Monday, April 19, 2010

Housing Related

With the recent allegations of fraud leveled against a major financial firm, and the indications that financial instruments linked to home mortgages were involved, it seemed like a good time to list some resources related to housing and the financial crisis.

Please note any one of these resources is going to be incomplete. And even taken together, they don't present the full story. But they do represent some informative and, in at least one case entertaining, pieces for your use.

Let me start with this post by David Warsh at Warsh give his thoughts on a new book, Slapped by the Invisible Hand. While this is probably not the definitive exploration of the crisis, Warsh thinks this version offers much that has been missing in previous attempts.

Next are a couple of timelines of the crisis that might offer a chronological perspective, as well as help explain the interdependence of various sectors of the economy. The first is from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It is part of a larger resource section on their website, and is quite good. It even includes a downloadable .pdf.

The second is from The Council on Foreign Relations. It is more visually attractive, in my opinion. And it offers some other timelines as a way of augmenting the story.

Now we come to a couple of visual aids. This one is from Visualeconomics and is what led to this entire post. It's an interesting graphic representation of single family home sales from the mid-1960s to 2008.  By itself, the data does not mean a lot. How much of this is due to the Baby Boom generation coming of age and being able to afford a house; and how much is due to institutional changes in the economy? It's impossible to tell from the graph. But the trend is clear.

The other visual is something I've posted before. It's the home price roller-coaster. An innovative representation of home prices going back to the 19th century (I suspect some of the older data is estimated) up to 2007.

Again, the representation does little to explain why. But it does give a sense of the price of housing over the period. It does not explain how significantly housing has changed over the period (indoor plumbing, central heating/air, size, etc.). And those are significant factors in the price. But it's engaging.

Please share other resources. I don't expect this is a big topic as many of you prepare for the upcoming AP exams. But it might offer a direction for post-exam exploration or a recurring theme for next year.

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