Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From ownership society to a nation of renters

A crucial sector of the world's biggest economy remains resistant to revival - - the U.S. housing market.  The Financial Times covered the issue today in Streets Behind.  Some of the numbers and trends are truly troubling.  Consider the following:
  • Some 20% of homeowners are either unable or unwilling to make their mortgage payments - - the remaining 80% in turned have seen their prices driven lower.  Pareto is probably at work - - 80% of the problem is in 20% of the system.  And 51% of us need to agree on a mechanism to fix 20% of a system or 100% basically suffer the consequences.
  • In 2004, home ownership was at a record 69.4% - - stripping out delinquent borrowers (who are already basically renters) - - the current ownership rate might be in the 60% range.
  • The actual ownership rate could drop to 61% in the next three years - - the rate has not been below 62% since 1960.  In the context of home ownership - - we are moving toward rates seen 50 years ago.  Your iPad is about tomorrow - - while the roof over your head is increasingly about yesterday.
  • Count on another 10.4 million borrowers defaulting in the coming years.
The beginning of the rentership society is upon us.  Charles Dickens turns 200 in February 2012 - - it might be a good time to brush up on the classics by the master of the intersection of economics and social structure.

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