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A Nation Of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation And American History

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  • 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; under-priced 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," NBER Working Papers 18825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18825 Note: EFG
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. repec:eee:jfinec:v:126:y:2017:i:1:p:147-170 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser & Charles G. Nathanson, 2014. "Housing Bubbles," NBER Working Papers 20426, 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. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Edward L. Glaeser & Charles G. Nathanson, 2015. "An Extrapolative Model of House Price Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 21037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Eric Zwick & Charles Nathanson & Anthony DeFusco, 2017. "Speculative Dynamics of Prices and Volume," 2017 Meeting Papers 239, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. 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.
    14. Glaeser, Edward L. & Nathanson, Charles G., 2015. "Housing Bubbles," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    15. Charles Nathanson & Edward Glaeser, 2015. "An Extrapolative Model of House Price Dynamics," 2015 Meeting Papers 1108, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Diego A. Salzman & Remco C.J. Zwinkels, 2013. "Behavioural Real Estate," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-088/IV/DSF58, Tinbergen Institute.
    17. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General

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