climate," MPRA Paper 19916, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Alston Lee J. & Grove Wayne A. & Wheelock David C., 1994. "Why Do Banks Fail? Evidence from the 1920s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 409-431, October.
    12. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2002. "The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800–1940," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(04), pages 929-966, December.
    13. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Ellwood, David T, 1979. "An Empirical Reconciliation of Micro and Grouped Estimates of the Demand for Housing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 199-205, May.
    14. Robert J Shiller, 2008. "Historic Turning Points in Real Estate," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 1-13, Winter.
    15. A. E. Holmans, 1964. "The Derived Demand Curve Fora Productive Factor And The Industry Supply Curve," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 235-261.
    16. Field, Alexander James, 1992. "Uncontrolled Land Development and the Duration of the Depression in the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 785-805, December.
    17. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-1278, December.
    18. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
    19. James Poterba, 2004. "Taxation and Corporate Payout Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 171-175, May.
    20. Albert Saiz, 2003. "Room in the Kitchen for the Melting Pot: Immigration and Rental Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 502-521, August.
    21. Harley, C. Knick, 1978. "Western Settlement and the Price of Wheat, 1872–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 865-878, December.
    22. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805.
    23. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    24. Harding, John P. & Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Sirmans, C.F., 2007. "Depreciation of housing capital, maintenance, and house price inflation: Estimates from a repeat sales model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 193-217, March.
    25. Herbert J Gans, 1969. "Planning for people, not buildings," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 1(1), pages 33-46, January.
    26. Officer, Lawrence H., 1983. "Dollar-Sterling Mint Parity and Exchange Rates, 1791–1834," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(03), pages 579-616, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Nathanson, Charles G., 2015. "Housing Bubbles," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Daniele Bianchi & Massimo Guidolin & Francesco Ravazzolo, 2013. "Dissecting the 2007-2009 real estate market bust: systematic pricing correction or just a housing fad?," Working Paper 2013/22, Norges Bank.
    3. Flor, Michael A. & Klarl, Torben, 2017. "On the cyclicity of regional house prices: New evidence for U.S. metropolitan statistical areas," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 134-156.
    4. Charles Nathanson & Edward Glaeser, 2015. "An Extrapolative Model of House Price Dynamics," 2015 Meeting Papers 1108, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser & Charles G. Nathanson, 2015. "An Extrapolative Model of House Price Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 21037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Glaeser, Edward L. & Nathanson, Charles G., 2015. "An Extrapolative Model of House Price Dynamics," Working Paper Series rwp15-012, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. Kishor, N. Kundan & Morley, James, 2015. "What factors drive the price–rent ratio for the housing market? A modified present-value analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 235-249.
    8. Carlos J. Perez & Manuel Santos, 2017. "On the Dynamics of Speculation in a Model of Bubbles and Manias," Working Papers 2017-02, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    9. Jackson, Kristoffer, 2016. "Do land use regulations stifle residential development? Evidence from California cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 45-56.
    10. Diego A. Salzman & Remco C.J. Zwinkels, 2013. "Behavioural Real Estate," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-088/IV/DSF58, Tinbergen Institute.
    11. Edward L. Glaeser & Charles G. Nathanson, 2014. "Housing Bubbles," NBER Working Papers 20426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. S. Avouyi-Dovi & C. Labonne & R. Lecat & S. Ray, 2017. "Insight from a Time-Varying VAR Model with Stochastic Volatility of the French Housing and Credit Markets," Working papers 620, Banque de France.
    13. Avouyi-Dovi, S. & Labonne, C. & Lecat, R., 2014. "The housing market: the impact of macroprudential measures in France," Financial Stability Review, Banque de France, issue 18, pages 195-206, April.
    14. Eric Zwick & Charles Nathanson & Anthony DeFusco, 2017. "Speculative Dynamics of Prices and Volume," 2017 Meeting Papers 239, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. repec:eee:jfinec:v:126:y:2017:i:1:p:147-170 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Yang Hu & Les Oxley, 2016. "Bubbles in US Regional House Prices: Evidence from House Price/Income Ratios at the State Level," Working Papers in Economics 16/06, University of Waikato.
    17. Anthony A. DeFusco & Charles G. Nathanson & Eric Zwick, 2017. "Speculative Dynamics of Prices and Volume," NBER Working Papers 23449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:1-42. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.