A Tale of Two Markets

Re-examining recent thinking on student debt as major contributor to the lousy housing market.
May 16, 2014, 8am PDT | Michael Newton
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CityLab's Derek Thompson takes to task recent publications claiming the economy is being hindered by student debt, especially in the housing market. Offering a different take on the rising prices and decreasing youth entrance the housing market, Thompson claims the Wall Street Journal and Realtor magazine have got it all wrong.

What is the contention? It's a question of data source, and Thompson reports that the New York Federal Reserve doesn't have the story straight. New research from the Atlanta Fed recently suggest the media are reporting "a Frankenstein-fact, built with two distinct methodologies mashed together... According to the broader survey, there has been no major fall-off in first-time buyers as a share of the market." The culprit behind the distinction? "Corporations are acting like people," speculating with cash up front for houses in metro areas, driving up prices, "...And so what appears to be a paradox with student loans and the housing market isn't a paradox, at all."

The article offers a swath of infographics. The crux of Thompson's piece is a sobering one: "...there are two housing markets in America. It's not one for student debtors and one for non-student-debtors. Rather, it's one market for healthy corporations, who are buying at a historic rate; and one market for families, which is still quite sick..."

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Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in CityLab
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