Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Sense Regarding the Housing Market

It is about time someone talks honestly about the economy. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney commented about the housing market and foreclosure:
One is, don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up. Let it turn around and come back up. The Obama Administration has slow-walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.

Number two, the credit [that] was given to first time homebuyers was insufficient and inadequate to turn around the housing market. I think it was an ineffective idea. It was a little bit like the cash-for-clunkers program, throwing government money at something which was not market-oriented, did not staunch the decline in home values anymore than it encouraged the auto industry to take off.
The Journal went on to say:
How's that for refreshing? After five years of politicians trying without success to postpone disclosures and levitate the housing market, Mr. Romney dared to tell the truth. Parts of the U.S., including Nevada, still have too many homes, and that supply needs to be sold off and fixed up so the market can find a bottom before home prices can start to rise again. The faster that process proceeds, the faster the recovery will take hold.
While the personal plight of many individual Americans is heart-wrenching on the personal level, meddling in the housing markets is the sort of disastrous policy that helped push the economy to its current state. Why can so many correctly criticize the bailout of big banks, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers, but not realize a bailout of Main Street is just as dangerous? The government's expressed desire to "prop-up" or "boost" the ailing housing markets are simply other terms for "create a new bubble."

By distorting incentives the government encourages individuals and institutions to incorrectly calculate risk. Inevitably, this will lead to sub-optimal outcomes. As difficult as it may be to watch the nefarious outcome of poor risk management, it is sometimes better for all to simply do nothing. The government not only does not have the ability or resources to "help" everyone, but it creates awful drags on the economy, as current policies have demonstrated, and breed future problems when it foolishly tries to become a superhero.

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