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Low Interest Rates and Housing Bubbles: Still No Smoking Gun

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Abstract

This paper revisits the relationship between interest rates and house prices. Surveying a number of recent studies and bringing to bear some new evidence on the question, this paper argues that in the data, the impact of interest rates on house prices appears to be quite modest. Specifically, the estimated effects are uniformly smaller than those implied by the conventional user cost theory of house prices, and they are too small to explain the previous decade's real estate boom in the U.S. and elsewhere. However in some countries, there does appear to have been a link between the rapid expansion of the monetary base and growth in house prices and housing credit.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Kuttner, 2012. "Low Interest Rates and Housing Bubbles: Still No Smoking Gun," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-01, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2012-01
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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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    6. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    7. Leonardo Gambacorta, 2009. "Monetary policy and the risk-taking channel," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
    8. Marek Jarocinski & Frank Smets, 2008. "House prices and the stance of monetary policy," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 339-366.
    9. Charles Goodhart & Boris Hofmann, 2008. "House prices, money, credit, and the macroeconomy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 180-205, spring.
    10. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb & Joseph Gyourko, 2012. "Can Cheap Credit Explain the Housing Boom?," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 301-359 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Carmen M. Reinhart and Vincent R. Reinhart, 2011. "Limits of Monetary Policy in Theory and Practice," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 31(3), pages 427-439, Fall.
    12. Vasso Ioannidou & Steven Ongena & José-Luis Peydró, 2015. "Monetary Policy, Risk-Taking, and Pricing: Evidence from a Quasi-Natural Experiment," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 19(1), pages 95-144.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guay Lim & Sarantis Tsiaplias, 2016. "Non-Linearities in the Relationship between House Prices and Interest Rates: Implications for Monetary Policy," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n02, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Punzi, Maria Teresa, 2016. "Financial cycles and co-movements between the real economy, finance and asset price dynamics in large-scale crises," FinMaP-Working Papers 61, Collaborative EU Project FinMaP - Financial Distortions and Macroeconomic Performance: Expectations, Constraints and Interaction of Agents.
    3. Hideaki Hirata & M. Ayhan Kose & Christopher Otrok & Marco E Terrones, 2013. "Global House Price Fluctuations: Synchronization and Determinants," NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 119-166.
    4. repec:iae:iaewps:wp2016n2 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gregory Bauer, 2014. "International House Price Cycles, Monetary Policy and Risk Premiums," Staff Working Papers 14-54, Bank of Canada.
    6. Christophe Blot & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2017. "Does monetary policy generate asset price bubbles ?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/2geqol5jud8, Sciences Po.
    7. Jordà, Òscar & Schularick, Moritz & Taylor, Alan M., 2015. "Betting the house," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 2-18.
      • Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "Betting the House," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2014, pages 2-18 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:sgh:annals:i:47:y:2017:p:101-112 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Cesa-Bianchi, Ambrogio, 2013. "Housing cycles and macroeconomic fluctuations: A global perspective," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 215-238.
    10. John C Williams, 2016. "Measuring the effects of monetary policy on house prices and the economy," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Expanding the boundaries of monetary policy in Asia and the Pacific, volume 88, pages 7-16 Bank for International Settlements.
    11. Bindseil, Ulrich & Domnick, Clemens & Zeuner, Jörg, 2015. "Critique of accommodating central bank policies and the 'expropriation of the saver' - A review," Occasional Paper Series 161, European Central Bank.
    12. Svensson, Lars E O, 2013. "Some Lessons from Six Years of Practical Inflation Targeting," CEPR Discussion Papers 9756, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. repec:ecb:ecbops:2010161 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Pascal Towbin & Sebastian Weber, 2015. "Price Expectations and the U.S. Housing Boom," IMF Working Papers 15/182, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Paul Corrigan, 2017. "Terms-of-Trade and House Price Fluctuations: A Cross-Country Study," Staff Working Papers 17-1, Bank of Canada.
    16. Christophe Blot & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2018. "Monetary Policy and Asset Price Bubbles," EconomiX Working Papers 2018-5, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    17. Paul, Pascal, 2017. "The Time-Varying Effect of Monetary Policy on Asset Prices," Working Paper Series 2017-9, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised 02 Jan 2018.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes

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