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Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective

The central role of the housing market in the recent recession raised a series of questions about similar episodes throughout economic history. Were the underlying causes of housing and mortgage crises the same in earlier episodes? Has the onset and spread of crises changed over time? How have previous policy interventions either damaged or improved long-run market performance and stability?

This volume begins to answer these questions, providing a much-needed context for understanding recent events by examining how historical housing and mortgage markets worked—and how they sometimes failed. Renowned economic historians Eugene N. White, Kenneth Snowden, and Price Fishback survey the foundational research on housing crises, comparing that of the 1930s to that of the early 2000s in order to authoritatively identify what contributed to each crisis. Later chapters explore notable historical experiences with mortgage securitization and the role that federal policy played in the surge in home ownership between 1940 and 1960. By providing a broad historical overview of housing and mortgage markets, the volume offers valuable new insights to inform future policy debates.

496 pages | 65 line drawings, 50 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--History, Economics--Money and Banking


“There is much to be learned here. Even readers who are experts in some areas covered by this volume will find their horizons expanded by the studies’ collective range and depth.”

“It is always interesting, and sometimes useful, to compare our current situation with that of the past. . . . Together, the papers [in Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective] persuasively indicate major lines of historical similarity and difference. Focused on the earlier crisis, they are now an indispensable starting point for understanding that time.”

Housing Studies

“Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective is a must read. The book assembles a collection of recent works from leading scholars on the historical development of housing and mortgage markets. Together, the articles shed rich, new insights.”

Journal of Economic History

Table of Contents

Kenneth Snowden, Eugene N. White, and Price Fishback
1. A Historiography of Early NBER Housing and Mortgage Research
Kenneth Snowden
I. Housing and the Interwar Business Cycles
2. The Interwar Housing Cycle in the Light of 2001?2012: A Comparative HistoricalPerspective
Alexander J. Field
3. Consumption and Investment Booms in the 1920s and Their Collapse in 1930
Steven Gjerstad and Vernon L. Smith
4. Lessons from the Great American Real Estate Boom and Bust of the 1920s
Eugene N. White
II. A Closer Look at the Interwar Housing Crisis
5. The 1920s American Real Estate Boom and the Downturn of the Great Depression: Evidence from City Cross-Sections
Michael Brocker and Christopher Hanes
6. New Multicity Estimates of the Changes in Home Values, 1920?1940
Price Fishback and Trevor Kollmann
7. The Prolonged Resolution of Troubled Real Estate Lenders during the 1930s
Jonathan D. Rose
III. Securitization in Earlier Times
8. Dutch Securities for American Land Speculation in the Late Eighteenth Century
Rik Frehen, William N. Goetzmann, and K. Geert Rouwenhorst
9. Lending to Lemons: Landschaft Credit in Eighteenth-Century Prussia
Kirsten Wandschneider
IV. Postwar Housing Policies
10. The Twentieth-Century Increase in US Home Ownership: Facts and Hypotheses
Daniel K. Fetter
11. Did Housing Policies Cause the Postwar Boom in Home Ownership?
Matthew Chambers, Carlos Garriga, and Don E. Schlagenhauf
Author Index
Subject Index

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