Some days I get some very nice messages from readers, other days I don’t. Friday was one of those “other” days. An excerpt from my inbox after a run through the abuse filter.
When will you renter losers just accept that you are wrong and that housing isn’t going to crash. I am sick of people like you constantly talking about a “bubble” in housing trying to cause a crash. You were wrong, you missed the boat and are now jealous of others success. You and your doomsayers have been telling everyone that housing is about to crash for years yet guess what, it never happens and it never will because the government will not let it happen. Do yourself a favour, buy a house and stop whining.
I have always found it odd how overly passionate people are about housing in comparison to other economic topics. I also find it amusing that people’s assumptions about my own personal circumstances lead them to wrong conclusions about me. But that is another story for another time.
The thing that I take away from these e-mails ( yes, this is not the first one ) is the strong belief these people seem to hold that you couldn’t possibly want to discuss the downside risks of house prices or the potential risks of property speculation unless you would in some way have personal gain from doing so. My assumption is that this breed of human only think about housing in terms of personal gain and therefore do not have broader understanding of the risks and issues housing creates for the economy and social well-being of Australian society.
All of the members of this blog talk constantly about the systemic risks caused by the massive credit binge into housing that Australia has created for itself. In my opinion it is a massive macro-economic blunder that has wasted the best opportunity for economic prosperity that Australia has had in the last century. I am still very doubtful that the economy can correct itself out of this mess without falling in a heap. I get the feeling that the nation will collectively be sitting around in ten years time looking back saying to itself “what the hell were we thinking”. This issue is something I personally have talked about at length , but I know that my fellow bloggers share the same frustrations.
But there is also another side to this, something that isn’t economic. It is a social issue that until quite recently has been below many people’s radars. It has been festering for years but I get the feeling it is going to become a big political problem over the course of this year as the housing market slides and the government is forced to make a decision about what to do about it. Let it go or intervene yet again.
There has been a long running debate about the “real” cost of housing and how today’s price to income ratio compares with history. I am not going to rehash the discussion as it is well known. But from my personal view point I don’t really have time for any debate on the issue. I have my own life experience to know that houses are far more expensive today in real terms than they were even 15 years ago, and due to this I have real empathy for young people who have massive societal pressure to purchase houses. I am not sure it is appreciated by older generations just how much pressure there is on a young person in Australia to purchase property. But nearly every week I receive at least one e-mail from a reader that is just like this example.
Thank you for the good work on your blog, and keep it up. I discovered Delusional Economics in about August last year. I had been under some pressure from family and friends to buy a house for about a year, but whenever I looked at the numbers it didn’t seem to make any sense. I began to feel like the rest of the Australia was taking crazy pills in regards to real estate. However the implications of claiming to be the only sane person in a room full of lunatics were not lost on me. It was certainly a relief to find some considered contrarian analysis on the topic from yourselves and Lewellen-Smith, van Onselen etc. to back up the opinion I had formed about our housing markets. Particularly as I’m an engineer, its good to see some trained economists saying some of this stuff!I’ve since been using your blog to help make my arguments against buying real estate to family and friends, and have had some considerable success in persuading them of the risks. Please keep it up!
I am getting the distinct feeling that things are starting to change. The fact that this article made it past the editor’s desk and into print is another good first step. It may well be that there is much more support for housing policy changes than Saul and the government realises. Something that is set to continue as the younger generations become more and more political active about these policies and their inequitable effects.