“Home is the nicest word there is.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books, which inspired the famed television show, “Little House on the Prairie”



The United States real estate marketplace played a significant role in the worldwide economic disaster that erupted in mid-2007 and accelerated in 2008. That dreadful time and its consequences probably are not a distant memory within the perspectives of key central bankers and at least some politicians. Otherwise, the Federal Reserve Board, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, and other monetary gatekeepers would not have sustained various highly accommodative schemes for over seven years. Though international growth resumed around mid-2009, it generally has been erratic and modest. Despite unwavering devotion to their mandates, these sheriffs thus far have not delivered sufficient inflation relative to benchmarks such as the consumer price index. Although headline unemployment measures have plummeted in the United States, they remain fairly high in some nations.

The United States of course is not the whole world and American consumers do not represent the country’s entire economy. Yet because the US is a crucial player in the interconnected global economic (and political) theater, and because US consumer spending represents a majority of US GDP, the state of affairs for the US consumer has international consequences. Consumers represent about 68.3 percent of America’s GDP (2015 personal consumption expenditures relative to GDP; Federal Reserve Board, “Flow of Funds”, Z.1; 6/9/16). The household balance sheet level and trend (net worth) is an important variable in this scene. Although stock marketplace and real estate values matter a great deal to others (such as corporations and governments) beyond the “person on the street”, they are quite important to US household net worth and thus behavior (including spending patterns) and expectations (hopes) regarding the future.

Thus although US household net worth is not an explicit part of the Federal Reserve’s interpretation of its mandate (promoting maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates) and related policy actions, it is very relevant to them. So therefore are stock marketplace and real estate values and trends. Home ownership is an important dimension of the ideology of the American Dream. Rising home and increasing stock marketplace prices to some extent bolster faith that the American Dream “in general” (as a whole) is succeeding. And what happens to American real estate still matters a great deal for the global economy.

Sustained yield repression and quantitative easing (money printing) by the Fed and its playmates not only have helped the S+P 500 and many other stock signposts to soar through the roof. These programs (assisted to some extent by deficit spending programs) also repaired much of the damage to America’s real estate landscape. Let’s survey the US real estate marketplace in this context, concentrating primarily on the consumer housing sector.


The dutiful Fed reviews assorted factors related to personal consumption expenditure (consumer price) inflation and other aspects of its mandate. Consumer price or personal consumption expenditure inflation targets of around two percent matter to the Fed and other central bank sheriffs. Yet sufficient (too low; too high) inflation (as well as deflation) can occur in other realms, including stocks and real estate.

Combine the monumental recovery in US real estate values with the towering rise in the value of stock marketplace assets. Although these are not the only parts of or phenomena influencing the US household balance sheet, current real estate and stock marketplace (particularly note the S+P 500) levels and trends appear more than adequate to justify a less accommodative Fed monetary policy. And US housing trends (including the rental situation) probably are placing substantial upward pressure on key consumer price benchmarks.

Recall the glorious American real estate spectacle before the mournful crash of the worldwide economic disaster. Although that Goldilocks Era for US real estate belongs to the past, the current housing situation recalls it.

The dovish Fed nevertheless will be cautious regarding boosts in the Federal Funds rate. Like other members of the global establishment (elites), it does not want populists (whether left wing or right wing; such as Donald Trump) to win power. To some extent, sustained substantial slumps in stocks and real estate prices tend to encourage populist enthusiasm. The Fed and its allies battle to avoid a sharp downturn in the S+P 500 or housing prices. The Fed meets 9/20-21, 11/1-2, and 12/13-14/16. The US Election Day is November 8. See “‘Populism’ and Central Banks” (7/12/16) and “Ticking Clocks: US Financial Marketplaces” (8/8/16).

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW to download this article as a PDF file.
Games People Play- American Real Estate (8-28-16)