Great moments in economic research

The Atlanta Fed has just spent God-knows how many man-hours and depreciating dollars to do a study [.pdf] that's reached two stunning conclusions:

  1. After three decades of holding steady, the percentage of U.S. households owning their own home grew from 1994 to 2005.
  2. The increase can be attributed largely to the new kinds of mortgages that require little or no down payment.

OK, my sarcasm might be a bit out of line.  There's a legitimate question about whether the increase might also have to do with the aging of the population; the older people get, the more likely it is they become homeowners.  But the study concluded this factor accounts for less than a third of the increase.

What the study did not address was whether the increase is a good thing, or whether all these new homeowners took a sucker's bet, or the Fed's role in creating this housing bubble whose hideous fallout is only just beginning.  So perhaps my sarcasm isn't misplaced after all.