Roy Van der Weide, Christoph Lakner, Elena Ianchovichina, 16 February 2018

Sebastian Galiani, 12 January 2018

Òscar Jordà, Katharina Knoll, Dmitry Kuvshinov, Moritz Schularick, Alan Taylor, 02 January 2018

The rate of return on capital plays a pivotal role in shaping current macroeconomic debates. This column presents findings from a new dataset covering returns of major asset classes in the advanced economies over the last 150 years. The data offer new insights on several long-standing puzzles in economics, and uncover new relationships that seem at odds with some fundamental economic tenets. 

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Daniel McMillen, 04 November 2017

Cities around the world are experiencing unprecedented vertical growth, but there has been little study of the economics of tall buildings. This column summarises novel evidence on the determinants of the urban height profile and the cost of building tall, and derives implications for urban theory and policy. In contrast to standard urban economics models, there is a role for the supply side in determining horizontal land use patterns. Vertical expansion is unlikely to resolve affordability problems in growing cities.

Shang-Jin Wei, 01 November 2017

Could the housing prices in China crash? In this video, Shang-Jin Wei explains whiat are the potential concerns, and how the Chinese government could mitigate them. This video was recorded at the "10 years after the crisis" conference held in London, on 22 September 2017.

Stefania Albanesi, Giacomo De Giorgi, Jaromir Nosal, 03 October 2017

The Global Crisis narrative has suggested that an expansion of subprime credit was the reason for rising mortgage defaults, leading to the large-scale recession in 2007-09. Taking a closer look at the characteristics of subprime credit holders over the period, this column argues that the growth in mortgage defaults did not occur predominantly amongst subprime credit holders. Instead, it was real estate investors that played a critical role in the rise in mortgage debt, specifically among the middle and the top of the credit score distribution.

Mojmir Hampl, Tomas Havranek, 12 September 2017

Seven out of every ten Europeans live in their own homes, yet Europe’s most important inflation measure excludes the costs associated with owner-occupied housing. This column argues that including the costs of home ownership would prove beneficial to the conduct of monetary and macroprudential policy. It would also bring the measure closer to what most people consider inflation to be.

Stéphane Bonhomme, Laura Hospido, 04 September 2017

The link between the rise in unemployment and the housing market in the US during the Great Recession is well documented. This column shows that in the case of Spain, the rise and fall in demand for construction workers following developments within the housing market had a big impact earnings inequality as well as employment. While there has been no apparent trend in the recent evolution of earnings inequality in Spain, countercyclical fluctuations have been substantial, with the construction sector playing a key role in this.

Filipa Sá, 04 January 2017

One of the factors driving house price growth in many countries is foreign investor demand. Using new UK data, this column argues that foreign investment has had a significant positive effect on house price growth in the last 15 years. The effect is not limited to expensive homes but ‘trickles down’ to less expensive properties, and is stronger where housing supply is less elastic. Foreign investment is also found to reduce the rate of home ownership, but there is no evidence of an effect on the housing stock or share of vacant homes.

Olympia Bover, Jose Maria Casado, Sónia Costa, Philip Du Caju, Yvonne McCarthy, Eva Sierminska, Panagiota Tzamourani, Ernesto Villanueva, Tibor Zavadil, 08 November 2016

Household micro-data reveal striking differences in secured debt holdings across Eurozone countries. This column presents new evidence on the role of household characteristics and country institutions in accounting for the cross-country patterns observed. In countries with lengthier asset repossession periods, young or low-income households face higher borrowing costs, leading to a lower probability of holding mortgages.

Gianni La Cava, 07 October 2016

The rising share of income accruing to housing is a key feature of the changing US income distribution. This column examines the determinants of this phenomenon. The rise occurred due to an increasing share of income accruing to owner-occupiers through imputed rent, it is concentrated in states that are constrained in terms of new housing supply, and it is closely associated with the long-run decline in real interest rates and inflation.

Ivan Lopez Cruz, Sebastian Galiani, Gustavo Torrens, 24 May 2016

A large empirical literature has revealed the effects of preventative and punitive measures on crime. This column examines the effects of police deployment strategies, comparing geographically concentrated protection with evenly dispersed protection across a city. The results suggests that when considering changes in the geographic distribution of police forces, we should take into account the effects on house prices and on reallocation of the population, as well as the overall effect on crime in the entire city. 

Richard Blundell, Rowena Crawford, Eric French, Gemma Tetlow, 11 May 2016

Housing forms a large share of household wealth in many nations. Using comparable data for the US and England, this column argues that the nature of housing as an asset – its utility value, illiquidity, and mix of risk and returns – is an important factor in explaining the trajectory of wealth in retirement. 

Thomas Hintermaier, Winfried Koeniger, 09 January 2016

Crises of confidence turn booms into busts. Bloated household balance sheets and high debt offer the right ingredients for a confidence-driven housing bust. This column develops an analytic framework that accommodates the potential role of confidence fluctuations as a source of uncertainty in the economy. Current debt levels are shown to determine the exposure to crises of confidence. The results point to a clear role for macroprudential policy in the prevention of such crises. 

Liwa Rachel Ngai, Kevin Sheedy, 06 October 2015

The housing market is important for many developed economies, not least in the UK. This column presents new research in search and matching modelling suggesting that the quality of a house-buying match is important in understanding not only the time taken to sell a house, but also the length of time homeowners will live in the new house before their next move. The research should provide economists with new insights into housing market dynamics.

Sumit Agarwal, Gene Amromin, Souphala Chomsisengphet, Tomasz Piskorski, Amit Seru, Vincent Yao, 01 October 2015

Mortgage refinancing is one of the main ways households can benefit from a decline in the cost of credit. This column uses the US Government’s Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) as a laboratory to examine the government’s ability to impact refinancing activity and spur household consumption. The results suggest that less creditworthy borrowers significantly increase their spending following refinancing. The authors provide comprehensive evidence that competitive frictions in intermediation sector prevented a large number of such eligible borrowers from benefiting from the programme. To the extent that such borrowers have the largest marginal propensity to consume, allowing them to refinance under the programme could increase overall consumption and alleviate uneven economic outcomes across the country.

Nicola Borri, Pietro Reichlin, 07 September 2015

Some argue that the increasing wealth-to-income ratios observed in many advanced economies are determined by housing and capital gains. This column considers the growing wealth-to-income ratio in an economy where capital and labour are used in two sectors: construction and manufacturing. If productivity in manufacturing grows faster than in construction – a ‘housing cost disease’ – it has adverse effects on social welfare. Concretely, the higher the appreciation of the value of housing, the lower the welfare benefit of a rising labour efficiency in manufacturing.

Kenneth Kuttner, Ilhyock Shim, 13 June 2015

The housing market, almost everywhere, is a major source of financial instability. This column presents research suggesting that certain types of macroprudential policy may well be useful additions to the policy toolbox, but that the evidence is far from definitive. Despite promising signs, it would be unwise to rely solely on macroprudential policies for taming financial booms and busts.

Espen Moen, Plamen Nenov, Florian Sniekers, 15 February 2015

Search frictions are important for understanding the housing market volatility. This column shows not only that the optimal order of buying and selling depends on housing market conditions but that it also affects these conditions. This feedback leads to multiple equilibria and to fluctuations in transaction volume, average time on market, and house prices.

Charles Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 03 November 2014

There has been a long-term downward trend in labour’s share of national income, depressing both demand and inflation, and thus prompting ever more expansionary monetary policies. This column argues that, while understandable in a short-term business cycle context, this has exacerbated longer-term trends, increasing inequality and financial distortions. Perhaps the most fundamental problem has been over-reliance on debt finance. The authors propose policies to raise the share of equity finance in housing markets; such reforms could be extended to other sectors of the economy.