Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Road Not Taken

Click to enlarge.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Source Data:
St. Louis Fed: Custom Chart
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost (1916)


Stagflationary Mark said...

Just to be clear...

The red exponential growth (decay) trend line uses all the data from January of 1959 to May of 2013.

The blue exponential growth trend line uses the data from the low point in January of 1991 to the high point in February of 2005.

Stagflationary Mark said...

I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news. We're back on the long-term trend!

Now, the bad news. We're back on the long-term trend!

mab said...

Are you saying we're not on the "road" to recovery?

You need to spend less time actually analyzing the data and more time watching CNBC!

Stagflationary Mark said...


Are you saying we're not on the "road" to recovery?

We're certainly going somewhere! And if I must say, the view from this handbasket is simply breathtaking!

Mr Slippery said...

You have become a posting machine since the ankle got mangled. I hope the ankle heals quickly, but I'm enjoying the post-a-thon.

The department store sales was a gem. Thanks!

Troy said...


basically new starts per 25 year old

0.7 sounds about right. 0.2, not so much.

I recently read that postwar France as a policy overbuilt their housing stock to make housing affordable.

Here in the US the majority who own terrorize the minority who have to rent. It's really quite something.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Mr Slippery,

I just wish the posting activity of my fingers burned as many calories at the hiking activity of my legs, lol. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...


0.7 sounds about right. 0.2, not so much.

I would argue differently perhaps.

1. Your chart appears to be following a similar exponential decay trend model as mine over the long-term.

2. I think you should factor in the unemployment rate of 20-24 year olds.

3. How about factoring in what escalating student debt compared to the relative usefulness of college degrees (no longer guaranteeing a high paying job) does to the affordability of said housing starts?

4. I realize that 25 year olds might want a brand new home built for them, but there are certainly plenty of existing ones available long-term, especially if long-term job growth is as dead as it appears (since 2000).

5. Starter homes make less sense if housing prices really can't grow much, if any, faster than inflation over the long-term.

6. Starter homes make much less sense if one is pretty much forced to change jobs many times in one's life (unlike the career oriented jobs offered in the past).

For what it is worth, I bought my one and only home in 1997. I was 33. It was not a newly constructed home (7 years old). IAs with most things, I bought with the intent to hold to maturity (my ultimate death).

I was never a believer in starter homes. I wanted the mobility to easily change jobs if I so desired. In hindsight, no complaints!

Just opinions!

Stagflationary Mark said...

I would also add that I shared a home (apartment) with 2 other roommates when I was 23-24. We sure didn't require as many homes per capita.

In this economy, I'd expect more roommates per capita. It's definitely a good way to reduce costs during tough times.

Stagflationary Mark said...

One also wonders how many auto sales could be considered housing starts for 25 year olds.

There was someone about that age living in his car where I once worked. Seriously. It was also in the mid-1990s, well before the economy really started tanking.