IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedbpp/10-5.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reasonable people did disagree : optimism and pessimism about the U.S. housing market before the crash

Author

Listed:
  • Christopher L. Foote
  • Kristopher S. Gerardi
  • Paul S. Willen

Abstract

Understanding the evolution of real-time beliefs about house price appreciation is central to understanding the U.S. housing crisis. At the peak of the recent housing cycle, both borrowers and lenders appealed to optimistic house price forecasts to justify undertaking increasingly risky loans. Many observers have argued that these rosy forecasts ignored basic theoretical and empirical evidence that pointed to a massive overvaluation of housing and thus to an inevitable and severe price decline. We revisit the boom years and show that the economics profession provided little such countervailing evidence at the time. Many economists, skeptical that a bubble existed, attempted to justify the historic run-up in housing prices based on housing fundamentals. Other economists were more uncertain, pointing to some evidence of bubble-like behavior in certain regional housing markets. Even these more skeptical economists, however, refused to take a conclusive position on whether a bubble existed. The small number of economists who argued forcefully for a bubble often did so years before the housing market peak, and thus lost a fair amount of credibility, or they make arguments fundamentally at odds with the data even ex post. For example, some economists suggested that cities where new construction was limited by zoning regulations or geography were particularly \"bubble-prone,\" yet the data shows that the cities with the biggest gyrations in house prices were often those at the epicenter of the new construction boom. We conclude by arguing that economic theory provides little guidance as to what should be the \"correct\" level of asset prices -- including housing prices. Thus, while optimistic forecasts held by many market participants in 2005 turned out to be inaccurate, they were not ex ante unreasonable.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher L. Foote & Kristopher S. Gerardi & 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:10-5
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2010/ppdp1005.htm
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2010/ppdp1005.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    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. Christopher Foote & Kristopher Gerardi & Lorenz Goette & Paul Willen, 2010. "Reducing Foreclosures: No Easy Answers," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2009, Volume 24, pages 89-138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. John Krainer & Chishen Wei, 2004. "House prices and fundamental value," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue oct1.
    4. Margaret Hwang Smith & Gary Smith, 2006. "Bubble, Bubble, Where's the Housing Bubble?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(1), pages 1-68.
    5. Kristopher Gerardi & Andreas Lehnert & Shane M. Sherlund & Paul Willen, 2008. "Making Sense of the Subprime Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 69-159.
    6. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
    7. Dean Baker, 2002. "The Run-up in Home Prices: A Bubble," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(6), pages 93-119.
    8. Jonathan McCarthy & Richard Peach, 2004. "Are home prices the next \\"bubble\\"?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 1-17.
    9. Cabray L. Haines & Richard J. Rosen, 2007. "Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 31(Q I), pages 16-35.
    10. Morris A. Davis & Andreas Lehnert & Robert F. Martin, 2008. "The Rent‐Price Ratio For The Aggregate Stock Of Owner‐Occupied Housing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(2), pages 279-284, June.
    11. Reshmaan N. Hussam & David Porter & Vernon L. Smith, 2008. "Thar She Blows: Can Bubbles Be Rekindled with Experienced Subjects?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 924-937, June.
    12. Ernan Haruvy & Yaron Lahav & Charles N. Noussair, 2007. "Traders' Expectations in Asset Markets: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1901-1920, December.
    13. Smith, Vernon L & Suchanek, Gerry L & Williams, Arlington W, 1988. "Bubbles, Crashes, and Endogenous Expectations in Experimental Spot Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1119-1151, 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. Martha Starr, 2012. "Contributions of Economists to the Housing-Price Bubble," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 143-172.
    2. Chan, Sewin & Haughwout, Andrew & Tracy, Joseph, 2015. "How Mortgage Finance Affects the Urban Landscape," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 987-1045, Elsevier.
    3. Christopher L. Foote & Kristopher S. Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2012. "Why did so many people make so many ex post bad decisions? the causes of the foreclosure crisis," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Nathanson, Charles G., 2017. "An extrapolative model of house price dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 147-170.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Baltagi, Badi H. & Li, Jing, 2015. "Cointegration of matched home purchases and rental price indexes — Evidence from Singapore," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 80-88.
    2. Ryan Fox & Peter Tulip, 2014. "Is Housing Overvalued?," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2014-06, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    3. Jane Dokko & Brian M. Doyle & Michael T. Kiley & Jinill Kim & Shane Sherlund & Jae Sim & Skander Van Den Heuvel, 2011. "Monetary policy and the global housing bubble," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 26(66), pages 233-283, April.
    4. Waltl, Sofie R., 2018. "Estimating quantile-specific rental yields for residential housing in Sydney," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 204-225.
    5. repec:oup:ecpoli:v:26:y:2011:i:66:p:233-283 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Halim, Edward & Riyanto, Yohanes Eko & Roy, Nilanjan, 2016. "Price Dynamics and Consumption Smoothing in Experimental Asset Markets," MPRA Paper 71631, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2006. "Housing Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 12787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ciril Bosch-Rosa & Thomas Meissner & Antoni Bosch-Domènech, 2018. "Cognitive bubbles," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(1), pages 132-153, March.
    9. Huan Xie & Jipeng Zhang, 2016. "Bubbles and experience: An experiment with a steady inflow of new traders," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1349-1373, April.
    10. Timothy N. Cason & Anya Samek, 2015. "Learning through passive participation in asset market bubbles," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(2), pages 170-181, December.
    11. Mikhed, Vyacheslav & Zemcík, Petr, 2009. "Do house prices reflect fundamentals? Aggregate and panel data evidence," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 140-149, June.
    12. Biljana Davidovska Stojanova & Branimir Jovanovic & Maja Kadievska Vojnovic & Gani Ramadani & Magdalena Petrovska, 2008. "Real Estate Prices In The Republic Of Macedonia," Working Papers 2008-03, National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia.
    13. Stephen Cheung & Stefan Palan, 2012. "Two heads are less bubbly than one: team decision-making in an experimental asset market," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(3), pages 373-397, September.
    14. Ernan Haruvy & Charles N. Noussair & Owen Powell, 2014. "The Impact of Asset Repurchases and Issues in an Experimental Market," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 18(2), pages 681-713.
    15. Taylor Jaworski & Erik O. Kimbrough, 2016. "Bubbles, Crashes, And Endogenous Uncertainty In Linked Asset And Product Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 57, pages 155-176, February.
    16. Shi, Shuping, 2017. "Speculative bubbles or market fundamentals? An investigation of US regional housing markets," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 101-111.
    17. Konstantin Kholodilin, 2015. "Speculative Bubbles in Urban Housing Markets in Germany," ERSA conference papers ersa15p67, European Regional Science Association.
    18. Duca, John V. & Muellbauer, John & Murphy, Anthony, 2010. "Housing markets and the financial crisis of 2007-2009: Lessons for the future," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 203-217, December.
    19. Akiyama, Eizo & Hanaki, Nobuyuki & Ishikawa, Ryuichiro, 2014. "How do experienced traders respond to inflows of inexperienced traders? An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 1-18.
    20. Michael Kirchler & Jurgen Huber & Thomas Stockl, 2012. "Thar She Bursts: Reducing Confusion Reduces Bubbles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 865-883, April.
    21. Garner, Thesia I. & Verbrugge, Randal, 2009. "Reconciling user costs and rental equivalence: Evidence from the US consumer expenditure survey," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 172-192, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Housing - Prices;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:fip:fedbpp:10-5. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbbous.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.