Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Exponential Trend Failure of the Day: The White Picket Fence Dream

The following chart shows private housing building permits for 1-unit structures per capita.

Bad weather last year?

Source Data:
St. Louis Fed: Custom Chart


Troy said...

not so bad looking at the age 25-54 demo and with more history

Troy said...

wait that's wrong.

it's really 'orrible since that's number of people per start, putting us right at the worst of the Greenspan Fed attack on the economy in Raygun's first term.

Troy said...

interest rate added (red, right axis) for clarity

Stagflationary Mark said...



Your chart is upside down. It looks very bad if you correct that.

You caught it just in time. Congrats!

Stagflationary Mark said...


The 25-54 demo will also be buying existing homes.

I point out that my 90 year old sold her house recently. She didn't upgrade. That was the last house she'll ever own.

It more than likely went to someone in the 25-54 age bracket.

Maybe there are plenty of homes out there already and that we really don't need to be building all that many more for the foreseeable future.

Just a thought.

fudge_hend said...

From these graphs it looks like the number of people per start is roughly equal to the expected lifespan of single family construction prior to 2005. A typical single family home can be expected to last 100 years give or take.

Therefore we can assume that around 2005 construction quality doubled so houses now can be expected to last 200 years as opposed to 100 years. Magically it also improved on all existing houses as well.

So what gives first. People make existing houses last longer and/or live in run down houses. People double up in houses. Or housing starts catch back up. I guess a little of each.

Rob Dawg said...

That's one heck of a long spell of bad weather.

Stagflationary Mark said...


For what it is worth, my 1990 is on its second roof. Most of its double-pane windows are failing (condensation betwwen the pains, broken opening mechanisms). I'm in need of a new natural gas furnace. The carpets are original (and show it). Multiple built-in stovetop burners have failed. The built-in oven is at the end of its lifespan. I really should replace my garage doors (as some of my neighbors have). The septic tank pump failed. The list goes on.

I budget for 1% of my house pretty much vanishing each year. If I was a person who required luxury, it would definitely be closer to 2%. And if I left it completely unattended, it wouldn't take all that many years before only the land had value.

They say our homes are our castles. That said, it's got no chance of competing with...

"The Lhasa Jokhang – is the world's oldest timber frame building in Tibet?"

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

I know! I seriously sprained my ankle in July (true story).

I was at a rest stop and I slipped off the edge of the sidewalk (true story).

I blame the summer weather for luring me into a false sense of security. It was sunny and warm. I didn't even think to look for ice (true story)!

If I would have looked for the ice, then I probably would not have sprained my ankle (true story).

Of course, there was no ice. It did not stop me from slipping though, lol. Sigh.

My ankle is almost back to normal. That was supposed to be the outdoor hiking summer of my content. Perhaps I'll do better this year.

Still can't believe that all the hiking I've done over the past few years on uneven terrain caused no injuries, but the flat ground at a rest stop made me go to the emergency room and hobble around on crutches for several months. Behold the power of "bad weather" complacency!

Nathan said...


Any thoughts about the recent yield curve flattening? Since we're not allowed to have an inverted curve anymore, one has to wonder what spread is the new harbinger of recessions.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Since we're not allowed to have an inverted curve anymore, one has to wonder what spread is the new harbinger of recessions.

My thoughts exactly!

There are two theories.

1. ZIRP has permanently put a stop to recessions.

2. ZIRP is masking the signals that many expect to see heading into a recession.

I am firmly planted in the #2 camp. The #2 camp might be wrong of course. The #1 camp certainly thinks we're full of @#$%.

We'll see, lol. Sigh.