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Contributions of economists to the housing-price bubble

  • Martha A. Starr

After the bursting of the housing-price bubble in 2006 and ensuing financial crisis, there has been much discussion of what economists could have done differently to help avert the crisis and "Great Recession" that followed. One dimension of this concerns information supplied by economists to the general public about causes of high appreciation in home prices and their likely future course, as good information could have helped the public hedge their finances against downside risks while bad information may have encouraged them to take on too much risk. This paper analyzes data from 24 California newspapers on assessments and predictions offered by economists as to whether bubbles were forming in the state's housing markets. In brief, we find that the California public was fairly decently served by economists offering their views via the media -- although with some significant problems of biased forecasts not made in good faith, and of inattention to concerns about "harm avoidance" that ought to apply when economists share their opinions in this way.

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File URL: http://american.edu/cas/economics/pdf/upload/2011-3.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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Paper provided by American University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2011-03.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2011-03
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.american.edu/cas/economics/

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  1. Clements,Michael & Hendry,David, 1998. "Forecasting Economic Time Series," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521634809, May.
  2. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Christopher L. Foote & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "Reasonable people did disagree : optimism and pessimism about the U.S. housing market before the crash," Public Policy Discussion Paper 10-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  3. Alan Blinder & Alan Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," Working Papers 875, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals, and Misperceptions," NBER Working Papers 11643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. D. COLANDER & al., 2010. "The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 6.
  6. Ehrbeck, Tilman & Waldmann, Robert, 1996. "Why Are Professional Forecasters Biased? Agency versus Behavioral Explanations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 21-40, February.
  7. Christopher D. Carroll, 2003. "Macroeconomic Expectations Of Households And Professional Forecasters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 269-298, February.
  8. Engelberg, Joseph & Manski, Charles F. & Williams, Jared, 2009. "Comparing the Point Predictions and Subjective Probability Distributions of Professional Forecasters," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27, pages 30-41.
  9. Marc T. Law & Sukkoo Kim, 2004. "Specialization and Regulation: The Rise of Professionals and the Emergence of Occupational Licensing Regulation," NBER Working Papers 10467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. V. Tambovtsev., 2009. "Financial Crisis and Economics," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 1.
  11. James Crotty, 2009. "Structural causes of the global financial crisis: a critical assessment of the 'new financial architecture'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 563-580, July.
  12. Masahiro Ashiya, 2009. "Strategic bias and professional affiliations of macroeconomic forecasters," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 120-130.
  13. Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2004. "Advising Policymakers Through the Media," IZA Discussion Papers 1001, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496, November.
  15. Jane Dokko & Brian Doyle & Michael T. Kiley & Jinill Kim & Shane Sherlund & Jae Sim & Skander Van den Heuvel, 2009. "Monetary policy and the housing bubble," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Gerald Epstein & Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth, 2010. "Financial Economists, Financial Interests and Dark Corners of the Meltdown: It’s Time to Set Ethical Standards for the Economics Profession," Working Papers wp239_revised, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  17. Jan Kregel, 2008. "Using Minsky's Cushions of Safety to Analyze the Crisis in the U. S. Subprime Mortgage Market," International Journal of Political Economy, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 37(1), pages 3-23, April.
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