Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bad economic factoid of the week: Vacant housing 

According to Bloomberg, there are more than 18 million vacant units of housing in the United States right now. Paul Kedrosky does a little scary numerology:

According to the latest data, the number of vacant U.S. homes touched 18.7-million in the second quarter. That is a daunting figure, of course, but it is more fun to put it in context. Assuming four people per household, the U.S. currently has enough surplus housing to put the entire population of the U.K., with room left over for Israel.

Of course, we are a huge country and they are not, and the linked article notes that the true vacancy rate (all houses empty and for sale) actually fell in the second quarter to 2.5%, down from 2.9% in the six months ended March 30. The aggregate number also includes vacation homes and such, which are rarely used. That does not necessarily indicate trouble; it could just as easily reflect prosperity.

But, even so, point taken.


By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jul 26, 01:16:00 AM:

Daniel Bruno Sanz would like to share his Huffington Post essay with you;
Please post it on your website and send your link to us for inclusion at DanielBrunoSanz.com
Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/DanielBrunoSanz
Here are the keyords in the essay:
13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 2012 Election, B.E.T., Barack Hussein Obama, Booker T. Washington, Bryant Park, Cipriani's, Colin Powell, Criminal Industrial Complex, Deb Slott, Do The Right Thing, Heidi Klum, Hip-Hop, Mark Penn, Melting Pot, Pink Elephant, Racism, Reconstruction, Robert Johnson, Seal, Segregation, Shelby Steele, Sidney Poiter, Sonia Sotomayor, Spike Lee, Tavis Smiley, Terrence Yang, The Dance Flick, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Virginia Davies, W.E.B. Dubois, Zero Mostel, Politics
Prologue to Obama 2012
We approach the future walking backwards, our gaze forever fixated on the past. Predicting the future is not a passive exercise; we invent it every day with our actions.
I began the sketches for what would ultimately become Obama 2012 in March 2007, a month after Barack Obama declared his candidacy. I had spent much of the previous 18 months living abroad as an entrepreneur and statesman of sorts, and I was slightly out of touch with the pulse of life on the street in the United States. I learnt about Sen. Barack Obama’s Springfield, IL speech formally declaring his candidacy for president of the United States through one of the international cable news channels and thought how great it would be to have a fresh start after years of mediocrity in Washington and a plummeting reputation around the world.
By September, after what seemed like raising a six-month-old child, my sketches had turned into Why the Democrats Will Win in 2008 the Road to an Obama White House. It was my answer to the burning question everyone had back in March: Can he really win? Actually, not everyone thought it was a question. For many people, including Mark Penn, director of the Clinton campaign, the answer was an easy “no way.” This strategic blunder made it that much easier for the Clinton campaign to be defeated. Then there were Black pundits like Shelby Steele, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, who came out with a 2007 book entitled A Bound Man, Why Obama Can't Win.
Being Black did seem to be an automatic disqualification, but then why did someone need to write an entire book arguing what should have been patently obvious? Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell came to my mind and I remembered that he could have run for president in 1992 as a war hero. But Colin Powell was Ronald Reagan’s protégé and got a special pass on the race question. Black conservatives like Justice Thomas, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were careful to disassociate themselves from liberal thinkers and activists like Jesse Jackson, who lost, as expected, the 1984 and 1988 Democratic primaries. Ultimately, Colin Powell, in spite of all his honors, declined to run for president. His wife Alma feared for his safety. Common sense said that a candidate like Obama, for numerous insurmountable reasons, didn't stand a chance of winning the Democratic primary, let alone a general election in which 10% of the electorate is African American and Republicans controlled the White House for 20 of the preceding 28 years. But I decided that Obama's chances merited a closer examination. In it, I would bring to bear my gambling skills.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Sun Jul 26, 02:36:00 AM:

That's pretty cool, actually....

I grew up in a place where about half of the houses are vacation or half-year homes (Methow Valley) so I I gotta agree with the qualifications and all, but that's just *cool* for visualizing how big the US is.  

By Blogger buck smith, at Sun Jul 26, 09:05:00 AM:

true vacancy rate (all houses empty and for sale)

That means all houses empty plus all houses for sale, doesn't it? The other interpretation would exclude houses empty but not for sales and houses occupied and for sale.  

By Blogger Bill C, at Sun Jul 26, 06:53:00 PM:


Banks are sitting on some homes not putting them on the MLS because they don't want to overwhelm the market. I am living next door to one of them. Four houses on my block are empty, three for sale out of a total of 12. Three of the houses, including myself, have been bought since the new year at about 35-40% discounts to what they sold in 2004-2005.

We aren't typical because this is a subdivision built in the exurbs of Il. in 2004 but it does give you an idea of what kind of market is out there. Inventory will fall but it is going to be a few more years. One house across the street is going for 200K, 3500 sq. ft. High taxes and a SSA add significantly to the cost. They account for 42% of the mortgage.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Sun Jul 26, 06:58:00 PM:

Bill C-
SSA? Google fails me, just brings up the social security administration.  

By Blogger Bill C, at Mon Jul 27, 08:49:00 PM:

Special supplemental assessment. Developers use the money to build roads, schools, etc.  

By Anonymous WLindsayWheeler, at Mon Jul 27, 10:41:00 PM:

Well, that vacant housing should be fast shrinking.

In my town here, Battle Creek is planning to demolish 150 homes. More to follow. The city gov. is trying hard to end blight and so as the minorities spread, the whites flee with the money, and the homes----well, they become a nuissance, and the community organizers here organize people to demand their demolishment. The city owns about 2000 vacant lots and will be adding more.

We are doing our part here to help solve vacant housing---demolish them. That will improve numbers!!!!! That's how its done!  

By Anonymous Billy Bob Corncob, at Tue Jul 28, 08:30:00 PM:

I am trying to get permission to send you a copy of Chapter Two of Thomas Schelling's Book, Micromotives and Macrobehavior (which you would enjoy reading, I think - the book that is).

FM Scherer at Harvard recommended it (knows Schelling) and it's pretty good.

He (in passing, as he does everything) covers the subject of how a substantial increase in the rate of addition to the housing stock over a few years will lead to a significant depression in the rate of building thereafter. Among other things.

No surprise. Great factoid for those looking.

How's your home project in P-ton?  

By Blogger Unknown, at Thu Aug 06, 05:36:00 AM:

On the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, essayist Daniel Bruno Sanz has written a unique piece about the nuclear arms race and the Black experience on film:


You may post it on your website and follow us at Twitter.com/DanielBrunoSanz

Here are the Keywords:
5ive, Adolf Hitler, African-American Poetry, Al-Queda, Albert Einstein, Arch Oboler, Carl Sagan, Charles Bronson, Charles Lampkin, Cosmos, Douglass Macarthur, Elizabeth Montgomery, Emperor Hirohito, Enrico Fermi, Fahrenhei 451, Fat Man, Five, Francois Truffaut, Frank Lloyd Wright, Genesis, Gyokuon-Hoso, H.G. Welles, Harry Truman, Hiroshima, James Anderson, James Weldon Johnson, Julius Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, Lavrentii Beria, Leo Szilard, Lord Of The Flies, Los Ultimos Cinco, Manchuria, Manhattan Project, Mao Tse-Tung, Martini Movies, Mokusatsu, Mulholland Highway, Nagasaki, Nietzsche, North Korea, Nuclear Holocaust, On The Beach, Orson Welles, Pearl Harbor, Potsdam Declaration, Reagan, Red Army, Rod Serling, Schopenhauer, Semipalatinsk, Stalin, Stepin Fetchit, Suzuki Kantaro, Taliban, The Day After, The Day The World Ended, Twilight Zone, Uranium Fission, Variety Magazine, Will Smith, Wille Zur Macht, William Golding, William Phipps, Living News  

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