Filipa Sá, 15 May 2018

There is growing concern among households and policymakers alike that house prices in England and Wales are being driven up by foreign buyers making investment purchases. Filipa Sá examines the link between foreign investment and house prices, using local authority data over a span of 15 years. This video was recorded at the 2018 RES annual conference.

Jonathan Portes, 06 April 2018

Much public and policy concern has focused on the distributional impacts of immigration – in particular, potential negative impacts on employment and wages for low-skilled workers. This column summarises evidence and draws conclusions from the now considerable literature on the impact of migration to the UK on the economy and labour market, including the potential economic impacts of Brexit-induced reductions in migration.

Irina Stanga, Razvan Vlahu, Jakob de Haan, 15 March 2018

Mortgage delinquency triggered the liquidity crisis that turned into the Global Crisis. Ten years on, mortgage lending still accounts for a large share of both household debt and banks’ assets. This column examines the incidence of mortgage arrears using a dataset for 26 countries from 2000 to 2014. The results show that higher unemployment is associated with an increase in defaults, while higher house prices have a strong negative association with defaults. The analysis suggests that dealing effectively with mortgage default requires a mix of prudential regulation and institutional design improvements.

Pieter Gautier, Arjen Siegmann, Aico van Vuuren, 27 February 2018

In 2005, flat-fee real estate brokers entered the Dutch housing market, charging a substantially lower up-front fee than the average traditional brokers’ fee based on sale price. This column uses house sale data to demonstrate that flat-fee agents sell properties faster, and at an average price that is 2.7% higher than traditional agents. This suggests that the profits of traditional brokers are at least partly driven by rents, rather than performance.

David Miles, 07 February 2018

Over recent decades houses have become increasingly expensive in the UK, leading to what is routinely described as a ‘housing crisis’. This column assesses whether, over the long term, the UK experience is so unusual and explores the underlying forces at work. Two key elasticities and one technological factor are highlighted as being central to the story and will determine what happens over the next 50 years.

Wouter den Haan, Martin Ellison, Ethan Ilzetzki, Michael McMahon, Ricardo Reis, 28 November 2017

The usually buoyant London housing market is currently the weakest performing market in the UK. A majority of leading economists think that the phenomenon of declining prices will ripple out from London to the rest of the UK, according to the latest Centre for Macroeconomics and CEPR survey. Asked whether a widespread weakening of the housing market will slow GDP growth significantly, the experts are more divided. Several point to uncertainty about the eventual Brexit outcome making it very difficult to engage in predictions about house prices and growth; others suggest that lower house prices could be a good thing for the UK economy, especially for young people.

David Autor, Christopher Palmer, Parag Pathak, 16 November 2017

Separating cause from effect is notoriously difficult when it comes to gentrification and neighbourhood amenities, including public safety. This column exploits the sudden ending of a rent control regime in Cambridge, MA to examine whether and by how much gentrification affects crime. In the years immediately following the end of rent control, crime fell significantly more in neighbourhoods that had been heavily rent controlled. But those neighbourhoods also saw the highest turnover in occupants, suggesting that incumbent renters in these areas were priced out of their properties and thus missed out on the benefits from gentrification.

Alejandro Justiniano, Giorgio Primiceri, Andrea Tambalotti, 31 October 2017

The US witnessed an unprecedented boom in mortgage debt and house prices in the early 2000s, which precipitated the crisis in 2007. This column documents a sudden, large and persistent fall in the spread of mortgage over Treasury rates in the summer of 2003. It argues that the emergence of this ‘conundrum’ marked a crucial turning point in the dynamics of the boom, with the resulting easier credit conditions in the subprime market in particular leading to the origination of mortgages that defaulted progressively more frequently down the road.

Marta Auricchio, Emanuele Ciani, Alberto Dalmazzo, Guido de Blasio, 01 September 2017

The nature of the relationship between public and private employment is ambiguous, with studies showing that increased public employment can have both crowding-in and crowding-out effects on private employment. This column explores this relationship across Italian municipalities. It finds evidence of strong crowding-out effects across municipalities, which is partially explained by increased competition in the housing market.

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.

David Miles, 21 November 2016

WIll average house prices rise further relative to average income? In this video, David Miles argues it could be sustainable under plausible economic conditions. This video was recorded at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis in October 2016.

Fredrik Andersson, Lars Jonung, 30 May 2016

The volume of credit to Swedish households has grown twice as fast as incomes since the mid-1990s. This has resulted in both rising house prices and rising household debt. This column argues that these trends expose Sweden to important economic vulnerabilities. Curbing these vulnerabilities will require prompt action by the authorities.

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. 

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.

Christian Hilber, Wouter Vermeulen, 10 April 2016

It costs a relatively large amount of money to buy a house in the UK – something readers from the UK will almost certainly agree with. But economists differ over why this is. This column argues that strict planning regulations are a prime culprit for sky-high prices and that without any real regulatory change, it is the young that will suffer.

Giovanni Favara, Mariassunta Giannetti, 24 April 2015

During financial crises, fire sales (or forced asset sales) could further aggravate the financial fragility. However, evidence on why agents do not take actions to avoid collateral liquidation is scant. This column uses data on foreclosures and house prices from the US housing crisis to present new evidence on the issue. The authors argue that lenders with a large share of outstanding mortgages internalise the negative spillovers of liquidation. Thus, they might be more likely to renegotiate and avoid price-default spirals. 

Alejandro Justiniano, Giorgio Primiceri, Andrea Tambalotti, 27 February 2015

There is no consensus among economists on the forces that drove the historical rise of US house prices and household debt that preceded the Global Crisis. In this column, the authors argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit. This rise was brought about by the diffusion of securitisation and shadow banking, and by a surge in foreign capital inflows. The finding is based on a straightforward interpretation of four key macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006, provided by a simple general equilibrium model of housing and credit. 

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.

Katharina Knoll, Moritz Schularick, Thomas Steger, 01 November 2014

House price fluctuations take centre stage in recent macroeconomic debates, but little is known about their long-run evolution. This column presents new house price indices for 14 advanced economies since 1870. Real house prices display a pronounced hockey-stick pattern over the past 140 years. They stayed constant from the 19th to the mid-20th century, but rose strongly in the second half of the 20th century. Sharply increasing land prices, not construction costs, were the key driver of this trend.

Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle, Étienne Wasmer, 30 June 2014

Thomas Piketty’s claim that the ratio of capital to national income is approaching 19th-century levels has fuelled the debate over inequality. This column argues that Piketty’s claim rests on the recent increase in the price of housing. Other forms of capital are, relative to income, at much lower levels than they were a century ago. Moreover, it is rents – not house prices – that should matter for the dynamics of wealth inequality, and rents have been stable as a proportion of national income in many countries.



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