The fallacy of a pain-free path to a healthy housing market
In the mid-1990s, the public policy goal of increasing the U.S. homeownership rate collided with a huge leap in financial innovation. Lenders shifted from originating and holding mortgages to originating and packaging them for sale to investors. These new financial products enabled millions of Americans who hadn’t previously qualified to buy a home to become owners. Housing construction boomed, reaching a postwar high—9.1 million homes were built between 2002 and 2006, a period when 5.6 million U.S. households were formed. ; The resulting oversupply of homes presents policymakers with a formidable challenge as they struggle to craft a sustainable economic recovery. Usually a driver of economic recoveries, the housing market is foundering as an engine of growth. ; Generations of policymakers since the 1930s have sought to increase the homeownership rate. By the late 1960s, it had reached 64.3 percent of households, remaining there through the mid-1990s, in apparent equilibrium with household formation during a period of sustained U.S. economic growth. A fresh push to increase ownership drove the rate up 5 percentage points to its peak in the mid-2000s. Home price gains followed the rate upward.
Volume (Year): 5 (2010)
Issue (Month): dec ()
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