AS FALLING house prices and tightening credit squeeze America’s economy, some worry that the country may suffer a decade of stagnation, as Japan did after its bubble burst in the early 1990s. Japan’s property bubble was also fuelled by cheap money and financial liberalisation and—just as in America—most people assumed that property prices could not fall nationally. When they did, borrowers defaulted and banks cut their lending. The result was a decade with average growth of less than 1%.The worst is over in America. ;-)
Most dismiss the idea that America could suffer the same fate as Japan, but some of the differences are overstated. For example, some claim that Japan’s bubble was much bigger than America’s. Yet average house prices nationwide rose by 90% in America between 2000 and 2006, compared with a gain of 51% in Japan between 1985 and early 1991, when Japanese home prices peaked. ... Japanese home prices have since fallen by just over 40%. American prices are already down by 20%, and many economists reckon they could fall by another 10% or more.
What about commercial property? Again, average prices rose by less in Japan (80%) than in America (90%) over those same periods. Thus Japan’s property boom was, if anything, smaller than America’s. Japan also had a stockmarket bubble, which burst a year earlier than that in property. This hurt banks, because they counted part of their equity holdings in other firms as capital. But its impact on households was modest, because only 30% of the population held shares, compared with over half of Americans. ...
John Makin, at the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank, argues that monetary and fiscal relief were necessary but not sufficient to revive Japan’s economy. The missing ingredient was a clean-up of the banking system, on which Japanese firms were more dependent than their American counterparts. ...
One advantage over Japan, says Mr Jerram, is that America is spreading the costs of its housing bust across other countries. ...
By learning from Japan’s mistakes, America can avoid a dismal decade. However ... experience in other countries shows that serious asset-price busts often lead to economic downturns lasting several years. Only a wild optimist would believe that the worst is over in America.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Housing Bubbles: America vs. Japan
The Economist compares Japan's real estate bubble with America's:
Posted by James Tags: Housing