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The Housing Bubble in 4 Easy Steps

09/27/2008Mark Thornton

1. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to as low as 1% so that after inflation we had negative interest rates.

2. As a result, mortgage rates fell to an all time low.

3. Low rates caused borrowing and lending to explode, particularly in real estate. For example, commercial banks more than doubled the amount of real-estate loans they made.

4. All these low interest loans had to be extended to people with worse credit ratings and this increased the demand for homes and other real-estate assets. It should not be surprising that home prices skyrocketed. Click on the link below to the Real Estate Roller Coaster:

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, mortgage-backed securities, and credit derivatives were simply the conduit that made all these bad loans and investments seem less risky than they really were. In this manner the Federal Reserve can fool the market, at least temporarily. In the end the market always reasserts itself.


Contact Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is the Peterson-Luddy Chair in Austrian Economics and a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute. He is the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows.