Thursday, May 26, 2005

Too Much GDP Spent on Housing

The percentage of GDP being allocated to housing is extremely high. The USA needs a higher percentage of GDP devoted to investment in tradable commodities (biotech, technology, entertainment (Hollywood) etc.). [ To be fair a very small portion of residential investment is tradable (such as houses being bought or rented to tourists)]

Residential investment has become a black hole, absorbing a staggering 5.8% of gross domestic product. That's the highest level since the late 1940s and early '50s, when an entire generation of returning soldiers was setting up families and expanding into newly built suburbs. This time, Americans are building second homes and enlarging current ones at a record pace.

By comparison, the tech boom of the '90s was at worst a baby bubble. Starting in 1991, business investment in information technology and communications gear began a steady climb, going from 3.1% to a peak of 4.8% in 2000 before collapsing.

Without much fanfare, residential construction basically followed the same path in the 1990s. Starting at 3.4% of GDP in 1991, it rose to 4.6% in 2000. But rather than turn down, as tech did, spending on housing just kept climbing, fueled by low interest rates. Measured by the increase in its share of GDP, the housing boom so far is about 40% larger than the tech boom. ......

Yet even if there are temporary disruptions, the end of the housing boom may be good news for the overall economy. The U.S. doesn't need to drive growth with ornate new homes and elaborate kitchens with expensive marble counters. Instead, a shift away from housing could free up hundreds of billions of dollars for other, more productive investments. (Business Week, Michael Mandel May 26, 2005)

However, these 'temporary disruptions' will most likely cause the economy to slide into a recession. However, in the long run the sooner we follow a more prodcutive economic path the better. The GDP alloted to housing needs to be reduced.


  1. Hello, thanks for another great blog! I would say I am a bubblehead from the north of Boston area. Those GDP numbers are just staggering to say the least. Keep up the posts and thanks again.

  2. I am a bubblehead from SF Bay Area. The number shows how "productive" we really are. This must end so that the real economy can come back.

  3. Thanks for coming to the blog. Your intelligent postings ceertainly contibute much to this blog.