Department of Numbers

Sunday January 27, 2013

Housing inventory trajectory for 2013.

I forgot to point out this post by Calculated Risk earlier this week. He's using my housing inventory data to chart the trajectory of listings coming online this year. Inventory has come way down over the past couple of years and the big question is whether this winter will mark a bottom. If a lot of homes go on the market this spring, it probably indicates a bottom.

Thursday January 24, 2013

Steve Randy Waldman: I think the behavior of real interest rates is the empirical fingerprint of the effect of inequality on demand.

Where the missing demand comes from:

Household borrowing represents, in a very direct sense, a redistribution of purchasing power from savers to borrowers. So if we worry that oversaving by the rich may lead to an insufficiency of purchases [by poorer households], household borrowing is a natural place to look for a remedy. Sure enough, we find that beginning in the early 1980s, household borrowing began a secular rise that continued until the financial crisis.

Why that's a problem:

Suppose that the mechanism that reconciles inequality and adequate demand is household borrowing. Is that sustainable? After all, poorer households would have to borrow new purchasing power in every period in order to support demand for as long as inequality remains high.

How it messes with the role of banks in the economy:

We very explicitly ask banks to intermediate the deficit in demand, exhorting them to lend lend lend for macroeconomic reasons that are indifferent to microeconomic evaluations of solvency. We can have a banking system that performs the information work of credit analysis and lends appropriately, or we can have a banking system that overcomes deficiencies in demand. We cannot have both when great volumes of lending are continually required for structural reasons.

The elegance and insight density of this post is off the charts!

Saturday January 5, 2013

The Trillion dollar coin solution would work despite how silly it sounds. It's more likely that it'd be a bunch of million dollar coins though.

The problem with having the US Mint produce a single, one-trillion-dollar platinum coin so Timothy Geithner can deposit it at the Federal Reserve is that it seems plain ridiculous. Yes, much of the commentariat believes that the debt ceiling itself is ridiculous, but two colliding ridiculousses don't make a serious.

Great quote.