Monday, June 25, 2007

Modigliani on Deflation and Housing

I have this old interview between Roach and Modigliani (from 2002) on my site. The grand old man has one or two things to say about housing:

While it may seem that way right now, I have my doubts. I am suspicious of those studies that find the wealth effect is larger from real estate than equities. Theory tells me it should actually be the opposite. That's because the house in part, produces a consumer good -- housing services, which we consume. When the value of the house I inhabit goes up, its implied rental value increases. But that does not significantly improve my spending power, because my imputed rent has gone up as much. Any wealth effect on individually-owned property must net out the consumption of the service we derive from living in our homes. Those adjustments need not be made for stock portfolios. It is possible that new refinancing instruments, such as home equity loans may have temporarily distorted this relationship. But I would view this as a one-time shift, not as a permanent realignment of the link between wealth and consumption.

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