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:
- After three decades of holding steady, the percentage of U.S. households owning their own home grew from 1994 to 2005.
- 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.