Contributions of Economists to the Housing-Price Bubble
Working Paper Series No. 2011-03 March 2011 After the bursting of the housing-price bubble in 2006 and ensuing financial crisis, there has been much discussion of what economists could have done differently to help avert the crisis and „Great Recession‟ that followed. One dimension of this concerns information supplied by economists to the general public about causes of high appreciation in home prices and their likely future course, as good information could have helped the public hedge their finances against downside risks while bad information may have encouraged them to take on too much risk. This paper analyzes data from 24 California newspapers on assessments and predictions offered by economists as to whether bubbles were forming in the state‟s housing markets. In brief, we find that the California public was fairly decently served by economists offering their views via the media -- although with some significant problems of biased forecasts not made in good faith, and of inattention to concerns about „harm avoidance‟ that ought to apply when economists share their opinions in this way.