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Contributions of economists to the housing-price bubble

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  • Martha A. Starr

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Martha A. Starr, 2011. "Contributions of economists to the housing-price bubble," Working Papers 2011-03, American University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2011-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Author-Name: Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(1), pages 327-397.
    8. Clements,Michael & Hendry,David, 1998. "Forecasting Economic Time Series," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521632423.
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    15. 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.
    16. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Economists did see the bubble coming
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-04-27 19:39:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Martha A. Starr, 2014. "Qualitative And Mixed-Methods Research In Economics: Surprising Growth, Promising Future," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 238-264, April.
    2. Paolo Ramazzotti, 2013. "Shared economic thought and the neglect of social costs. Why progressive economists often stick to conventional wisdom," Working Papers 71-2013, Macerata University, Department of Finance and Economic Sciences, revised Dec 2015.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    JEL classification: R21; D31; D12; E32;

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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