Debate Continued: Supply vs Demand

Jim Russell is again taking to the pulpit to dissent from the popular view that supply problems are causing housing affordability crises in cities like New York and San Francisco.

1 minute read

August 14, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Russell has written two recent articles that examine the question of whether the rents are "too damn high" due to limited supply or strong demand. 

The first article parlays a Tennessee Williams quote, "America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland," into a dissenting take on recent claims made by Ed Glaeser that historical trends of highly regulated cities have made high real estate prices a sign of limited supply. Here's what Russell says about that: "Glaeser is wrong. Sure, constraints on housing supply push up rents and home values. But the dominant story for the market in global cities such as San Francisco and New York is the quality of demand. Choke the unique demand and the drag on supply ceases to matter."

The second article states that "Supply only matters where demand is strong." Another strong statement that will surely surprise ardent supporters of development: "The squawking about greater density and housing supply allows more white people to follow other white people into the city, thereby exacerbating racial segregation. YIMBYism comes across as a sinister form of urban colonization. Build us housing where we want to live."

While the debate persists, so do the effects of the much-discussed issues: expensive parts of the country are deeply embedding in structures of inequality, and sprawl continues, unabashed by the recent recession.

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