Posted by: Dirk | September 1, 2016

Nowhere to grow? US house prices rally has ended.

fredgraphThe last US recession was caused by falling house prices and collapsing demand due to lack of investment as house construction stalled. Since then, house prices wobbled a bit between 2009 and 2012 and then went up. Since March 2016, however, house prices have stalled (see figure provided by FRED2). While the actual economic situation in the US seems to be roughly ok – some observers talk about full employment – the future might bring some unpleasant surprises. Industrial production increased in the last two months (FRED2) but that probably is just some seasonal variation (even though the series is seasonally adjusted, in the last few years the summer months seem to have done exceptionally well).

I don’t want to call a recession, but the economic growth model of the US has relied quite a lot on real estate (before the boom) and then the recovery of real estate. What if house prices stall now, with the interest rate basically at zero? Well, both presidential candidates have budget deficits in their respective programmes, so that there seems to be some way out of the next recession – when it comes.

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