21
Sep
08

What I Saw At The Great Inflation

I’m on a mailing list for Guided By Voices, a 4-years-defunct band. What keeps it going, I think, are the people who make up the Postal Blowfish community – largely thoughtful, earnest folks.

I’m feeding an off-off-topic discussion (I didn’t start it, honest) about the current financial calamity, and the discussion turned to government-backed and subsidized mortgages;

David;

> But to scuttle the whole system would also keep people from buying houses
> who can repay the loans.  Put the crooks in jail, but leave the
> baby in the bathtub.

Dennis;

Yes, our first house loan was through fannie may. They put us through the credit check wringer and we had to take out mortgage insurance. We paid our way out of that and were able to refinance at a better rate and get the mortgage ins. dropped. These programs can work but people got too greedy and home buyers were fucked in those hot markets like vegas and arizona. A good friend of mine is sitting on a mortgage that is prob twice what the house will auction for in vegas.

My rejoinder;

One thought on this;

My parents, in 1964, purchased a house. A little run-down, not in the best neighborhood, but good enough. They paid $7000 for it. My dad was a pattern maker in a machine shop, my mom was, well, my mom (NOTE: No disrespect was intended to my mom, after raising 5 of us full-time she has gone on to two degrees and two entirely separate careers.)

My uncle financed the purchase, I think for 5 years at 5% simple interest. It was a duplex, and the upstairs rent paid back the mortgage in that time. I remember the day in first grade when my mom said I was getting my own room, after the renters had vacated (it was the same day I came down with the mumps, silver linings and all that.)

Fast forward 35 years to 1999. We have all moved out, except for my brother. My parents have moved, a couple of steps up the nice-neighborhood ladder (the old neighborhood, now home to numerous subsidized renters, has moved a couple steps down), and my brother, an industrial mechanic, buys the house from them at a heavily-discounted $84,000 or so, 12 times what they paid for it. Even with a healthy discount from market (this was before the boom), he had to get an FHA loan to make the deal.

What happened? There is simply no way that house in real terms was worth 12x what it sold for in 1964. The ‘magic’ of inflation, plus demand artificially stimulated by government-backed and / or subsidized mortgages, helped put a very modest home outside of the budget of a working person without help. It benefitted my parents very modestly. For the first time in 30 years, they had a mortgage. Their new crib consumed much more than the cash from the old home.

I’m not saying I have all the answers. But government interference in any market carries costs. Are they too high?

vini

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1 Response to “What I Saw At The Great Inflation”



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