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The Housing Boom and Bust: Revised Edition (Anglais) Broché – 23 février 2010

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Scary headlines and scarier statistics tell the story of a financial crisis on a scale not seen in decades—certainly not within the lifetime of most Americans. Moreover, this is a worldwide financial crisis. Financial institutions on both sides of the Atlantic have either collapsed or have been saved from collapse by government bailouts, as a result of buying securities based on American housing values that eroded or evaporated.

Now completely revised in paperback, The Housing Boom and Bust is designed to unravel the tangled threads of that story. It also attempts to determine whether what is being done to deal with the problem is more likely to make things better or worse.

Biographie de l'auteur

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst, and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals and in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, and Fortune, and he writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Format: Relié
The global economic crisis that started in the late 2008 is considered to be one of the worst ones in decades, perhaps the worst one since the Great Depression. It has started in the United States, but its ramifications have been felt globally, reminding us once again that we live in a very interconnected world. The source of the crisis seems to be rather obscure, and involves many hard to understand factors. Indeed, there is no single effect that can be blamed for the entire crisis, but one factor looms much larger than all the other ones, and that is the housing boom and bust. This, in a nutshell, is the basic premise behind Thomas Sowell's latest book. He describes and analyzes how the overregulated housing markets in a very few regions in the United States, coupled with the governmentally imposed quotas for the wider availability of housing loans, skewed the housing market and prevented the simple market mechanism from operating and correcting the ensuing market imbalances. Far from being caused by the lack of regulation of the banking sector, the crisis was brewing for years, decades even, and was caused exactly by the presence of too much regulation in one of the biggest parts of the overall economy. The bottom line is: the crisis was caused by the faulty politics, not the faulty economics. Not taking home this fundamental lesson has very dire consequences. The same people who lobbied and pushed for the legislation that has brought us to the current situation are the ones who are now leading the charge for its fixing. Predictably, the proposed solutions are along the lines of the policies that brought us to the current crisis. This is probably prolong the crisis and have unforeseen consequences in the years to come.Lire la suite ›
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0xa1742504) étoiles sur 5 174 commentaires
223 internautes sur 236 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0xa172fb10) étoiles sur 5 Excellent, Excellent, Excellent, Excellent - 18 mai 2009
Par Loyd Eskildson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The current housing and economic crises are fertile grounds for slanted and one-sided accounts. Sowell's "The Housing Boom and Bust" has none of that - it's an honest accounting of how we all participated. Lenders, government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, builders, local government regulations, local homeowners, government regulators (HUD and bank authorities), the Congress, and presidents each played a part. Both parties were involved, though the Democrats involved outnumber the Republicans.

Sowell begins with an accounting of how housing prices across the U.S. diverged from their relatively low prices of the early 1970s, especially along the California coast. The "standard" for housing expenditures used to be about 25% of gross income - this recently grew to as high as 60% in some areas (eg. Salinas, California).

Sowell contends that a major cause for California's rapid rise, beginning in the 1970s, was land restrictions that set aside areas for "open space," "protecting the environment," "historical preservation," etc. (The population increase during that period was almost equal to the national increase rate.) He cites an international study of urban areas around the world that found 23 of 26 areas with the highest land-price increases had strong "smart-growth" policies. Minimum lot-size laws also raise land costs of building a house - here, he points to Houston (incomes rose faster there than in the nation overall, but also lacks zoning laws) and a Coldwell Banker estimate that homes there costing $155,000 would cost over $1 million in San Jose.

Sowell goes on to point out that first-time buyers are limited in their ability to provide a large down-payment - averaging less than $30,000, vs. over $100,000 for repeat buyers. Meanwhile, housing prices began to escalate (the extreme was probably March, 2005 in San Mateo County where they rose $2,000/day), and houses moved rapidly (median time a home was on the MLS in California was less than 2 weeks in 2004, and just over that in 2005).

But, I'm getting ahead of things. Prior to the rapid escalation of home prices, federal bank regulators began using the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to press for racial equality. The issue was the statistical difference in approval rates, not a claim that most blacks could not get mortgage loans. New regulations required that the banks not just look for qualified buyers, but make a requisite number of loans to low and moderate income buyers (quotas). Then, when legislation was proposed in 1999 to permit banks to diversify into selling investment securities, the Clinton White House urged "banks given unsatisfactory ratings under the CRA be prohibited from enjoying the new diversification privileges." The Congress happily obliged. Another factor was HUD's beginning legal action in 1993 against mortgage bankers that declined a higher percentage of minority applicants. HUD also set a 42% target for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (FM & FM) to buy mortgages for people whose income were less than an area's median. Banks, sensing that FM & FM were implicitly guaranteed, where only too happy to not only issue these mortgages, but to buy FM & FM debt as well. (In 2003, about 3,000 banks held FM & FM debt for 100% of their capital requirements.) The "icing" was FM & FM's creative accounting that misclassified $11 trillion of sub-prime assets. Then in 2002, Bush II urged Congress to pass the American Dream Down Payment Act, subsidizing down payments of prospective buyers with incomes below a certain level.

Sowell has now set the stage, and readers have no problem understanding what happened. Interest-only teaser rate ARMs rose to counter rising prices and down-payments. By 2005, interest-only mortgages had risen to 31% of all new mortgages, up from less than 10% in 2002. In Denver, Seattle, and Phoenix it was 40%, and 66% in the S.F. Bay area. Speculators jumped into the fray (28% in 2005, 22% in 2006) adding further fuel to the fire, and happy homeowners took out $1.13 trillion in home equity loans in 2007. However, the storm on the horizon was the rise of interest rates to avoid inflation (1% in 2004, to 5.25% in 2006), making monthly payments more expensive and reducing the demand and prices for housing, and everyone takes a loss - including the banks (about $40,000 per foreclosed house), and especially speculators, minorities, and those with ARMs and interest-only loans. (Interesting Note: As of October, 2008, 7% of Bank of America's mortgages were CRA lendings, and 24% of its defaults.) Bailing out FM & FM, with their sub-prime laden inventories, cost the government more than that for all the private banks put together.

Sowell also has no problems believing that many sub-prime loans were foisted upon unaware and uninformed buyers by predatory lenders - especially involving contracts for repairs or remodeling on credit.

Bottom Line: The law of unintended consequences strikes again - helping minorities was a good intention, but backfired. We're all to blame, though admittedly some more than others. Deregulation was not the problem, rather misguided regulation. Further, the economy is not likely to reach former levels for a LONG time, lacking the frenzy the rapidly rising home prices brought to consumer buying.
206 internautes sur 222 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0xa17efee8) étoiles sur 5 A Must Read to Whoever's Interested in the Facts of this Subject 5 mai 2009
Par CT - Publié sur
Format: Relié
A must read to all of us who are interested in the housing boom and bust, which led to the current financial crisis. Thomas Sowell is not taking side in this book, but rather presenting the facts, the cast of characters, and the policies made that had contributed to the collapse of the housing prices and financial institutions. This book contains large quantity of data, which Dr. Sowell had eloquently presented to a lay-person like me. After reading this book, I cannot help but imagine the consequences that would entail if similar cast of characters and policies were to be made on the nation's health care. This book should go hand in hand with Dr. Sowell's "thinking beyond stage one" message presented in his "Applied Economics" book. It is time to get ourselves educated and refute the rhetoric from the media and politicians who are only interested in getting elected into office.
28 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0xa17ef4b0) étoiles sur 5 Should Be Required Reading for Every American 27 mai 2009
Par L. Young - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This superb analysis of the causes of the current financial crisis should be required reading for every American who considers himself well informed. In a straightforward style, economist Sowell lays out step by step how we find ourselves in today's economic collapse including, governmental restrictive land use policies which led to skyrocketing prices for houses in certain select areas of the country, political pressure on banks to lend to those who could not normally qualify for mortgages, the press for 'creative' financing in order to ensure a policy of affordable housing for all, real estate speculation, 'creative' accounting practices and the failure of credit rating agencies to assess the risk of subprime backed securities.

The frightening part is that those in government who put the practices into place that led to the economy collapsing like a house of cards are still in power and running things in Congress, and the new administration sees the crisis as an excuse to implement policies that will have far reaching effects on the future of this country.

If there is one flaw in the book I would have liked Sowell to go into detail about the use of subprime backed securities that caused toxic assests to infiltrate every aspect of our economy and the economy of the world.
100 internautes sur 112 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0xa17c80f0) étoiles sur 5 The Definitive explanation of our current financial crisis 16 mai 2009
Par Jay W. Richards - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem

Thomas Sowell has done it again. Using his inimitable clarity, he analyzes just went wrong with the housing market, and how it contributed to a cascading, international financial crisis. The short answer? Government attempts to "create affordable housing" for lower income Americans. Who could oppose that goal? Unfortunately, the goal bore no relation to the actual consequences of the policies. A series of decisions over a number of years led to a degrading of eligibility standards on mortgages. This not only created a housing bubble. It filled the financial system with extremely risky, and unsustainable, financing schemes that would never have existed if the federal government had not attempted to manipulate the market in the first place.

The book is remarkably timely. Sowell applies his analysis to the current "stimulus" plan, and suggests that the Obama administration is using the crisis "to fundamentally and enduringly change the institutions of American society." Sound harsh? Here's what President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said just before the President took office: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.... What I mean by that is that it's an opportunity to do things you could not do before." Indeed.

Jay W. Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0xa17c8288) étoiles sur 5 Sowell Nails it Again 20 mai 2009
Par HVeinott - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book debunks the idea that the housing boom and bust are the result of the "free market" failing. Sowell explores various ways that government policy created incentives for people to behave in ways which contributed to the crash. For example, the creation of Fannie and Freddie lead to more loans being made available at riskier terms than would have taken place in a free market. The Community Reinvestment Act, HUD, and other government programs and policies sought to expand home ownership to more and more of the population. Land use restrictions and environmental policy drove up home prices in many major cities, contributing to the need for nonconventional means of financing home purchases. As usual, Sowell does a fantastic job analyzing government policies not just on their stated goals, but by looking at the long term unintended consequences they produce in the country as a whole. This book is definitely worth a read to better understand the economic mess we are in.
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