"Sorry Greg, This Crisis Was Completely Predictable and Predicted
Gregory Mankiw uses his NYT column today to give us an explicit "who could have known?" about the economy crisis. He tells readers that: "fluctuations in economic activity are largely unpredictable."
No, this crisis was completely predictable. The problem was that the leading lights in the economics profession completely missed the boat and are now using their platforms to tell the public that it wasn't their fault.
The basic story was and is the housing bubble. How could they miss an $8 trillion housing bubble? What were they smoking?
We have a hundred year long trend, from 1895 to 1995, when nationwide house prices just track the overall rate of inflation. Suddenly in the mid-90s, coinciding with the stock bubble, house prices begin to hugely outpace inflation.
The run up in prices cannot be explained by any obvious shifts in the fundamentals of supply and demand. Furthermore there is no remotely corresponding increase in real rents. And, the vacancy rate for housing rises to record levels.
If economists could not see this bubble, then they should look for another line of work. Sorry, this fluctuation was entirely predictable. The people whose job responsibilities including recognizing a dangerous bubble like this one just blew it completely. It speaks volumes about the nature of the U.S. economy that almost all of those people still have their jobs, unlike the tens of millions of other workers who lost their jobs or can only work part-time because of the incompetence of the economists.
I think it's fair to criticize people for missing the housing bubble, but the appearance of Debt-Deflation might well have caught many intelligent people by surprise. It certainly caught William Gross by surprise. Posted by: Don the libertarian Democrat