by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
All debt-fueled speculative bubbles pop, even as cheerleaders claim otherwise.
The expansion of Housing Bubble #2 is clearly visible in these two charts of house valuations, courtesy of the St. Louis Federal Reserve database (FRED). The first is the Case-Shiller Index, which as you recall tracks the price of homes on an “apples to apples” basis, i.e. it tracks price movements for the same house over time.
Note that this is an index chart where the index is set at 100 as of January 2000. It is not a chart of median housing prices.
The second chart is also a housing price index chart courtesy of the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency. (Shoutout to the USFHFA, never came across your work before.)
The red line marks where house prices would be if they had tracked the Consumer Price
Index (CPI), i.e. inflation as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You’ll notice that the last time the Case-Shiller Index touched this baseline was 1998, almost a quarter-century ago. On the FHFA index, it hasn’t touched it since the mid-1970s, 45 years ago.