Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Odd Thought, and a Prediction . . .

Odd Thought--
How has U.S. government policy gotten to the point where the objective is to stabilize house prices and thereby protect the equity of homeowners and the value of securities collateralized by mortgages? I understand the political pressure to do this, but isn't it ass backwards?
Government policy should be promoting affordable housing and low housing prices. Appreciation in home values should be recognized as an undesirable drag on the general economy. Perhaps gains on the sale of residences should be taxed at a higher rate, rather than exempted from taxation, to control unwanted appreciation? Rather than relying on the escalator of building equity through leveraged appreciation, people wanting to grow their net worth should refrain from consumption to generate savings, then invest those savings productively.
The transition may be awful, but the thought is intriguing.

The way in which the limits of federal borrowing power will be manifest is in increasing funding costs. Qualitative easing will enhance the ability of central banks to control the yield curve further out, but in the end, the substitution of sovereign credit for the discredited AAA collateralized structures will have a boundary. An inflation tax will be the way out of the box. Combined with a devaluation of the dollar against some, but not all, currencies. Not sure when the refunding crisis will hit. I'd guess in about a year or so.

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