Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waterlogged

It's odd to be living in a time of not being surprised by this HUD report on two measures of the underwaterness of U.S. homes: a cruder guess of 23%, and (what it suggests is) a more careful guess of 16.40%. It's odd just to feel tired at seeing those awful numbers. And, from a San Francisco perspective, it's just tragic to see such relatively small amounts of home debt having crushing effects on middle-class people. The report says the median home loan in 2009 had risen to $106,917. Hardly nothing, a hundred thousand, but an amount you'd think a well-employed person in the U.S. could pay off over a third to a half of a working career. Except, no. There's this immiseration.

Eh, I'm saying nothing new here.

On the streetcar I've been reading good old Charles Mackay, "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds." In the South Sea Bubble this week. Funny to see, in 1720, the "greater-fool" fallacy among people who disbelieved in a bubble but invested anyway. Funny to wonder what the economic vertigos of 1720 in France and the British Empire did to people's minds in those places, and whether some effect of that experience emerged later in the century in the turns toward democracy.

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