Calculated Risk, commenting on Fed Reserve Chair Bernanke giving a “no one could have predicted” the crash, where he said it “was difficult to anticipate…” CR writes,
I disagree that the crisis “was difficult to anticipate”. I think the potential for the housing bust to lead to a financial crisis was fairly obvious (I first mentioned the possibility of a financial crisis as a result of the then coming housing bust in 2005).
Here is this blogger, in August, 2002: Multiplier Effects ,
From what I read, the economy is currently being propped up by what most people seem to agree is a “bubble” in housing prices. So far this housing bubble has allowed consumers to keep spending just enough to keep the economy afloat for now. But if refinancing houses rather than rising incomes is the source of funds to keep up the spending binge, won’t this have a multiplier effect on any downturn? (Economy propped up by housing bubble, spending slows, economy slows, pops the housing price bubble, people stop spending, economy slows more, many lose houses, economic drop accelerates.)
Multiplier effects are worrying me lately. We have had a period where stock prices rather than the underlying strength of the companies became an underpinning of the economy. For example, the pension problem – pension funds invested in stocks, stocks rise, companies don’t have to make contributions, AND their books look better because the pension funds are claimed as assets. As long as the market was going up everyone’s books looked great but now underfunded pension plans will have to drain cash out of companies, lower that previously claimed asset, all lowering earnings, eventually causing the market to go even lower, accelerating any downturn. Same thing with insurance companies – reserves in the stock market, market drops, not enough reserves to cover obligations. As I said, many companies were propped up by their stock prices not their own strength. So when the market drops it multiplies the effect.
Note that I said I was already reading about it. I’m not claiming some kind of credit or anything of the sort, only that there were already enough people worried about that we were heading for a big fall that I was reading about it and looking into it. People were already worried, after the dot-com crash, seeing the Fed pumping up a different bubble.
Then I had many entries in 2003 and on, and it became a regular thing, and generated a lot of traffic because others were worried and reading about it, too. This was because I was reading about it at so many other sites. When I moved to the new web host I set up a Housing Bubble category.