Bubbles in South African House Prices and their Impact on Consumption
This paper tests for house price bubbles in the South African housing market, using quarterly data from 1969:Q2 to 2009:Q3, based on the unit root test developed by Phillips et al. 2010. This test allows us to detect whether a bubble exists or not, as well as the date of emergence and collapse of the same. Our findings show evidence of house price bubbles in the large, medium and small-middle segments, as well as, the aggregate middle-segment of the South African housing market. There is however, no evidence of bubbles in the luxury and affordable segments of the market. Next we estimate an Error Correction Model (ECM) to investigate the existence of spillover effects from the housing sector onto consumption. Results indicate significant spillovers, though there is no evidence of the effect being higher during the bubble period. Finally, we disentangle the effects of the house price acceleration and deceleration on consumption in an effort to investigate whether or not consumption reacts asymmetrically to movements in house prices. We find that consumption responds significantly to the house price deceleration but not to acceleration, with this effect also not showing any evidence of being higher during the identified bubble period. The fact that we do not observe consumption to be more responsive to house price acceleration (deceleration) during the bubble period is most likely due two reasons: First, the National Credit Act number 34 implemented in 2005, which enforced responsible granting and use of credit and prohibited reckless awarding of credits (NCA, 2006) and second, the findings of recent studies depicting evidence of pronounced discretionary changes by the South African Reserve Bank to counter the recent adverse movements in the financial markets.
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