Odran Bonnet, Guillaume Chapelle, Alain Trannoy, Étienne Wasmer, 16 March 2021

Housing wealth is now between two and four times as large as GDP in many Western economies. This column reintroduces land and housing structures to the theory of optimal taxation, and finds that first-best taxation is achieved through a property tax on land and requires no tax on capital. Even absent land taxes, one can tax land indirectly and reach a Ramsey second best still with no tax on capital and positive housing rent taxes in the steady state. 

Nicolas Woloszko, Orsetta Causa, 31 March 2020

Rising house prices are causing a housing affordability crisis in many countries, but at the same time they are increasing homeowners’ wealth. Governments are faced with the challenge to encourage households to build up housing wealth while also fostering access to good-quality affordable housing. This column shows that, across OECD countries, those countries with higher homeownership rates display much lower wealth inequality, but argues that encouraging homeownership will not help low- and middle-income families accumulate wealth and are likely to conflict with other important policy objectives.

Volker Grossmann, Thomas Steger, 09 May 2016

The ratio of wealth to income has increased substantially since WWII. Despite the key role of housing wealth in this process, an appropriate macroeconomic model that can explain recent history and assess the future is still lacking. This column presents a novel macroeconomic model designed to investigate the evolution of housing wealth in a growing economy with a fixed overall land supply. A key implication is that rising house and land prices are natural phenomena in a growing economy. Further, rising wealth-to-income ratios appear to be an important trigger for the long-term growth of the finance industry.

Charles Calomiris, William Miles, Stanley Longhofer, 06 July 2009

Economists have expressed fears over the macroeconomic consequences of falling home prices dragging down consumption in the US and other nations. This column says that housing values and consumption are indeed correlated, but once one takes into account the fact that housing price changes may be acting as a proxy for future expected income, the measured housing wealth effect, if it exists at all, is much smaller than popularly believed. That finding suggests that changes in housing wealth have little effect on consumption.

John Muellbauer, 20 July 2008

Recent empirical estimates of the housing wealth effect suggest that a UK recession will be hard to avoid. With the housing-wealth decline compounded by falling equity prices and inflation-eroded real incomes, a drop in consumption is in the offing. The US situation could be even worse.


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